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December 2000

Providing steps towards independence

The Northcott Society's
Merrylands Independent Living.

Living independently - two residents outside Merylands villas.

"Doing my own thing is wonderful"

The goal of living a more independent life is becoming a reality for young adults with physical disabilities participating in the Merrylands Independent Living program. Modern purpose-built villas provide the opportunity for people over 18 years old to experience living on their own, with support from community services such as Home Care to assist with their daily needs.

Making decisions, solving problems, managing time and money, (and yes) making mistakes and taking risks are important steps towards independence. These experiences are not always so readily available to someone with a physical disability. Merrylands is designed to fill this important gap.

Merrylands offers both group and individual programs in community survival skills as well as the experience of living independently in rented accommodation. The villas are located in Merrylands which is a suburb in Sydney's west, near Parramatta.

Try this "Personal Goals Checklist". Would you like to:

"At home" enjoying the company of friends.

If you ticked some of these boxes, the Merrylands program could provide practical assistance to help you work towards these goals, with back up support as needed. Consider a stay from 6 to 18 months, learn new skills and make decisions about your future that are based on your new experiences.

Learning new skills, such as cooking, is part of the Living Skills Course.

Previous Merrylands residents have said:

"I was scared to try anything new but now I'll have a go"

"I didn't think I could make it. 
  I surprised my parents… and myself"

"Doing my own thing is wonderful"

"I met people and had a great social life".

Jeff's story

Jeff is a young man with spina bifida. Having tried unsuccessfully to live on his own several years ago, Jeff returned home to live with family. Jeff heard about the Merrylands program and eagerly arranged a visit to talk to the staff and inspect one of the villas. He discovered that this was the opportunity he had lacked years earlier. A chance to try living on his own, with support and guidance to learn new skills , before venturing out into independence again. Jeff enrolled in the group skills course while awaiting a vacancy to become available. Having now recently moved into Merrylands Jeff is motivated and enthusiastic about his future.

Residents outside Merrylands modern, purpose built villas.

Not ready to move in?

Merrylands Independent Living also offers a group course designed to provide survival information for living in the community.

The C.L.U.E.S. Course (Community Living, Useful Elements for Survival) covers topics including personal safety, healthy eating, consumer rights, communication, self esteem, assertiveness, stress management, relationships and sexuality. Held each year, the course runs one day per week over 12 weeks and offers a limited number of spaces available to people living in the community.

Comments from course members:

"Doing this course is the best thing I've ever done"

"It was a real learning curve"

"I already know some of the information, but for people who have been more sheltered, it is a good course to learn new skills".

Paul's story

Paul has been living independently in the community for several years. When his Community Worker mentioned the group skills course he was curious and agreed to enroll. Finding the range of topics were of particular interest to him, Paul was keen to attend each Wednesday and, because of his varied personal experiences, he was able to make many valuable contributions to the group discussions. New friendships were made, and some old ones renewed. Paul remains very happy that his Community Worker suggested the course.

Enquiries regarding The Northcott Society's Merrylands program, or the C.L.U.E.S. Course can be made by contacting The Coordinator, telephone (02) 9632 9599.

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