Life Is Worth Living

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Life is Worth Living has a holistic and passionate approach that focuses on ‘ability’ rather than ‘disability’.  Through this fundamental difference, Heather Thompson has been able to consistently empower her clients by leading the industry towards a mindset of ability support services.

“I have learnt the value of freedom, which motivates me to help others discover theirs.”

Life Is Worth Living (LIWL) is known in the community to become a rich part of people’s lives, this includes her own.  The positive and motivating mindset of the team, filters through and makes the company what is it today.  The impact is resoundingly described as “support that continues on”, which Heather states she is grateful to be part of.  Life Is Worth Living’s mission is to provide a high-quality, personalised service that is tailored to support individual needs both at home and in the community.  The program hub in Newtown is affectionately referred to as ‘The Nest’ and is home to those who engage Heather and her team for exceptional respite services.

Tell us the story – your story, of how you came to be working in the disability support space and offering your services to clients?

A significant life change at 45 inspired me to finally follow my love of helping others and with this fresh start; I began working in the community as a support worker.

It was here that I realised there were significant gaps in services provision and for support workers themselves.  Fulfillment, for me, comes from supporting others to fully express themselves, achieve their personal goals and those from NDIS Plans.

Geared with hands-on experience in the field; my approach as a business owner draws on this knowledge of the industry and is enhanced by my Bachelor of Applied Science and Post Graduate Certificate in Aging and Recreation.

I saw hope in the future and possibility through change, which led to Life Is Worth Living’s ongoing success.  The concerning number of media stories on poor entities in the disability sector breaks my heart.  Welcoming participants into our service where they experience such a high standard of care is what makes me grateful to wake up each day and do what I do.

Advocacy for freedoms and entitlements is an important part of our approach.

What was your “lightbulb moment?” The moment you realised that Life Is Worth Living would be your footprint on the world?

The footprints left in our community are twofold.  I want to create a legacy that can make changes forever for those working in the field, as well as those living with a disability.

With over ten years in the industry and five years as a company owner, it hasn’t been just one lightbulb moment, but many that continue to illuminate my path each day.  As the team celebrates the successes of those we support, our unique journey is filled with success stories that we build and grow from.  Life Is Worth Living is its own community.  It provides a safe and nurturing environment for staff to be their best and in turn, benefits those they support.

With high staff retention, we have been able to build long-lasting client relationships through continuity of care.  This is sadly becoming a rare thing in many businesses.  We want to set a benchmark in providing a reliable, consistent, and quality service.  Unpredictable funding and changing needs lead to most employment being casual based with short shifts meaning high staff turnover is a huge barrier faced by service users.  We address this by offering regular hours and a consistent roster schedule where possible as this also ensures the most comprehensive progression of client development.

Everybody has something they love; what do you love about your ‘job’?

Quite simply, I love helping.  I’m driven by encouraging others and by believing in the true potential of people seeing them realise new possibilities.  To be part of that growth is a gift.

What do you find is the main reason that keeps you getting up every morning, heading out the door, and off to work?

Every day brings so much fulfilment, the small glint in the eye of someone who successfully cracked an egg into a bowl as they make a recipe at The Nest kitchen, or, learning to cook that egg in a frying pan on a respite stay.  A couple weeks later the mother of this respite participant reached out to tell me she received cooked eggs at home for breakfast one morning following the stay.  Without our service, this wouldn’t have been a possibility.

Another respite client came into our care about a year ago and has since really found her voice.  From being challenged with just a simple hello to now standing before three staff members sharing an experience where going somewhere new; they found a starfish and other delights of the day.  Sharing the story with the newfound confidence and animation you could swear she was a different child to just a year earlier.  To witness first-hand a person who has flourished in the Life Is Worth Living community brings me such joy, especially knowing that these major communication shifts will continue with them now through life.

Tell us your secret… What are some of the little joys that you bring to your clients who have entrusted you to help them live easier and better lives?

Our signature system is unique in comparison to other support services and our proven success comes from replicating these steps across the board.

We celebrate each individual for who they are by tapping into their special interests.  We support clients to manifest their own joy by being empowered with the newfound ability to do things with the skills we equip them with.

If we were to spend a day in your shoes – what would that look like?

I start my day with a mindset of gratitude and exercise; either a swim or walking our Nest support dog ‘Sir Franklin’ around the local sanctuary.  I prepare for a day in the office alongside my office manager who helps me stay on track – I can’t even begin to convey how much I appreciate her.  Staff and clients come and go from The Nest and I look forward to opportunities in the day where I can catch up with staff and clients and hear all about their successes and achievements.  Where possible, I do love to get out with clients and put a pause on administration duties as this is what keeps me motivated.

We manage up to 200 hours a week of regular shorter shifts which bring much variability based on individual support needs.  Apart from maintaining the varying logistics, we try to ensure a level of stability for our staff by scheduling ongoing rosters so they can prioritise their commitments with their Life Is Worth Living clients and maintain our consistent and reliable service.  In addition to this, we also regularly have respite booked out at The Nest which is the direction we find is becoming increasingly in demand.

What do you consider a good day at work for you?

Hearing the stories from our team members and our clients – celebrating the little successes (that are really not so small) alongside is a true testament to what I set out to do here.  To reach a point where clients grow so much personally that they no longer require our services speaks to the proven success of a client-centric approach.

Tell us about what you do and what sets you apart from the other businesses that offer disability support?

  1. Relationship – The key ingredient is the right environment for both the support worker and client where there is a connection to the broader Life Is Worth Living Community Hub. Without the foundation of a relationship, learning doesn’t happen.  A big part of the system that works for us starts with connecting the right individuals.  We place high importance on matching the person’s needs to our team members and personalised style of service.
  2. Trust – When interviewing one of my staff, I asked them about what motivated them.  They told me to never underestimate the value of having someone you trust by your side, in particular when going through some of the low points life presents all of us.  They wanted to be that person to those they supported.  This ties into the sense of belonging we wanted to offer to those who became part of the Life Is Worth Living community.
  3. Goal & Skill Development – We take joy in nurturing our clients and I apply my background in human development and passion in the field of recreation to the framework of our support shifts.  Staff are trained to seek out the things the person they support enjoys the most where they can freely develop skills which we then transfer into other areas of their life, further building on their achievements.  This is the core of what we do in all of our support services.  Those we support feel valued and connected to the beautiful community we live in.

With our collective experience combined, we help people by shortcutting two results, in particular with our Respite Services.  One success story was helping a participant leave home for the first time, supporting them develop self-confidence to the level where they can now self-advocate and find a job where they feel that they can contribute and have a broader social network.  Recently, they took on the initiative of organising a new street sign so people can find our business which was an incredible capacity building activity!

All sessions are well documented so that information can be shared between relevant team members and the broader Care team when needed.  Enhancing connection helps close the communication loop and enables us to really track client progress.  Connecting people with relevant information helps us work collaboratively with family and care teams improving results.

Every business needs an adviser… who do you turn to for help at Canny Group and with so many accountants Geelong has an offer, why Canny Group?

When I need business advice, I book a meeting with Canny Group’s Accounting Manager, Jamie.

She has an effective way of sharing information to educate me as well as lots of experience from her work with other businesses over the years.  She has helped me understand the workings of my business in a practical way.  In a recent business development meeting, Jamie and her team helped build structure and strategies with our team at Life Is Worth Living as well as developed structure and strategies for the future.

We have had other accountants and bookkeepers in Geelong but found huge gaps in their level of understanding of NDIS and service provision in this section, which ended up being a costly mistake.  We made the transition over to Canny Group because of our positive experiences with their NDIS Plan Management team and sought out a provider who was familiar with the NDIS.  If I have questions, I want to be able to a source that I know and trust and will respond in a timely manner.

What kind of support have you received from Canny Group since joining forces with them as your accountant?

I see Canny Group as thought leaders in the complex area of NDIS Plan Management and I select them as my go-to if I have any questions about best practice methods in my business.

The field of NDIS Plan Management can be inconsistent between service providers.  They ensure their current knowledge is up to date and advise us when there are relevant changes to our business.  We can operate with the assurance and peace of mind that our tax system is compliant and accurate.  I know and trust their expertise and decided to transfer all my business and financial services to one place.

We have direct contact with their experienced bookkeeper who supports us with our Xero software and pay systems, BAS statements all with very responsive communication strategies that I have really appreciated.  I’m old school and like to call a business and speak with a friendly receptionist who treats me as a valued customer.

Since coming on board, I have had regular meetings with my accountant and a productive business planning session towards the end of last year.  They have a proactive culture where they encourage me to be more involved and engaged in forward planning rather than my previous experience of doing things post-financial year in a more reactive way.  We developed short-term and long-term goals, developing strategies to ensure business sustainability.

Looking into your Life Is Worth Living crystal ball… What do you see the future looking like for you and your business?

I would like to take what we have been doing to the next level in 2024.

After five years of developing the Life Is Worth Living business, we have plans to increase the utilisation of The Nest to meet increasing demand.  Through offering more respite services and specialised individual support, we will be able to impact even more lives in a big way.

How do we get in contact with you to have a chat about your services?

Easy! Just give me a call or send an email.  We like to start the referral process with a brief phone call to ensure we are the best match before initiating our onboarding process and facilitating a Meet & Greet.

Phone: Office: 0459 791 717 / 0419 442 050


Pictured, Heather Thompson with a big smile on her face with her hands up in the air. Wearing a white shirt and beautiful silver jewelry, her long dark hair comes over the front of her white shirt. In the background are bright coloured stairs in purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red.

Heather Thompson is the mind behind Life Is Worth Living

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