Amy and Brendon got married almost six years ago and manage independent living with flexible supports from caring workers who fill the gaps.
Support worker Julie has known Amy for 17 years and has seen her grow and mature, get married and move into a life of independence – a “normal part of growing up” she explains. Julie describes how special it’s been to see Amy’s development over the years and that sometimes “we, as a community, forget the normal stuff”. Julie’s one-on-one flexible living support has been committed and enduring but she says it’s really just about “filling the gaps”.
It may be ‘gap filling’ but it’s done with respect and care, covering the seemingly little things: like meal plans, bed times, rules about hygiene and cooking, to the bigger supports: like emergency contacts, assistance with budgets, medical appointments and support to work.
Amy proudly talks about ‘date night’, while Brendon makes a cup of tea. They frequently go to the local club and, after sharing a meal, Brendan watches the footy while Amy hits the dancefloor (she complains that Brendan should dance with her more), then later at home they catch up on recorded episodes of their favourite TV show.
The couple have been volunteering for about five years at HammondCare, a local aged care home that provides specialist dementia care. It’s a place that requires respect and sensitivity and they relish the visits. As they arrive they are greeted by staff, eat morning tea in the staff room, share jokes with the residents and help with the household chores. They go by the nicknames ‘Mr. and Mrs. Bingo’ after leading games every week, helping to build relationships between the residents and supporting community engagement. They feel like part of the team because they are valued as part of the team, feeling the satisfaction of work and being part of something bigger. They fit well with the organisation’s mission statement of ‘passionately improving quality of life’ of all residents, resulting in a sense of belonging for themselves and an increase in personal confidence.
Brendon is looking for paid work and Amy is also volunteering at a local public school canteen where she loves the joyful, loud interactions with children.
Julie and other flexible living support workers assist to make these opportunities happen for Amy and Brendan, providing a pathway to independent living and “normal stuff” that allows this ordinary and extraordinary couple to live fully within the community.
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