Gang back ‘home’ again
“I’m 38 years young and still have 38 years left in me at Our House.”
Shane Smith has been a client of Carinity’s disability support centre in Toogoolawah – Our House – for almost a decade.
He has made some of his best mates at Our House so when he couldn’t meet his friends there due to COVID-19 restrictions, Shane felt a bit lost.
“It was hard. When we finally came back to Our House we had a big old ‘welcome back’ banner right across the room and apparently the workers reckon it was the noisiest day here,” Shane said.
COVID-19 restrictions meant the tight-knit ‘gang’ of clients couldn’t see each other for several months, instead restricted to one-on-one visits with staff.
“We adjusted our support to meet clients’ needs. Group social days changed to individual support and a lot of FaceTime so everyone could remain in contact with each other,” Carinity Our House Client Services Coordinator Maggie Poole explained.
Our House day centre has re-opened and resumed providing short-term accommodation, in-home support and personal care, social activities, and teaching life skills.
The confidence and skills Shane has developed led to a volunteer role at Gatton Transport Museum.
He formed a catering group and published a cookbook with three fellow clients and obtained his learner’s license to drive trucks.
“Our House has supported me to learn everyday life skills which has assisted me with my independence. I have also learned social skills,” Shane said.
“I’ve come a long way with my confidence over the years.”
Maggie said word of mouth had seen Our House grow from one client 10 years ago to now 34 clients from Toogoolawah, Esk and Kilcoy, and as far away as Redcliffe, Laidley, Gatton and Walloon.
“I’ve had such joy watching a group of people who were isolated and vulnerable grow into confident happy people who have formed long-lasting friendships with each other. That wouldn’t have happened without Our House,” Maggie said.
Shane said Carinity Our House was a place people living with a disability could “speak their mind.”
“No one complains, we all listen, because we are all there for everyone and a shoulder to cry on,” he said.
“What I like the most about Our House is the friendships and a tight bond between workers and clients. Our House will always have a place in my heart.”