Moving into your own home is a special milestone but for Elise Miller, it holds extra significance.
Elise has finally had the birthday party she’s dreamed of for so long, with friends, family and other supporters celebrating in her new purpose-built home.
The sociable 34-year-old has lived with her parents all her life but, according to her mother Vicki, had “clearly” reached the point where she was seeing too much of mum and dad.
Elise has severe cerebral palsy, epilepsy, a mild intellectual disability and is non-verbal but can communicate her needs to those who know her well.
“We bought the block of land a while back with this in mind and hired the architect three years ago, about the same time Elise joined the National Disability Insurance Scheme,” Vicki said.
“It’s taken a while but we wanted to be sure everything was just right, which it now is – the builder has done a really good job.”
Elise moved in at the beginning of August but Vicki had to find and train up a team of eight support workers who will be on hand to provide one-on-one care 24 hours a day, seven days a week in rotating shifts.
“She just loves her new place, she’s more mellow since she’s moved in,” Vicki said.
“Elise enjoys being out and about and likes company, especially when people are having fun. Now she’ll have the extra joy of having her friends over to her own home and having fun there.”
Vicki says she and her husband have built two houses on the block, one for Elise “and one for us to move into when we’re ready to properly retire.”
Elise’s home has three bedrooms and is entirely flat, removing the need for ramps, and also features wide doorways, wide hallways, floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, an accessible bathroom and a large open lounge/kitchen/dining area.
Her NDIS funding has paid for occupational therapy assessments, builder consultations, the installation of an overhead hoist between her bedroom and bathroom, plus key items such as a new bed and shower trolley.
Leftover track from Elise’s bedroom hoist installation has also been routed through to the lounge room so she can have ‘floor time’ there.
“One of the two extra bedrooms will be used by the support workers who stay over while the other will be their office to do reports and other paperwork,” Vicki said.
Elise’s new home is much closer to town, putting her within easy reach of the central business district.
She also has her own modified car that her support workers use to take her to various activities, including her day program.
“Elise spends five days a week with disability service provider Aruma – three days a week she’s out doing various activities with one-on-one support, and two days a week she participates in group activities,” Vicki said.
“She’s one of eight who have been together in that group for 15 years since they left school, and they’re good friends.”
For Vicki and her husband Phillip, Elise’s move into her own place marks the start of a new phase in their lives.
“I have a plan to set up a circle of support for Elise that will take over my role,” she said.
“It will have my two older daughters on it along with other key people, maybe six in total, and between them they’ll take charge of things like making sure her car is registered, that her house gets painted, that doctor’s appointments are made, that things get done when needed.”
Elise’s most recent NDIS plan funded a Support Coordinator for the first time, which has proved invaluable given the circumstances of Elise’s move against the background of the COVID lockdown.
Vicki also receives support from Elise’s Local Area Coordinator Belinda Separovic, who works for NDIS partner Social Futures.
Vicki chuckles wryly that Elise’s place will “probably become party central” once her routine is worked out.
“They’ll be able to have barbies, visit clubs, watch the footy, go to the movies, have charades nights, all the sorts of things that adults do socially which she hasn’t been able to do much of until now because she’s been stuck at home with us – and to be honest that’s boring for her,” Vicky said.
“Her comprehension is pretty good and over recent times she’s learnt to express herself better, so with all the support she’s got now she’ll be able to be a lot more independent.
“The support arrangements we’ve put in place will really allow her to live her own life for the first time – she’ll be able to get up when she wants, do what she wants during the day and go to bed when she wants, just like anyone else in the community.” - Elise's mum)
Source: Social Futures