Matty Fox has Down syndrome and works as a cleaner and sandwich maker. He’s married and has always wanted to be part of the community, just like everyone else.
Matty was so happy to be offered the opportunity to start work. At his orientation he was crying. When Bron asked him why, he said, “I’m so happy I have a job and I’ve got a uniform”.
He takes his job seriously and has a professional attitude. He’s always ready for his support workers to pick him up. He loves the attention at work and looks forward to making the customers smile.
It didn’t take Matty long to get into the swing of things. By his second day he was doing his job well and able to ask for what he needed in a professional way – for example not talking when he’s working. He’s even moved into the café to help make the sandwiches. In no time, Matty had this job in the bag.
Matty met Chris and Rick – the restaurant manager and operations manager – on his first day. They welcomed him warmly and offered plenty of support. His colleagues were open and keen to help out where they could too.
Bron went along to Matty’s first day to let the McDonald’s team know we’re there to help teach the staff how to interact and understand Matty’s way of working. For example, when he walks around looking confused, he’s usually forgotten what he needs to do. With a gentle reminder, he’ll collect himself and get back on track.
His recruitment partner, Bron, has helped him develop his fine motor skills and memory so he can remember the jobs he needs to do and the order he does them in. She’s also stepped in to support Matty for full work shifts when his support worker hasn’t been able to make it.
Matty’ definitely become more independent and feels part of the community. He considers his top three achievements to be:
- finding a real job that isn’t in an exclusively disability-friendly environment
- earning independently to support his family
- staying in a job for almost 6 months, loving it and making long-term friends.
Angus Meredith has an intellectual disability and autism. He works in the kitchen frying food.
He’s a happy and outgoing person with some quirkiness that you have to love. He’s also caring, passionate about what he does, tries hard and listens as best he can. He’s good at asking questions, watching and learning.
For many employment services providers, Angus would be a customer unsuited to a ‘normal’ job due to his level of intellectual disability. But we always see someone’s potential and focus on their abilities and potential rather than on perceptions of what they can or can’t do.
Angus has a great attitude and really wanted to meet people, make friends and be part of a team. We spoke with his mother, and advocate, which helped us understand what he needed at work – a structured environment with support from his team and hands-on repetitive tasks. McDonald’s was the perfect fit.
We worked alongside Angus’ employer to enable another crew member with similar barriers to teach him the role. This made the process much easier, alongside the welcoming and open attitude of the team.
We were also able to support Angus on-site by observing and directing him on how to understand job expectations and fulfil them. We also worked with his colleagues on how they could help.
Angus can now multi skill and work with minimal prompts. He’s learnt how to use the fry station quickly and started to teach others within just three months of being in the role.
We visited McDonald’s often to support both Angus and the team. This helped the team understand what Angus wanted to achieve and what he needed to stay in his role.
Angus considers his top three achievements to be:
- more confidence in himself and the ability to teach others
- new friendships
- being accepted in a normal work environment and having a great team to back him up.
Deslee Andrews has an intellectual disability and high anxiety. She also has a great personality. She works in customer service and has already made it to the drive through window which she loves.
After only a few weeks she’s got the confidence to handle customer service in rush hour!
Deslee wanted to develop skills, become independent and connect with her community. She really missed her Philippino background where family help each other.
We helped her find a job that paid the award wage she deserved, alongside support and structure to grow her confidence and community connections.
She’s had a few bumps with anxiety attacks and challenges that seemed insurmountable but her recruitment partner, Bron, has helped her work through these. They’ve sat down face-to-face and broken them down into manageable chunks. She’s also coached her through her anxiety in communicating with her employer and handling money and rush hour. She considers her top three achievements to be:
- finding a real paid job
- being part of the community and making friends
- minimising her anxiety and taking control of her actions at work.
We’ve worked closely with management and staff to help Deslee manage her anxiety and build skills. We educated the team on what she needs from her work environment to get results and be around her colleagues.
Maverick Laskowski has a cheeky smile and is a great listener. He also has autism and a history of meltdowns. He’s now working as a back-end cook, close to full-time hours.
Maverick’s recruitment partner, Bron, goes to the restaurant regularly to check in with both him and his team. She helps direct and advise them on how to bring out the best in their new recruit.
Maverick has settled in quickly and has been happy to go to work. He’s loving the structured environment and support he’s getting in the job. He’s able to keep up with the pace and processes needed to meet the demand during busy times.
He’s even asked about management upskilling. We’ve worked with both Maverick and his manager to help them build his responsibility and reliability so he can move into a more senior role.
Maverick considers his top three achievements to be:
- finding a stable job
- working in a great team environment
- learning to be reliable on his own.
If a potential employee cares about their work and has something to bring to the business, Chris from McDonald’s Rockhampton will hire them. The restaurant has a diverse team with over 120 people of all ages and walks of life on its roster.
“We’ve supported these employees as we would anyone else,” says manager Chris Moore, “as a human being who has individual needs. If they’ve been anxious or unsettled, we’ve asked why. We’ve encouraged them to speak up about what they need from the job and areas of the restaurant they’d like to work in. We’ve encouraged honesty, independent thinking and teamwork.”
Employee orientations are closely followed by the first shift. This means new starters can apply their knowledge build their confidence early on. Those that are keen to learn are given plenty of opportunities to grow their skills and help out in different areas of the restaurant too.
Chris says, “My message to other employers would be to recruit on an individual’s ability and dedication to the role. If they genuinely want to work and have good references, then the skills and experience can come later. I sincerely hope these individuals stay with us a long time.”
If you need support finding the right job and are living with a mental health condition, illness, injury or disability, give us a call on 1800 226 228 or register online.