An accessible home isn’t just about the place you live, it’s about the possibilities that open up for you
Irene has always loved being active and getting out and about. Moving into her new Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) apartment in Belconnen, Canberra, has made that lifestyle so much easier.
Irene is a regular at the gym across the road, and is often out catching up with friends from a social group she joined. Irene’s furry friend, Gus, has also helped her make new connections.
“Having my dog here makes a huge difference,” Irene says. “Dogs connect people and I’ve met so many lovely people who also have dogs here or are dog lovers! It’s a great community.”
Adapting to live with a disability hasn’t been without its challenges. After being diagnosed with MS in 2004, Irene previously had to manage in a house that was becoming less and less accessible to her. But all that has changed since moving into her SDA apartment.
“With more space to move, I can be mobile without fear of falling and tripping over,” Irene says. “I’m able to do a lot more for myself – cooking, washing, making my own cup of tea.” Irene’s SDA apartment is part of the Dusk development in Belconnen, by SDA provider Summer Housing.
Before moving, Irene had understandable concerns about what living in an SDA apartment would mean for her day-to-day life – she wanted to make sure that the right provisions were in place to provide the support she needs.
“I was worried about not knowing who to contact for essential items that would be needed to allow me to live safely alone. Was it an OT [Occupational Therapist] for this and that?” Irene says that the support she received from her SDA provider was a huge help at this time.
Irene with two dogs on her lap
“Thankfully I had Jennifer, the TSO [Transition Support Officer] from Summer Housing,” Irene says. If I didn’t have her I would have been very stressed not knowing what to do or who to turn to.”
Irene’s advice to others is to make sure you have a good support coordinator and OT to help throughout the whole process. Irene also says that Jennifer’s active involvement made the transition much easier. But an accessible home isn’t just about the place you live, it’s about the possibilities that open up for you.
As Irene says, “Living at Dusk has given me my independence back”.
“I love the control that living in an SDA apartment gives me. I can come and go as I please and entertain whenever I want in the privacy of my own apartment. I’ve made friends with some of the neighbours.”
“Being so close to the gym, physio, hair dressers, café and supermarket, I no longer need to find someone to take me in a vehicle, as I can get to all these places which are so close by myself in my wheelchair.”
“It has improved my life so much!”
Article published: September 2021
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