From labouring to personal carer – and a new lease on life

Posted: 31st Jul

Logan man Peter Puckeridge has gone from driving trucks and labouring to helping people with a disability learn to be more independent – and he couldn’t be happier.

The 51-year-old made the career switch six years ago, after decades of manual labouring and truck driving jobs that wore out his body and left him with chronic joint issues.

Knowing he would not pass a physical at his then job, he resigned.

“I was 45 years of age, and I thought: what now? I went to Cenrelink and said, ‘I’ve got 20 years left, re-train me!’. The only training available at that time was for security work or traffic control, which didn’t appeal.”

A number of people were encouraging Peter to get into community service, thinking his personality and energy would be a good fit.

He started looking into his options, did some voluntary work, and decided to take the plunge. Peter and his wife sold their home to be debt free and to buy him time to re-invent himself, and he paid his way through TAFE to earn a Certificate IV in Community Service.

“I did an elective in disability, involving 100 hours placement at Trinder Park Keystone. On the first day, I rocked up with plenty of nerves, but after five minutes I jumped in feet and all and had a ball.

“I completed the activities and tried to involve everyone. I’m a bit of a clown — I like to make people laugh — and I had a lot of fun.”

Once qualified, Peter worked with a well known service provider in Logan as a disability support worker for four years, ultimately helping transition more than 100 clients across to other organisations in the lead up to the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Today, Peter shares his time between a Beaudesert-based service (as a casual lifestyle assistant support worker), and Hireup, an online service connecting carers to clients as part of their NDIS packages.

Peter primarily provides one-on-one support, helping clients with life skills (like cooking) and getting them out and about to the park, the shops, or a movie.

His clients face a range of challenges, from brain injuries and physical disabilities to autism, and Peter’s focus is always on helping them become more independent.

“There are tough days on the job, but the worst days are always outweighed by the best. If I can help someone reach a small goal — even just making a cup of tea for themselves, or getting out to the shops — it’s incredibly rewarding. And I learn so much too.”

For Peter, the career switch has been life changing.

“I never thought I’d be doing some of the things I’m doing now. I was hoping I’d find a way to earn a crust, and I’ve found a job I love. I was meant for this."

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