Maggie’s Holiday House
At 17 years of age, Magdalene (Maggie) had spent only a handful of nights away from her parents on school camp, making her recent stay at Identitywa’s Children’s Respite House a milestone of independence.
For her parents, June and Robin, Maggie’s overnight stay meant they could celebrate their 24th wedding anniversary by going out to dinner.
The success of Maggie’s stay was also enjoyed by Therapy Focus and Identitywa staff who came together to make her transition to respite as smooth as possible. This is how it happened:
Preparations began a few months ago with Therapy Focus’ Behaviour Support Coordinator, Margaret Ho taking photos of the house and turning them into a ‘social story’. Maggie’s parents read the story to her which begins, ‘This is a story about my holiday house!’
After several readings, it was time to bring the story to life with a visit to the ‘holiday house’. Asked if she would like to stay, Maggie’s answer was a resounding “Yes.”
The big day arrived, with Margaret and Identitywa Support Workers spending time together to understand how to engage Maggie, involve her with other children and keep her settled. Key to reducing Maggie’s anxiety at being away from her parents was a ‘timetable’ devised by Margaret.
Identitywa Support Worker, Celine Kaissaris used the timetable to ask Maggie what she’d like to do. “We showed her pictures of possibilities and she chose to watch a movie and play on the trampoline. Once she finished that activity, she moved the picture to the ‘done’ column.”
Margaret explained, “This helps Maggie focus on what’s going to happen next so she doesn’t get anxious and repeatedly ask Where’s mum? or When am I going home?”
Children’s Respite House Coordinator, Amanda Daniels said, “We also did things like ask Maggie to help staff in the kitchen because she likes cooking, and put a TV in the bedroom Maggie stayed in because that’s what she’s used to at home.”
Respite is one stepping stone Maggie’s family is exploring to help her pursue her future goals. June said, “She’s graduating from Year 12 next year and we want her to learn more independence. She wants to look after children or older people. She’s really interested in this but she needs more experience.”
Identitywa CEO, Marina Re said “Maggie’s story is a great example of how organisations like Identitywa and Therapy Focus can learn from each other and work collaboratively to progress people’s life goals.”
“Although it’s in its early stages, the Memorandum of Understanding we have with Therapy Focus is designed to encourage this.”
Therapy Focus CEO, Matt Burrows agreed. “We want to raise awareness amongst both our staff of how our complementary services can provide more holistic solutions for the children we support.”
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