Respite used to be positioned as simply helping parents of kids with disabilities to recharge but modern day respite offers so much more and benefits the whole family.
Ability Centre provides both in-home and out-of-home respite services. In-home respite provides families with support in their own home. While the out-of-home respite service is located at accommodation in Rivervale and Balcatta for adults and Ballajura for children and teenagers.
Many people use out-of-home respite services over the weekend but there is growing interest in mid-week respite. In fact, due to growing demand, additional respite spots for children with disability from Perth’s south metro area will soon be available in Ability Centre’s Arnhem Court in Ballajura.
According to Ability Centre’s Chief Operating Officer Maria Davison, mid-week respite can provide a second home for children with disabilities during the week and gives them focused one on one time, as well as the opportunity to make new friends and to develop independence.
“Our respite houses become like a second home,” says Maria. “We’ve created a family-like atmosphere and replicate home routines as much as possible. The children take part in the daily life of the house, such as helping with shopping and preparing meals. After school, they have afternoon tea, we talk about their day and the kids can do their homework or recreation activities before having dinner and going to bed.”
The service is particularly helpful for parents with young children and working parents.
“Some children require 24-hour care and full assistance for all aspect of their daily living,” explains Respite Coordinator Bernadette Williams from Ability Centre. “This can be time-consuming and stressful when you have work and other children to organise. Respite gives families a break during the week but it also means they have more quality time during the weekend as the family is not tired from providing that constant care. Importantly, it gives couples an opportunity to take time out together.”
Katie Brown certainly has her hands full with five children ranging from 8 months to 11 years. Katie’s daughter Skye (8 years) was born with Cerebral Palsy and after much anguish Katie decided to make the move to place Skye into mid-week respite.
Initially Katie was reluctant to use respite. “I was concerned it was going to be institutional but it’s not like that at all. They have themed bedrooms, which looks just like Skye’s bedroom at home, and there is a lot of space. They also have the equipment that we simply don’t have at home. Plus, the staff are great and very caring. They keep us updated on what Skye does every day and there’s a locum doctor that comes out so your mind is at ease.”
According to Katie, Skye enjoys her time in respite and it has given her a sense of belonging – a home away from home. “Skye loves it. She’s made friends and gets spoilt rotten by the staff – they do her nails, braid her hair and there is so much for her to experience and to enjoy. The staff have the time. During the school holidays they go on trips to Underwater World, to the beach, take in magic shows. She goes on more adventures than we do!”
And while Skye’s at respite, it has made it much easier for Katie to organise Skye’s brothers and sister in a routine for school, meals and everyday life in the Brown household. “When Skye was at home during the week, I used to have to get up at 5.30am just to get everyone ready in time but now we can get ready at a normal time.”
According to Katie, respite has also let the other kids, be kids. “When Skye is with us, everything is a mad rush and we don’t always get to spend quality time together. When she’s in respite, we’re able to take the kids to the beach or the pool or go on a short holiday. Basically we can do all the things that other people take for granted.”
Katie concludes: “Even though respite is a win-win for both Skye and my family, our family is not complete when she is not with us. It simple eases the pressure to go about normal everyday life.”
Dad of three, Russell Jones, also uses respite for his youngest son Matthew (14) who has Cerebral Palsy.
“We’ve been using respite for the last five years and Matthew stays at Ability Centre’s Arnhem Court during the week. We drop him to school Monday morning and he comes back home on the bus on Friday afternoon. It’s become his second home.
“The staff are friendly, always helpful, and many of them have been there a long time. They know Matthew well, and that continuity is really important.”
For Russell, a software engineer and a relief Maths teacher, respite has given him some important ‘me time’.
“Respite has given me the capacity to live a normal life for a couple of days,” says Russell. “It means I can take my other sons to footy training, or pursue my own hobbies like singing in a choir. If you don’t look after yourself, how can you look after anyone else?”
“Some families find it hard to let go and trust initially but once families see their child is happy and they are comfortable with the level of care and support provided, they never look back,” concludes Bernadette from Ability Centre.
Ability Centre provides respite services for children with a wide variety of disabilities including autism, acquired brain injury, intellectual disability and physical disability.
We know parents and caregivers have a very busy role. Let us help you take a break, while providing your child with a homelike environment where they can make new friends and learn new skills. Call 1300 106 106 or visit abilitycentre.com.au to explore customised respite support for you and your family.