Amy's story

A lot has changed since 39-year-old Amy moved into her own flat.

Amy (left) with her key worker Bridget.
Amy (left) with her key worker Bridget.

Since moving into her own flat using Choice in Community Living, Amy is busier, has matured and is enjoying having more freedom.

She is busier, has matured and is enjoying the extra freedom.

Amy's schedule is packed with part-time work; skiing and swimming with Special Olympics; writing a series of books about dolphins; going horseriding with her Dad; cooking; socialising; and keeping her flat tidy.

'I don't watch much telly because I'm too busy,' she says.

Amy has moved from a residential service and into a self-contained flat, with the help of the Ministry of Health's Choice in Community Living (CiCL) demonstration.

Since the move, she has become more independent. 'Now I can do my own shopping. I've learned to cook teriyaki chicken and bread and butter pudding - my favourites. I cook my own pasta. I can cook my own roast dinners.'

Amy joined CiCL because she wanted to have more freedom. 'Now I can cook whenever I want, I can clean whenever I want. I have my own alarm so I can get up on my own without anybody else saying, 'Get up now'.'

Amy has worked part-time at IDEA Services for seven years. It was through her admin role that she met Bridget, who is now her key worker.

'Since Bridget and I are almost the same age we get on like a house on fire,' Amy says.

Denise - Amy's Mum: Choice in Community Living came about for Amy because really for the last year living in a residential home she wasn't happy. And we jollied her along because she'd been selected to represent New Zealand in the Special Olympics and she was going to coaching twice a week.

[Video of Amy training in the gym]

She had this wonderful experience, came back believing she could conquer the world.

So, the time was right to explore other opportunities for her.

Amy: I got sick of flatting anyway.

I was at the point of wanting to be more alone.

Denise: She wasn't happy. I talked to Idea Services, or IHC, about why she wasn't happy and in the meantime we'd heard about this opportunity.

We were fortunate enough to have a self-contained studio. So, it was suggested maybe it could be an alternative for Amy. So, then Taikura Trust got involved - the funders - and it just grew from there.

Amy: I can cook my own roast dinners by myself now when I'm not meant to be able to. When I was at my flat, only one day a week I'd be cooking. Now I'm cooking five, or six.

I'm an author here. Bridget's helping me to edit it.

[Video of some of Amy's writing books and folders]

Bridget - Idea Services: I do 10 hours a week with Amy where I just come in and we do all sorts. We do a menu plan.

We do budgeting, friendships, so we organise social life.

[Video of Bridget helping Amy with various things. Menu planning, bag packing.]

We've got her up on Facebook. Got her onto internet banking. But the daily household stuff, Amy's actually pretty much got that down pat herself with just a little bit of help learning some new recipes and around safety issues of answering the door.

Amy: She comes in and helps me to be more independent, like to do my own shopping for instance. And now I can do my own shopping.

Since she is nearly my age we get on good, like a house on fire, I say.

[Video of Bridget helping Amy with her writing on an iPad]

Bridget: I think the fact that we operate more as friends than as staff and a person being supported, it's just a lot more natural for us in that I feel like it's more of a mentoring role.

Denise: Amy has grown because she is more aware of the choices that she's got.

She's learned to think and plan ahead. She's also learned that being on her own comes with responsibilities so she's had to adjust and take on those responsibilities. The main thing for Amy is, she feels comfortable because she's got control over her life.

[Video of Amy riding the bus]

Bridget: Amy's just really come up from being quite a dependent person and being really willing to let people do a lot of things for her, to really wanting to do stuff for herself.

[Amy - reading] "Some things have gone a little wonky are . . . "

Bridget: The biggest thing that we have done and that we've worked on and put in place for her is a way of dealing with things when they don't go right. She needs to get herself into that calm space to figure out the answer to the problem.

Amy: I stop and I breathe in and out and then ask for help if I can't get calm.

[Video of Amy going to and training in the gym]

Denise: Choice in Community Living, they know if Amy's happy, we're happy. She's got more control over her life and her environment so we're watching her grow and enjoying seeing her with this freedom.

So it is working us - or for Amy, I should say.


Bridget assists Amy to plan meals, sort out her budget, arrange appointments and organise her social life.

'I feel like it's more of a mentoring role,' Bridget says. 'I tell her how I would do things and also give her the empowerment to be able to do things her way and if we make a mistake, it's not a big deal.'

'Amy has come from being quite a dependent person and being really willing to let people do a lot of things for her to really wanting to do stuff for herself,' Bridget says.

'I've seen her grow in her confidence, in her independence, in wanting to solve things herself and not wanting to rely on other people, but also thinking beyond what she's always known. Now she's far more open to trying different things.'

Amy's Mum Denise says Bridget is 'so much more than a key worker'. 'She is a coach and a friend and really has Amy's best interests at heart. Amy is far more likely to listen to Bridget than to me or her Dad.'

Denise says Amy has more control over her life since joining CiCL. 'We're watching her grow and enjoying seeing her with this freedom. There have been some challenges but it is working for us. We are grateful that we have different options now to consider that we didn't have in the past.'

Denise and Amy's Dad Alec are excited about the changes they have seen in their daughter. 'We've seen a big difference in Amy as far as doing her own shopping using her cash card, making her own appointments and using the local bus service by herself,' Denise says.

Choice in Community Living is part of the Ministry of Health’s New Model for Supporting Disabled People. It offers eligible disabled people the opportunity to move out of their family home or a residential facility and into their own home. It also offers choice and control of how people are supported in their own home and community.

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