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There are jobs that are absolutely not for everyone. It takes a big heart to support people with disabilities, working with them to identify and maximise their opportunities.

Pinnacle House Assistant Manager, Sheryl Waterhouse, said everyone who works there has their hearts in the right place.

Nelson-based Pinnacle House Charitable Trust provides day service within the Nelson area to individuals with very high needs and profound intellectual disabilities, who have left school and for whom regular employment is not an option. They offer programmes and activities to support individual participant’s abilities and work to remove barriers that otherwise prevent fuller community participation.

“They have to love them and always look out for their best interests. This is not a job where you just walk in the door and do the job. You have to walk in the door, love these people and give them your very best,” says Sheryl.

Sheryl says that one of the ways that Pinnacle House ensure that staff are able to give their very best is through supporting them with on-the-job training to achieve nationally recognised qualifications, through industry training organisation, Careerforce.

“We’re always encouraging our staff to train to achieve nationally recognised qualifications, and offer many different areas of training to them.”

Pinnacle House had a ceremony to recognise the achievements of two of their amazing staff…

Nigel Milson is one of these support workers who recently achieved a qualification, the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing, Level 2. He left his IT job years ago to go into the business of caring for people. He initially worked in a rest home, but has now joined his wife and sister working at Pinnacle House.

“I think my nature is that of caring, so the support worker role fitswho I am quite well, and supporting the day programme fits well with having a family,” shares Nigel. Nigel and his wife are foster parents to an eleven-year-old girl.

He is rightfully pleased with having achieving the qualification, and feels he has learnt a lot. He found a deeper understanding of Pinnacle House policies and procedures, and also learned new techniques to help manage challenging behaviours.

Debbie Jimmink worked through the same training and qualification as Nigel. A valued volunteer to begin with, Debbie is now ‘an absolute asset’ to Pinnacle House, according to Waterhouse.

Debbie loves her role, “What is my most fun time coming here? Probably seeing the kids and seeing what they’ve learnt and the changes they go through.” For her, the biggest takeaway out of the training is the improved support she can now provide.

The management at Pinnacle House sets high standards for their staff. Training is core to this, and they don’t let them flounder though.

Waterhouse says, “We’re being paid with public money, and we need to do the job 100%. If staff need support in a particular area, we make sure that they get that support to fill the gaps, and workplace training works because it caters specifically to what they’re doing here.”

She admits that they are still evolving and learning. “We don’t have it quite right yet all the time, and we’ll always keep trying to make sure that we improve our support.”

That thinking just reinforces the kind of people working here – working with their hearts.