BlueCare personal carer reconnects Roma
Michael Maloney and his Andrea Murray Memorial Award
BlueCare Roma Community Personal Carer Michael Maloney has received the prestigious Andrea Murray Memorial Award for his work in re-instating his local BlueCare respite group. The award celebrates community members who go above and beyond to help others and this year the Maranoa Regional Council honoured Michael and the very special impact he is having on the lives of many of our clients.
“I was first rung by the Council who told me I had been nominated for the award,” Michael said. “They’d asked me to come along but I had already made a commitment to visit a friend’s property to help with mustering, so I asked a family member to go along for me.”
“I didn’t know about the win until he messaged me saying I had actually won the award,” Michael shared. “I was very grateful and humbled to receive it as I think there are a lot of people who deserve to receive it more than me.”
Michael and his wife Robyn found their way into BlueCare after their business, like many others across Australia, suffered through the impacts of COVID and lockdowns.
“My wife and I had a cooking business at the Roma Bowls Club but COVID shut us down,” said Michael. “I’d been thinking about BlueCare as they used to come over once a month and I’d get talking to the team.”
“I told my wife Robyn that I’ve got to be out doing something so I’ll join up with BlueCare as a casual while we kept trucking along,” Michael said.
“After a while, I just jumped ship to go full time and my wife started working at BlueCare too,” said Michael. “So, we shut down the business and gave our full focus to BlueCare.”
Reflecting on his decision to leave their business and join BlueCare, Michael said “it was just doing what I want to do and that is caring for this community, they are a lovely group to work with.”
With the impacts of COVID creating less opportunities to socialise, Michael’s efforts to get the bus on the road and clients back outside enjoying experiences together quickly built momentum.
“Getting the bus up and moving was a big part of it,” said Michael. “We only had a couple of clients at the start, maybe two or three and I’d be encouraging them all to come along for a short drive to see what they think.”
The group grew larger and quickly became something they all looked forward to. Most importantly to Michael though was seeing the sense of community grow stronger and stronger.
“It has grown from there and now they are a connected group who look out for each other,” Michael said. “We have gone out on a couple trips now and they will always enquire if anyone from the group is missing on the bus.”
“They look out for them and it is a very nice thing to see the social side of these trips as they build this tight little community together.”
“Even just driving around can be special,” he said. “We might be making our way to a pub lunch on a day that is too hot to be outside and while driving around Roma they will reminisce on memories and stories from the area, going past homes they used to live in or buildings they used to visit.”
“A great thing about being based in a small country town, is the fact that 90% of the clients know each other and have a lot of memories in the area,” Michael shared. “They are really happy even just driving around as it brings back those special memories for them.”
Equally important to Michael is the need to create not just a community for his clients, but a sense of security too.
“If I see them around town I always go over and see how they are going,” said Michael.
“Checking in gives them that sense of security, and they know that if they are ever in any trouble, to let me know.”
Michael’s philosophy to his care is simple, but so important. “At the end of the day, you treat people the way you would like to be treated and care for them the way you would like to be cared for,” he said.
Reflecting on his life with BlueCare now and the trips he shares with his clients, Michael said “It is very satisfying, it is like having a heap of grandmas and grandpas again!”
“It just feels like a big family, and I love them to bits.”
Michael recently spoke with David Iliffe on ABC Southern QLD Breakfast about his experience working as a BlueCare Personal Carer and you can listen to his story right here.