Lisa is close to independent living after nearly 50 years at home

Published On: 26 October 2023Categories: NDIS, News
After living with her parents for nearly 50 years, Lisa is working towards independent living in an apartment on the Gold Coast.

Her parents Noel and Shirley, in their 70’s & 80’s, say it’s important for them to know that in the future their daughter will be living in an environment that she’s familiar and comfortable with.

To ensure a smooth transition, Lisa spends one night per week at her unit with her parents and then another night by herself. On the second night, Noel and Shirley enjoy an evening meal with Lisa before heading back to their home.

Lisa then returns home to her family home after her breakfast the next morning.

Noel said Lisa seems comfortable with this arrangement, and that over time and when she’s ready, she will live alone but not far from the family home.

“We’re not getting any younger, so knowing that Lisa has supports in place to help her become more independent and hopefully live by herself is a positive move,” they said.

“Living by herself has always been important to Lisa, and this unit is within easy walking distance to our own home

“This means that all of her current familiar shopping, transport and neighbourhood contacts will remain unchanged.”

Lisa, 49, who lives with mild cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability, has had supports from various organisations since birth, thanks to her parents’ diligence.

She attended mainstream school until grade 3 and then spent the rest of her schooling years at a special school. As she aged, her parents tried to give her a social life and they had someone to take her on outings such as the movies.

“Over the years we’ve also had supports from places such as the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, where Lisa has had speech, occupational therapy (OT) and physiotherapy in her early primary years,” Noel said.

Before he turned 50, Noel resigned from the Royal Australia Air Force. The couple then had a home business, which made it easier for them to support Lisa.

Noel and Lisa volunteered at the local Ipswich library a few days a week so Lisa could get work experience there and become more involved in the community.

Targeted supports help Lisa become more independent

But after moving to the Gold Coast, and once the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was introduced to the Gold Coast in 2018, Noel and Shirley were able to get some supports tailored to Lisa’s unique needs.

Noel said Lisa was one of the early people on the Gold Coast to access the Scheme. The family is now supported by Carers Queensland, the state’s largest NDIS partner in the community.

“It hasn’t always been an easy process, but it’s been worth it. Now I am 81, we’re just trying to sort a few things out so we can confidently hand over the management of Lisa’s supports when we need to,” he said.

“I’ve had a bit of an administrative and semi legal type of background, so I’ve been able to meet the demands of the reports and information required.

“When we’re coming up for a plan review, I have supplied Carers Queensland with a whole lot of reports and information. I think the last one was somewhere around 30 pages.”

Noel said thanks to NDIS-funded support workers and allied professionals, Lisa had made good progress in areas leading to living independently.

But she’s still not at the stage where she can safely live independently of them. This is something Noel is working through to ensure it happens while he and Shirley are still in good health.

“Lisa has had a number of OT sessions concentrating on cooking and meal preparation,” Noel said.

“She also has three other weekly sessions with a support worker where she reinforces the cooking training. Early results are quite promising.

“Physiotherapist sessions have also assisted greatly in her posture, coordination, and overall physical capability.

“We still have a while to go and we’re hoping future supports can help Lisa achieve her goal of living independently.”

Lisa’s future is looking bright

Shirley says Lisa has grown in confidence as she’s aged and is now better equipped to speak up about what she wants and doesn’t want.

“I catch the bus and sometimes catch the train to meet with my social groups,” Lisa said.

“I often walk to meet my support person near the post office. Dad also takes me to the dentist and mum takes me to the podiatrist and the doctor.

“I walk over to the physiotherapist by myself. He teaches me about getting stronger with exercise.

“Yes, it makes me feel good and I can do it myself without someone here.”

Lisa enjoys tenpin bowling, going to the movies, and music. She has also become better at using her phone for communication, and an iPad for basic domestic bookkeeping and receipt filing.

“A few years ago, Lisa was told that if she wanted to join a particular social group, she had to be able to use her phone so that was fantastic. That was five years ago, she’s become better and better with her phone use and using the features of a smartphone,” Noel said.

“What we are working on is when she achieves something, we push on to the next thing rather than stagnate.”

A special message for other parents of child with disability

Shirley said social connections had made a huge difference for Lisa, particularly with meeting new people and groups.

“Since she’s had NDIS supports she’s been getting better with transport and her independence. At first she was so shy she wouldn’t even go to the shop and buy fruit, but now she asks people and is pretty chatty,” she said.

Noel also has a message for other parents of a child with a disability yet to apply for NDIS assistance.

“Do your research. Get on the fabulous NDIS website, there’s an immense amount of information on there and information on what you should do for help with your plans,” he said.

Carers Queensland can support you to find out more about the NDIS, to apply for funding and to help you get started with the NDIS.

If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can help you identify and link to options for support in your community.

You can also contact Carers Queensland on 1300 999 636, cq.enquiries@ndis.gov.au, or sign up to our LAC Connect app here.