It was important for us as a family that Jessica have the same opportunities as others in all areas of her life.  Even in the early days it was clear that jessica would plan to move out of the family home at some stage, but there was initially no idea about how to make that happen.  As she grew older and the family started to talk together and to Jessica about her moving out, she warmed to the idea, but made it very clear that she didn’t want to live with disabled people.

With just these two initial criteria:

  1. Jessica would move out of home and live independently, and
  2. Jessica’s expressed desire not to live with disabled people;

we began the process of making that dream come true.

We heard about PlanNET’s  planning workshops, and with Jessica we attended them in 2010, along with several other families.  We were challenged and provoked to think inclusively with Jessica and to dare to dream.  The PlanNET team guided us well.  At the end of the course, we had a hard copy of a plan that we could start to work from to build a good inclusive life for Jessica.  Through participation in the course we easily identified some other key aspects to making the dream of living independently happen.  We realised that the community Jessica lives in is the community she is connected to and where she is known.  We never wanted Jessica to live so far away that we had to make an appointment to see her.  Once the ‘where to live’ question was answered we set about finding a suitable place.  knowing that the government would not fund housing in our area we invested in a a property that ideally suited Jessica’s needs; an apartment with three bedrooms in a quiet cul de sac near ten other apartments, within easy walking distance of the family home.  More importantly, it is also within walking distance of the shops, doctor, cafes, church and other places Jessica likes to hang out.

In January 2014, with government funding and enormous administrative help from PLANnet ASSIST, Jessica moved into her own place.  She house shares with another friend from the local area and there are plans for another person to also move in.  With funding support, Jessica receives up to 14 hours per week of assistance, training and supervision that allows her to grow and develop skills and a routine and a support network in the new living environment.  She lives with housemates that live regular lives and are able to assist with both paid hours and with incidental care.

For Jessica, she gets to live in a place she likes and calls home, with people she chooses, in a community she chooses to be in.  She chooses how she spends her spare time and living close to the family home, she can come and go as she pleases, but often is not seen for days as she grows into her new life.

As a family, we are pleased that Jessica is living a good life.  Making plans and networks early have meant that Jessica’s move from dependence on her (aging) parents has happened in a way that is much more in keeping with her stage of life.