Realising unique dreams

FITTING IN: Coping with change was a big challenge for Jamie initially, but in the shared home environment he has learned to accommodate change better.
FITTING IN: Coping with change was a big challenge for Jamie initially, but in the shared home environment he has learned to accommodate change better.

Everyone has their own unique dreams and goals they want to pursue in life - it's a driving force behind Challenge do what they do.

Challenge Community Services are committed to providing people with disability with a growing range of support services to help them reach those goals.

Their trained staff are available to support house members with personal care, meal preparation, household tasks, shopping, attending medical appointments, recreational activities and much more.

One of the ways Challenge achieve this is through Supported Independent Living (SIL), a service that supports people who are unable to live independently and want to immerse themselves in a shared living space with others of a similar age and interests.

Supported Independent Living (SIL) is a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funded support that provides eligible people with help and/or supervision of daily tasks to develop the skills of an individual to live as independently as possible.

Challenge offers SIL as a shared living arrangement in spacious modern homes with experienced support workers on hand 24/7.

Cooking a yummy butter chicken and having a chat with his support worker after work is all in a day's routine for 19-year-old Jamie. On the autism spectrum, Jamie lives in Challenge Disability Services Supported Independent Living (SIL) in Wyong and is going from strength to strength.

"Over the four years I have known him, Jamie has matured enormously," confirms support worker Chris. "Since finishing Year 12 last year, Jamie has become much more independent and now works four days a week at Terama Industries in Gosford, packing and labelling."

Jamie catches a bus then a train from Wyong to Gosford, then has a short walk to work, all of which he navigates independently. These are big achievements for any young person just out of school.

He loves playing computer games and is learning how to budget so he can one day buy his own computer.

Support workers use a variety of strategies to help people become more independent. The main one for Jamie has been hurdle help. "Hurdle help is about showing Jamie how to complete everyday tasks, like hanging the washing on the line or making a piece of toast," explains Chris.

"Often the actions we take for granted are not obvious to someone learning independence. For example, rather than just throwing the clothes over the line, I show the young person how to spread the clothes out and peg them so they dry properly and don't blow away. As we fill in the gaps with one skill, we move onto another, like replacing frozen vegetables with peeling fresh ones."

Coping with change was a big challenge for Jamie initially, but in the shared home environment he has learned to accommodate change better. "As his three support workers, we are here to help him," says Chris. "We don't do everything for him but Jamie knows he can come to us if he feels challenged or needs help. This continuity gives him a sense of security and prevents him from becoming overwhelmed as he increases his independence."

Continuity, predictability and routine are critical for someone on the autism spectrum. With SIL Jamie knows what will happen when and he knows who his support workers are. Sharing the home with others also brings with it companionship and a sense of belonging.

To learn more about SIL options with Challenge contact 1800 679 129 or email disabilityservices@challengecommunity.org.au

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