In Conversation with Day Activity Centre Training Officer – Neilson Millares

A dance enthusiast outside of work, Neilson can sometimes be seen busting those moves with our DAC clients as part of their music and movement activity. Read on to find [...]

A dance enthusiast outside of work, Neilson Millares can sometimes be seen busting those moves with our Day Activity Centre (DAC) clients as part of their music and movement activity. Planning such fun yet meaningful activities to engage the clients is part of Neilson’s role as a training officer. 

Neilson working with a client on a diamond artwork

32-year-old Neilson works with young adults who have autism.  

“I see my role as that of a facilitator. A key aspect of our job is to engage clients with different learning and sensory needs through activities to enhance their daily living skills,” said Neilson. 

The activities like craftwork, music and movement may seem straightforward. But keeping clients interested and focused can sometimes be an uphill task.  

Knowing which strategies to use to guide the clients often requires training officers to have a good understanding of the behaviours of each client. And that means being able to build a good rapport with the clients is imperative.

Neilson preparing a client for an outdoor activity

“As our clients are mostly young adults, we also work closely with their caregivers to enhance our clients’ overall learning too,” said Neilson.

Though coming up with interesting activities for the clients are part of the job scope, the work of a training officer is not all about fun and play. Working with clients with special needs require patience and understanding, especially when clients are having a “bad day”.

“To me, being non-judgemental is one of the key traits of a good training officer. We also have to learn not to take it personally when clients [act out] when they are facing difficulties,” shared Neilson.

Challenges aside, it is often the clients’ gestures in expressing their affection that drives Neilson to work harder each day. His dedication and professionalism are evident to many, which won him the SPD Service Excellence Award earlier this year.

Neilson holding the Service Excellence Award certificate and trophy

From starting out his career as a healthcare attendant at a nursing home, to his current role at SPD, being able to make a difference in his clients’ lives is Neilson’s greatest motivation.

“I’ve been in the social service sector for about nine years, but I have never felt the need to leave. I am, however, motivated to continue learning and growing so that I can better help my clients.”