Rebecca's Diary – Moving into SDA Part 1
Making the move to live independently is a big decision, made even bigger when that move is also to a different state! So I decided to write small blog entries throughout my move, in the hope that things I learnt and lived through can help others also looking to go down the same path! If you want to read a little bit about how I got to this point, check out my other article here.
Tuesday, 12th April 2022
Was very, very excited to finally receive my offer for a Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) apartment in Docklands!
When I first decided to move to Melbourne, Summer Housing’s apartments in Docklands were at the top of my list of places to live, so it was a very nervous time waiting to find out if I’ll be able to secure one. From the day my application went in, I’d been refreshing my inbox to see if the offer had come through yet. Every time my phone notifications went off I'd check, just in case it was an email with my offer! But then today, I received a message from a person who had been working with the SDA provider for me: “Good news coming your way :)” and, I must admit, I did a little happy jiggle in my wheelchair. Sure enough, a couple of minutes later the offer came through and I let out a huge sigh of relief. This dream of mine to move to Melbourne will actually be coming true!
Wednesday, 13th April 2022
With my move to Melbourne now set in stone, I definitely need to start a list of things I need to remember to do before I make the move. My parents keep telling me things I will need to remember at random times.
"Don't forget you'll need a new Victorian proof of ID," "don't forget you'll need to change your car rego to be Victorian," "don't forget you'll need to organise your own Medicare card." So many things – I feel sure I will forget something!
I've also started to tell people that I'll be making the move from Perth to Melbourne. I've decided to first tell people who are important to me the news personally, before I post it publicly on social media. It's really interesting and lovely to see the varied reactions. Everyone is super duper excited for me, which is very cool, some people are sad that I'll be leaving, and others are very pumped to now have an excuse to visit Melbourne!
Friday, 22nd April 2022
My move to SDA in Melbourne has taken a back seat while I’m in Sydney for two and a half weeks for powerchair football (soccer). But I have to say, my first trip interstate since COVID has me even more excited for my move to Melbourne.
In Sydney, I'm staying in an accessible 2 bedroom apartment, which gives me more accessibility than my family home provides. How amazing it is to be able to do the little things that others take for granted. The novelty of being able to go into the bathroom, turn the light on, grab a hand towel from a rail, and wash my own hands at the accessible sink still hasn't worn off! Who knew hand washing could bring such joy!
While in Sydney, I've also been able to catch up with some of the players who play powerchair football in Melbourne. It's been nice to rekindle those friendships and hear how much support I'll have for my move. My big worry was who I could call on for those little things that normally friends or family provide, but everyone has been so welcoming at letting me know that I can call on them if I need. I've already been invited to board game sessions and evenings at Crown Casino, so it's going to be super exciting to have those social opportunities once I move!
Tuesday, 10th May 2022
Today I met with Hannah, my Tenancy Support Manager from Summer Housing, over Zoom to discuss my move into SDA. Hannah was really lovely and helpful, and cemented (in my mind) the fact that this decision was the right one.
Hannah started off by talking a little bit about the apartments, including the features and how the onsite support worked. Being the researcher and pre-planner that I am, I came into the meeting with a list of questions and things that I wanted to discuss. Hannah was happy to work through everything with me. We finished by talking through the next steps. There are quite a lot of things you need to think about when moving into SDA – (and even more so when that move involves an interstate move too!) From here, I need to tour the apartment (which we organised for, in person). Then I need to, work with an Occupational Therapist (OT) to see if anything in the SDA apartment needs customising, (such as bench height, toilet position, etc), then I need to apply for the NDIS for required funding for the assistive technology I need - (such as a hoist, electric bed, blind automation) as well as support hours (including 1:1 support and onsite support). It’s quite the long list and there is no set timeframe as to when all of this will be completed, but it's exciting to know that the process is starting to progress!
Monday, 23rd May 2022
Today I finally got to see my apartment in person!
I was able to tee up a tour while in Melbourne for a week for work, which worked out perfectly. I had seen photos of the apartment, but the photos don't do it justice. The apartment comes equipped with a tablet that allows me to control the lights, healing/cooling, and open the front door. I think I spent 10 minutes just playing with functions, amazed by how much independence this would allow me.
I then walked through the apartment with an OT (who Zoomed in from Perth) and worked out if anything needed to be customised in the apartment to allow me greater access and independence.
I tried out everything: opening and closing internal doors, opening the pantry, trying out the drawers and cupboards, the kitchen bench height, light switches, etc. There isn’t too much that needs to be changed for me, but it was good being able to test for any accessibility issues.
The last thing booked for the day was to meet up with Sarah, from the onsite support provider. It was reassuring to hear how the onsite support worked, and how they would work with me to make ure their staff are trained up and understand my needs and preferences. As someone who is self-managed and hires my own staff, having a provider provide staff (even if it is just the onsite support) is new for me, so it was great to explore onsite support further and have all my questions answered.
Thankfully, when I toured the apartment, I took measurements of important dimensions, such as wall lengths, which will allow me to work out what will fit in my apartment, and what my layout might look like. If you are relocating to an apartment in another state. I highly recommend you take as many measurements as possible! The floorplan you get given might not be accurate, or may look bigger than it actually is. Without these measurements, I’d just be guessing what would fit – which wouldn’t be great considering I want an apartment that I can easily move around in with my wheelchair.
Rebecca has a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) from Curtin University and is now undertaking her PhD with the Summer Foundation’s Research team. She was previously the Housing Hub’s Lived Experience Team Lead
Rebecca has SDA funding in her NDIS plan and is now living in a High Physical Support apartment in Melbourne's CBD.
Rebecca is passionate about advocating for people with disabilities and ensuring they have access to the information they need to live their best life, particularly regarding housing and the NDIS.
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