Optimising the quality of life for people living with disability since 1938

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Optimising the quality of life for people living with disability since 1938 |

(08) 6282 1900

Developing skills for life – moving towards independence

Most of us can appreciate the excitement of moving into our own home for the first time. For seven people from Rocky Bay’s residence, the excitement is beyond compare, especially when you consider that some of them have been in the residence for more than 30 years.

Moving can also be a time of anxiety, particularly if it is your first time living independently – Will I be able to manage? Can I stay healthy? How do I do my own washing, cooking and cleaning? etc.

To support the residents through this transition, Rocky Bay has provided a ‘Training for Life’ program with the aim of establishing their goals and helping them to develop skills to live happily and independently.

The program, developed and implemented by Rocky Bay Team leader, Lorraine Nitsch,  was run for six hours per week for 16 weeks and was also attended by three support staff members who assisted participants with reading, writing and carrying out practical tasks such as menu planning, food preparation, shopping and personal hygiene.

One 40 year old participant proudly exclaimed “I did it all by myself” – he was referring to brushing his own teeth – a previously unattainable skill he is now proud to have achieved.

‘Training for life’

During the Training for Life program, residents engaged in many one-on-one and small group learning opportunities, onsite and in the community, preparing them to do some of the things you might take for granted:

  • The importance of a safe and hygienic environment
  • Fire safety techniques and fire extinguisher use
  • Development of healthy meal plans
  • Using adaptive equipment such as tilting kettles, cutting knives with handles, and adaptive peelers and chopping boards
  • The importance of being green – appropriate recycling and rubbish disposal
  • Managing household budgets, shopping and comparing prices
  • Accessing the community safely
  • Building self-esteem

Support from a passionate team leader

Lorraine, who studied for a Health and Sport Science degree in Ireland, said “I have always been passionate about working with people living with disability. My passion for promoting life skills and independence was heavily influenced by a senior physiotherapist who provided me with opportunities to personally design and implement programs.” This is something she has been able to take to the next level at Rocky Bay.

Lorraine is now helping program graduates to transition into their new homes and is looking forward to continued training and support for current and future residents of the McCabe Street independent living units.

Transition and ongoing support

While the ‘Training for Life’ program prepared the residents with some of the skills they might need before the move, there is also a transition program underway to support the individuals through their move and for the next 12-18 months.

The transition is being managed by Occupational Therapist Kristen Merritt, from Rocky Bay’s Therapy and Professional Services team, in partnership with Rocky Bay’s Lifestyle Services team and students from ECU and Curtin University.

Kristen worked with the individuals to establish their goals for living skills they wanted to develop, which they then rated in terms of importance. Each week two 4th year Occupational Therapy students work on goals with each individual in groups and one-on-one – as well as being excellent support for the residents, the practical experience is also the students’ final step in their qualifications.

Some of the goals the individuals have set themselves include:

  • Planning and cooking their own meals together
  • Maintaining a vegetable garden
  • Barbequeing and playing games together
  • Doing their own laundry and cleaning
  • Increasing independence in care tasks (like shaving and taking medications)
  • Keeping in touch with family and friends

Men at work

Three of the new residents who are sharing a house all said they would like to cook for themselves, when setting their goals. They have since agreed to each cook for the house two times per week and get a take away on a Friday!   It is the beginning of a wonderful new adventure for each of them.

Would you like to live more independently?

If you are currently living with family, or in a residence or a supported group home, and would like to try out living more independently but in an environment where you still have access to 24 hr support if you need it, perhaps Rocky Bay’s independent living units are for you?

There are still five rooms available – find out more here.


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