Q&A with Ruth Lopez Gonzales, Director of Accessible Care & Lifestyle Services (ACALS)

With more than two decades of experience in the community services industry, Sydney Disability Connection Expo 2022 Gold Sponsors Accessible Care & Lifestyle Services (ACALS) director Ruth Lopez Gonzales leads a first class and diverse team committed to providing the best support available for everyone in need of services and support.

Ruth tells us she started ACALS to address the gaps she said she encountered in her journey as a community worker for a holistic, multicultural and prompt service and has some amazing insights into the disability and care industries.

We asked her to share some of those insights, and tell us a little more about herself.

1. Tell us a little of the history, mission and vision of Accessible Care & Lifestyle Services (ACALS). Who are the people behind the name and how it has grown over the years?

Accessible Care was founded by me, director Ruth Lopez, due to identified gaps found in the aged care sector. It started as an organisation looking to provide staffing solutions for case managers, service advisers and aged care providers in need of a one stop service that will carry on the responsibility of providing all needed services to people in the community.

I have always been passionate about service improvement and have always been driven to create a community where resources are readily available for those in need.

ACALS is now a vibrant, innovative, and strong multicultural organisation that provides quality care to people in the community, presenting them with options in aged and disability care that doesn’t take away the precious freedom of independence and choice.

Our mission is to assist those in need, embracing diversity, uplifting, empowering, and informing people, respecting, and valuing individuality. We are NDIS registered since 2017 and continue working with participants and have now extended our services nationally, with the same model of personalised and tailored services for each individual.

2. What services do you offer and where are you located? What’s your organisation’s strengths? 

We offer all core services for participants of the NDIS, have amazing innovative capacity building programs delivered at our Minto Centre as well as support coordination and Supported Independent Living and independent living options services.

We have a team of over 100 staff members which include support workers, allied health services including physiotherapists, exercise therapists, counsellors, amongst others. We also have an awesome team of handymen and builders as well as gardeners and landscapers, who can provide all home and yard maintenance services. Our head office is located in Campbelltown Park Central, however, we offer services in all areas of New South Wales, with our stronger client base being southwestern Sydney and the northern areas of NSW.

3. What is your background in the disability sector? In 100 words or so, tell us a little about yourself. And, why was becoming a Gold Sponsor at the Sydney Disability Connection Expo 2022 important to you? 

I have over 20 years’ experience in the community service environment, starting work as a community support worker, then training and completing studies in case management and community services as well as business management, always keeping in mind the goal of creating a service that excels in the provision of services without losing the human touch.

It has been a challenging and ever learning process that continues to be rewarding in all aspects, due to the satisfaction one gets seeing that the strategies being put in place are working for both workers as well as participants and clients, making a difference in people’s lives has made a huge impact in my life as well.

I am fulfilled and cannot wait to see what other innovative ways of service provision we come up with as a team for the good of all.

Becoming a Gold Sponsor at the Sydney Disability Connection Expo 2022 was important to us because we can see how this expo is a great resource for the community, to become connected, educated, and integrated.

As a service provider, we can see the need from participants to understand the different options they have and to see the number of ways and opportunities they can take advantage of by attending the expo.

4. Where do you see your business in the industry in, say, five years from now?

In five years we will continue to be leaders of excellence, having great impact in the community on a national level, and reaching those who not only are current participants and have now set services, but also looking and supporting those who might have fallen behind and need support accessing either funding and or services.

5. If you could wave a magic wand, what changes would you like to see within the sector, moving forward?

Every single person receiving services and supports that are tailored for their individual needs, services that provide innovative ways to allow the individuals to become independent and supports that empower them to use the abilities they have to continue to progress in life with the appropriate tools to lead a life they choose to have

6. Do you find support staff difficult to source? Could more be done to recruit or perhaps better train new support workers in the industry? Share your thoughts and experience on the subject with us. 

It has been very difficult to recruit the right people for the roles, especially the role of support workers, a lot had to do with the Covid-19 crisis as well as restrictions and vaccination. It has been, in our experience, hard to find staff who were or are fully immunised against the Covid-19 virus.

Wow. Such experience and passion. Thanks for sharing your story with us Ruth, and also for stepping up as a Gold Sponsor for Sydney.

Ruth is also one of our valuable judges at this year’s National Disability Leadership Organisaton’s Disability Staff Recognition Awards.

To find out more about ACALS, look for them at site #159 at the Sydney Disability Connection Expo 2022, or visit their website https://www.acals.com.au for more information on their services.

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