This Sunday, 3 December, is International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD), a day that promotes understanding, awareness and acceptance of people with disability in local communities.
Each year as we strive towards a society that is more inclusive and accepting of the 4.4 million Australians with disability, IDPwD chooses a theme or area where focus is needed to remove the prevailing barriers that may be preventing progress from happening.
This year’s theme is ‘United in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for, with and by persons with disabilities.’ This theme asks that communities work together to create a world that is fairer and better for all by ensuring that people with disability are included and given space to speak about decisions that impact their lives and wellbeing.
Listening to and amplifying the voices of people with lived experience accessing our services is a major focal point for Lutheran Care (LC). The importance of lived experience voices, often the most vulnerable within our community, and their contribution and guidance towards ensuring that we deliver safe, effective and inclusive services underpins the ‘why’ and ‘how’ we deliver our services.
We continue to work each day toward further embedding lived experience and guidance into our services and programs as we work with communities, families and individuals to offer support where it is needed most.
For IDPwD, we are sharing the story of Jared*, a client of Elcies Disability Care (LC’s disability services branch) where our team have been working to do just this.
Jared is a 16-year-old boy who has been supported by our Positive Behaviour Support program within Elcies Disability Care for the past year.
When the team initially met Jared, he had very limited engagement with school, only attending twice a week and he was unable to participate in or attend community events or activities. Jared also did not have the skills or confidence to complete daily living tasks, such as showering, washing dishes, folding clothes, getting dressed and putting on his shoes.
Working with his Behaviour Support Practitioner from Elcies Disability Care, Jared’s goals were to improve his health and wellbeing. His practitioner quickly recognised that increases in community engagement and participation, as well as school attendance and education were key strategies to support Jared in achieving this.
Having supported a number of adolescent clients, the EDC team understood that assisting Jared with his daily life, and increasing his independence and autonomy, would also improve his quality of life and wellbeing. This was particularly important with Jared being at a significant developmental and social stage of life where we typically start to be given more responsibility and choice over ourselves and decisions that affect us.
Reaching these goals has taken extensive hard work and dedication from Jared, his Behaviour Support Practitioner and his daily support team. By using a Person Centred approach, Jared’s Behaviour Support Practitioner continued to ensure that he remained at the centre of decision making regarding his life and goals. The EDC practitioner worked alongside Jared’s support team, providing guidance and education around how to understand his communicated wants and needs, something that is particularly important as Jared is non-verbal and uses an Augmentative Alternative Communication system to communicate.
Since we started working with Jared, he has made significant progress. He showers, dresses and puts his shoes on himself before attending school five days a week. Recently he took part in his school’s sports day, getting involved in a number of the events.
In his free time, Jared enjoys actively participating in the local community and regularly chooses to spend his free time at the beach or his favourite local shopping centre.
This year, Jared’s increased self-determination and choice culminated in attending a barbershop for the first time in his life.
With support from his Behaviour Support Practitioner, Jared attended the shop, chose which chair he would sit in, and like teenage boys all across the country, decided which haircut he wanted.
Jared has been going back to the barbers and choosing hairstyles since.
Elcies Disability Care is the disability services branch of Lutheran Care (Lutheran Community Care), a registered NDIS Specialist Behaviour Support Provider.
*Names and images have been de-identified to protect client’s privacy.