1 May 2024

“I have lots of friends now. I love to spend time with my friends,” said Louisa.

Image: Louisa, wearing a black jacket and pink top with her blonde hair in a ponytail, sits at a table, smiling at the camera.

Louisa lives in a big house that is split into two units with Supported Independent Living (SIL) support and has done so for 15 years. Recently, we were privileged to sit down with Louise, and she shared a few stories with us about her life and experiences. The following is in her own words.

“I had a tough start to life. I attended a mainstream primary school and experienced a lot of bullying and abuse before my disabilities were diagnosed,” said Louisa, who is now in her 40s.

“My family fought very hard for me to get access to the right services and kept me safe. My mum has always been involved in making choices for me. She was wary of me being supported by new people or services,” she said.

Image: Black and white photo of Lousia with her parents.

Louisa’s family has always been her safe space, and they are very important to her.

“There were three of us, and we did everything together. My favourite memories are when I went on holidays with my parents in our motorhome, also known as The Jolly Roger,” shared Louisa.

Louisa’s mum, Leonie, is Louisa’s best friend.

“Now that Dad has passed away, it’s just mum and I. I love my mum. We talk to each other every day, and we look after each other.”

Louisa and her parents knew that it was in Louisa’s best interest to live independently. Together, they found the home where Louisa now lives and began the process of moving Louisa into her new accommodation.

Image: Louisa looks at the camera, hugging her mother from behind.

Over time, her parents developed a trusted relationship with Louisa’s support staff, and this gave them confidence that Louisa’s needs were being met at her home.

At first, Louisa missed her mum and dad (and they missed her too) and being at her family home. At the same time, she was comfortable settling into her new, independent life.

One of the things Louisa embraced about living independently is having more choice and control of her life.

“It is important to me that I can make my own choices. Like choosing how and where I spend my time and money and who I spend it with!” she said enthusiastically.

Louisa has made some firm friendships with her housemates, including her best friend, Caroline. They enjoy hanging out, shopping, dressing up and having fun together. She also gets along well with her other housemate Robyn.

“I like to spend time with my friends. I like to choose my own friends,” she said.

Image: Louisa and her three housemates stand together as a group, dressed for a birthday celebration.

For several years, Louisa attended a Day Service that was different from the one that her friends and housemates went to. Louisa became reluctant to attend the Day Service and would find reasons not to go. She would only attend once a week instead of the five days that she was paying for.

“For a very long time, I enjoyed attending the Day Service my parents chose for me. But over the last few years, I did not want to go much anymore. It was hard talking about it to Mum as she felt safe with me going to the same place I had been going to for the last 30 years,” she said.

Louisa opened up to her support staff about how the Day Service program was no longer engaging her and about her unhappiness there.

“I spoke to my SIL support staff and told them why I was not happy," she said.

"I didn’t have any friends at the Day Service. I felt alone.”

Louisa's support team helped her find alternative day service providers.

“I talked to mum about how I want to have choice and control in my life and how I know that there are limits to what is appropriate," Louisa said.

"Like maybe she was right that a house full of puppies is not a good choice. Changing service providers when I am not happy is a great choice. Mum agreed that a change was necessary.”

Louisa now attends the Day Service she wants and enjoys the new and different programs they offer. She is back to making artwork and enjoying interesting outings. Best of all, she gets to hang out with her best friend from her home and has made new friends as well.

“I have lots of friends now. I love to spend time with my friends,” said Louisa.

Image: Louisa and one of her housemates at a picnic to celebrate Christmas.

Louisa also chose to share her story with 150 Life Without Barriers staff at a Leadership Forum. We thank Louisa for sharing her story with us all.

Social and Community Participation Services

Life Without Barriers offers various services to support people with disability living independently in their own homes.

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