Home away from home
It’s the spring splendour family social at Summer Hill House and giant handcrafted flower installations adorn the courtyard, a flamboyant stilt walker enters the front gate and a gourmet picnic table awaits.
The event is part of a regular calendar of activities introduced in early 2019 to the centre, bringing together families and creating a fun and enjoyable environment for the people we support.
As part of the Family and Community Services (FACS) transfer for the Summer Hill facility in 2018, Achieve Australia now offers NDIS funded short term accommodation and respite at the centre for people with an intellectual disability, high physical support and/or complex health needs.
Kate Beardsley has been visiting Summer Hill House since 2016 and her mum, Elizabeth Mahoney, says Kate really enjoys her stay. “Since the beginning at Achieve’s Summer Hill House, Kate asks to go to respite,” says Elizabeth. “She says ‘Summer Hill’ and that means that she is happy to go there and stay for a few days.”
Elizabeth says it’s the relationship her daughter has with the on site staff and other clients at the centre which makes the experience extra special. “Kate has bonded with the staff and some clients and, under close supervision, has the freedom to push her wheelchair around and visit other clients and staff.”
Naomi Fraser leads the team of nursing staff at Summer Hill as House Manager. “Kate loves being around people and gets involved in all the activities at Summer Hill House,” says Naomi. “When she comes to stay, Kate plays the piano and loves listening to music and doing karaoke.”
As her independence has grown, Naomi says that Kate likes to go out more now too. “We took Kate to the Easter Show this year and we can go out to the movies as well.”
For some families, short term accommodation can offer more opportunities to increase the independence of their family member, to socialise and connect with others, and the chance to have new experiences.
“I am Kate’s primary caregiver,” says Elizabeth. “My three other children are adults now and are at university or working full time and Kate’s father, Chris, has severe pain management issues, so I provide all Kate’s day to day care needs.”
“At some stage in the future, Kate will have to transition to supported accommodation.” Elizabeth went on to say.
“The benefit of attending Summer Hill House is that Kate is learning to become independent of us, her family. She is becoming familiar with carers providing her daily care needs and is forming her own friendships outside of the family home,” she says.
For Elizabeth, knowing her daughter Kate is receiving the quality care and supports she needs while still being an integral part of her family’s life, now and into the future, is so important. “My hope for the future is that Kate will live a long, healthy and happy life.”