When Choo Ying and Soren entered their 60s, they started to think about what would happen to their son when they were no longer around.
Reuben, centre, with his Mum Choo Ying and his Dad Soren.
They began building a two-bedroom flat under their Auckland home for 29-year-old Reuben, who had always lived at home with them.
‘We could see that in time, we would physically not be able to look after him ourselves, so we wanted to prepare for the future,’ Choo Ying says.
Then they heard about the Ministry of Health’s Choice in Community Living (CiCL) demonstration and went to a seminar to find out more about it.
‘We thought it (CiCL) actually fitted very well. From what we could see, with CiCL quite a few people came out of residential care and into their own home,’ Soren says.
They went on to select Renaissance as their service provider, but advertised for, interviewed and hired Reuben’s support staff themselves, with Renaissance assisting with the employment contracts.
‘It’s worked out perfectly for us,’ Soren says. ‘As soon as your child goes to residential care you’ve really lost any influence over what’s happening there. We wanted to influence the quality of Reuben’s care.’
Through CiCL, Soren and Choo Ying hired a young couple, who also live at the flat. Having trusted people with Reuben from evening to morning has meant Soren and Choo Ying can finally sleep easy.
‘We didn’t appreciate it at the time, but realising that someone is supporting him for 12 hours, when we were doing it on our own before, that’s been quite good for us,’ Soren says.
‘With somebody supporting him, we are not carrying the worry so much. We realise there is a solution. By the time we’re not able to physically do anything anymore, we will know that he’s here, safe and happy,’ Choo Ying says.
As part of Reuben’s support package, a support worker visits for four hours a day to help him improve his socialisation, communication and self-help skills.
Reuben has been out of his parents’ home for six months and his Dad says they have already seen a change. ‘We have noticed an increase in his level of confidence. It’s like he feels he has more status.’
Soren and Choo Ying say CiCL gives the family more flexibility and control. ‘CiCL offers the opportunity to stay involved as time progresses with Reuben and that’s something that wasn’t on offer before.’
Disabled people and families should have ‘a serious look at CiCL’, Soren says. ‘We think it’s great.’
Stephen, Reuben’s facilitator at Renaissance, says the organisation is ‘really excited’ about CiCL. ‘We really encourage people to come forward to give it a go.’
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.