After more than three decades spent in various rehabilitation facilities throughout her life, Yvonne had expected to move into an aged-care facility at the end of 2019. However, in a timely turn of events, she was identified as being the perfect fit for Supported Independent Living (SIL) in Horsley, NSW.

We spoke to both Yvonne and Challenge SIL supervisor Dianne Sharpe about Yvonne’s exciting new chapter.

The ideal fit for Yvonne

As a social and compassionate person who exudes natural maternal qualities, it’s not surprising that Yvonne was tipped as being a great person to share a home with other people.

“Yvonne was referred to Challenge by a social worker at Shellharbour Mental Health Unit,” Dianne says. “We have been building rapport and networking within the Shellharbour Mental Health Unit, and this is how were are gaining many referrals for accommodation services within the Illawarra region.

For Yvonne, the move has been akin to a homecoming, although she’s most excited about having a comfy double bed in her room after years spent sleeping on a single mattress.

“It’s been fantastic to have that nice, welcoming and warm feeling,” Yvonne says. “When I moved in here, it was just like coming home.”

Maternal compassion shines through

With a powerful mother figure and a daughter of her own, it’s no wonder Yvonne quickly became known for her motherly instincts and kind, caring nature.

“Yvonne has that mothering quality about her, especially with one of our younger clients who resides at Neeson,” Dianne says. “They often spend time chatting and playing games together. As for staff, Yvonne gives off a really positive aura, and staff look forward to her greeting them with her lovely smile every morning.

“Yvonne is always eager to come and inform staff about her day, and she always notices if they have had their hair done.”

A place for creativity and community

Whether it’s tackling the daily word search or reading the bible – she used to run bible-reading sessions in hospital – there’s a powerful thirst for knowledge within Yvonne as well as a focus on introspection.

“I enjoy journaling in the evening to close the day,” she says. “I write something in it every night: events that happened, my mood, how I felt. Sometimes I read over it before I write the next day. I do it for me because it’s fulfilling. It keeps connected to what’s happening around me – connected to my environment.”

Dianne says Yvonne is also great at connecting with other people: “Yvonne loves to socialise. She recently attended an ABLES disco in Wollongong and she has expressed how much she enjoyed it. We are supporting Yvonne to access as many social events as possible, and we also provide her with information on events and venues within the community which she may like to attend.”

“Working here is not a job. It’s our home.”

Supported Independent Living has given Yvonne a new lease on life, with great housemates, a supportive community around her and compassionate, empathic staff that she loves.

“It’s the best things I’ve ever done in all my life,” she says. “The staff help you out physically, emotionally and mentally. We don’t have enough of these places so I’d recommend it to everyone.”

Looking to the future, Yvonne is focused on improving her physical health. She currently goes for walks everyday with her housemate, but her goal for 2020 is to start riding a bike again.

“In the past I have been a big rider,” she says. “It’s not only good for my physical health, but for mental health as well.”

And it’s happier, healthier clients that make Supported Independent Living a shining light in so many communities around the country.

You can find out more about Supported Independent Living or the wide range of disability services provided by Challenge by calling 1800 849 017.

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