A powerhouse fundraiser, advocate, wife and mother of a high-functioning young man with autism, Mary has worked in the disability and aged care sector for over 30 years.

Based in Cairns but with responsibility for the Cairns and Townsville teams, the 54-year-old first came to our attention after becoming a franchise holder in 2017.

“I was looking to provide innovative and responsive services with value for those we support, and as I had worked for a couple of agencies I saw gaps in service provision and value base that did not resonate with me. When researching what I was looking for Just Better Care values and processes called to my thoughts and values as a kindred spirit’s voice does,” she says.

“As a franchisee, I still have thoughts in the middle of the night – what do we do well, what can we do better, what is our point of difference and does all the team resonate with the value base I hold for these amazing people we are blessed to support.”

 Beyond the fold

Since coming into the Just Better Care fold, Mary and her husband Jamie have shown themselves to be big-hearted supporters of numerous charities including Black Dog Rides, Mental Health First Aid, Be Kind Movement (to reduce suicide depression) and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

In addition, the pair work hard to support the broader industry, hosting special Christmas children’s parties in Cairns and Townsville, and partnering with a Christmas hamper company to donate to many Just Better Care customers.

Together Mary and Jamie also run a friendship club that is a highlight of the month for many in the area. Mary says people from any service provider are welcome to attend and meet new friends. Ultimately, she says, the goal is to allow users the opportunity to create long-lasting friendships without needing support staff to enjoy freedoms “that are often taken for granted”.

Mary says it’s vitally important to her to do what she can to ensure all interactions with clients, her employees and the broader industry are positive ones.

“I love the ‘goosebumps’ moments when witnessing the success of the individuals who engage our services to support them to reach their potential. And supporting all the Just Better Care Cairns and Townsville teams to revel in the wins of the person they are supporting and being able to provide the memory-making opportunities for people to achieve their goals, dreams, aspirations and desires.”

The sensory space

To this end, Mary has recently been pouring her energy into a new project, a sensory therapy space for those who need to reset to baseline before or after emotional outbreaks occur.

Officially opened earlier this year, Mary says having a space to be able to regulate and set someone up for re-entering a world that can be harsh for sensory-sensitive persons to manage and regulate their sensory stimulation of factors within everyday life is important.

This is particularly true of loud sounds such as a car backfiring, yelling or a dog barking. Strong perfume and overcrowded spaces can also be challenging for sensory-sensitive persons.

Mary says the sensory room, which features everything from lights and 3D sensory walls filled with ocean animals to aroma sticks and a zero-gravity massage chair, allows those impacted to rebalance their senses based on their individual needs. A staff person who understands their requirements is also present.

But her efforts to provide memory-making activities where clients shine don’t end there.

My space at my pace

Mary is currently working on planting a community garden to go alongside her My Space at My Pace program, where six to eight-week training programs are offered in cooking, transport, healthy options and hygiene. After each tranche, a graduation ceremony and certificate of attendance are held to celebrate attendee growth and participation.

Mary says she loves her work and will continue to provide as many activities as possible to allow those who use the Just Better Care service to live life to the fullest.

 "Disability and aged care services continue to evolve and I am passionate about supporting opportunities for those who need them.”

 NB: The next ball event is being held on 12 August and features a Masquerade theme. While some dresses are available for those requiring assistance, anyone interested in attending is asked to contact Mary and her team for further details.

Do you need disability support for yourself or a loved one? Just Better Care is designed to help people from diverse backgrounds with different lifestyles achieve their goals. Get started by talking to a local team member today.