MARGARET River’s first group home for young adults with disabilities opened on Wednesday with morning tea.
The initiative was driven by Life Without Barriers, an organisation which supports people living with a disability to maintain their independence by enabling them to live in their own home.
More than 10 people were present on the day, including representatives from Life Without Barriers and the Disabilities Service Commission, which along with the Department of Housing and Access Housing, have played key roles in creating the opportunity.
Keith and Jenny Shurmer, parents of the home’s first resident, Sarah, 25, said this has been ‘a dream come true’ for the family after a five-year process finally secured personal funding.
Life Without Barriers manages these funds and provides full-time live-in carers for Sarah. “Having an organisation in town is really helpful,” Jenny said.
Group homes have been established in Perth, Bunbury and Busselton, but this is the first in Margaret River.
Operations manager Angie Pusey said these opportunities allow people to remain in their communities and keep their networks, rather than having to move to Perth.
“It’s all about distributing services,” she said.
As well as celebrating, Keith spoke of the feeling of guilt attached in ‘letting their daughter go’, something he believes most parents can relate to.
“You wonder – am I doing the right thing? …will she forget us?” he said.
Sarah has autism and, typical of this disability, doesn’t speak, Jenny said. However, she has been happy and very accepting of the move.
“All her stuff is here,” Jenny said with particular reference to Sarah’s favourite toy Flat Ted sitting on her bed.
“If he’s there, she knows she’s home,” Jenny said.
“We’re very happy that Margaret River finally has somewhere for young disabled people to go,” Keith said.
The house has four bedrooms, with two occupied by Sarah and her carer.
Two places are available for eligible housemates, who can apply through Life Without Barriers. However it is not just a matter of being eligible for the funding and placement, but also about compatibility with Sarah, John of the DSC said.
For information contact Susan or Kate at Life Without Barriers, Margaret River, on 9757 9227. Jobs as a respite carer are also available with applications and inquiries welcome.