A NEW support service has arrived in Port Stephens for people accessing the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Life Unlimited Support Services have expanded their NDIS Day Support Program, with the opening of a ‘Hive’ in Medowie, offering group day programs for local people with disabilities.
Managing Director Megan Power said there had previously been a gap in support options for NDIS participants in the local area.
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“I have worked in the industry for many years and saw a huge gap to fill for participants,” she said.
“We saw a huge need for our ‘Hive’, so that people with disabilities can get together with their peers.”
Since beginning to offer support in January last year, Life Unlimited Support Services has grown from supporting one participant to 12.
Staff and participants now have access to the ‘Hive’, which is located at 6 Waropara Road, Medowie, in the overflow Church building.
“We have now got 14 staff and we have other staff coming on board to do counselling,” said Megan.
The ‘Hive’ will now operate as a home base for a range of day programs designed to promote social interaction and capacity building for people with disabilities.
“We run an array of different activities.
Support Worker Deirdre Kelly, said the social opportunities and community engagement elements to the Hive’s programs, have made a big difference to her son Cal.
“Everyone can do one-on-one support, but if you are just with your support worker, you are not accomplishing a social goal.
“As a parent, I have noticed a difference in Cal since he has become more locally based, he is fitting into the community more.
“Just to see the participants socialising and interacting with each other, and egging each other on, is fantastic.”
Programs are designed to encourage participants to become more involved in their local community.
“The thing I like about it, and I am probably a little bit Medowie proud, is that the guys have a real sense of community here,” said Deidre.
“We help out at the community gardens, who grow food for the community soup kitchen, our participants are working at local businesses, and everything gets put back into the community,” she said.
Megan Power said it was important for local people with disabilities to maintain control over their own lives.
“We want the programs to be driven by participants.
“We want them to be involved in the decision-making process.
“It’s about choice and control, which is really important.
“People with disabilities often have that control taken away from them.”
Life Unlimited Support Services programs can be accessed by NDIS participants within a 50km radius of the ‘Hive’.
“You don’t have to be from Medowie to access the service, we have people from Brandy Hill, Seaham, Raymond Terrace, Dungog and the Myall Coast.”
‘Hive’ participant Cal Kelly said he enjoyed being able to attend a support service locally.
“I used to do a program In Newcastle, and when COVID-19 hit I pretty much stopped.
“Then I came over to the program here, it’s a lot better than going to Newcastle every day.”
Cal’s mother Deidre said, “He would either have to get someone to take him there or get two busses and a ferry to get to Broadmeadow.”
For more information about Life Unlimited Support Services’ programs, visit https://lifeunlimitedsupportservices.org/ or call Megan on 0411 464 987.
By Doug CONNOR