One stop shop for disabled

By Joseph Aldridge

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The in-house training arm of a Tauranga disability support service is being launched as a stand-alone company today - creating a one-stop shop for the local disability sector.

SwitchedOn has been operating as the training and assessment arm within SILC since 2005 but is being commissioned by the SILC Charitable Trust to operate independently so a wider group of individuals and organisations can access its services.

SwitchedOn general manager Richard Coad said his company would provide training programmes for those working with people with intellectual or physical disabilities.

The new company would provide a one-stop shop not previously available in the Tauranga area and would offer training programmes in specialty areas such as epilepsy, dementia, medication, specialised equipment, lifting/transferring and infection control.

Small-to-medium organisations in the Tauranga disability sector would be likely to access the training but it would also be open to family and carers of people who have had a life-changing accident or illness.

Mr Coad estimated there were about 40 to 50 small-to-medium disability sector organisations in Tauranga which could possibly access SwitchedOn's services, not to mention hundreds of people learning to live with a disability. The new company was being launched with the intention of returning a profit to the trust, but was not looking to compete directly with other service providers, Mr Coad said.

"When you sit down and talk to people there's normally plenty of overlap where we can work together rather than against each other so we're really keen to do that.

"Collaboration is the word among disability organisations these days and SILC has had some really good results with the training team and I guess it's time to take the knowledge we've gained from within SILC and take it out to the public."

Deb White, of workplace training organisation Careerforce, said the establishment of SwitchedOn as a separate entity was a positive move for the Tauranga disability sector.

Careerforce had worked with SILC since 2009 to create NZQA-accredited qualifications for the organisation's staff.

"It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work alongside SILC and witness the growth of their training infrastructure," she said.

"They provide a wonderful supportive learning environment with a team of trainers and assessors that encourage staff to feel more confident."

This had helped with staff retention and, by having a qualified workforce, it helped to mitigate the risk to all parties involved, she said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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