Family Holiday Respite Village Vision Planning Gatherings
What if there was somewhere I could go with my daughter (who has Intellectual Disability/Autism): Where she can be involved in engaging activities that are part of life in a village-type environment; Where she receives "natural" community support, and the care-burden on myself is reduced; Where I can feel supported - by being with other parents/carers of special needs families; Where my daughter has friends and where other families with special needs children stay also or visit; Where affordable engagement therapies, training and support for people with special needs are offered, and funding actually goes towards building a community for our kids and a secure structure s that when we die, we know they are safe and will be looked after.
This Vision is to enable families with children and young adults to come together and spend time living in community, feeling supported by paid carers, friends and each other. Being part of a natural learning environment and activity program. Giving quality-of-life and enriching experiences to carers and their families, support staff and friends... Contributing to local life here in Bali towards community projects and workshops that raise awareness about sustainability in practical ways...
Finding compatibilities, common strengths and building towards a community-living environment where our kids can spend more time and form lifelong relationships... I believe that it is safer for our kids to be “in community” than “alone” in a care home/institution... And forming naturally protective community around our kids is the best safeguard for their future when we are “gone”.
We can safely embrace the natural joy our children bring when we can cope with their care. We have so much to offer as humans when we can be supported/enabled to. The premise of this village community is co-contribution... doing for 3 or 4 hours a day what you love whether it's gardening, preparing food, helping in the school/workshop, natural building, giving health treatments/workshops, housekeeping or accounting... Taking rostered turns at supervision for our kids activities (co-operative care) ensures their care needs are best met together.
Whether it be in day-based activities with the kids, community support, kitchen, laundry, gardening, cleaning, driving, leading yoga/meditation/sport activities... everyone has a part to play and levels of contribution can vary according to ability and means. Financial and non-financial (in-kind) forms of contribution are equally valued and enable those who need it to "rest"; Parents get to enjoy spending time with their kids! (and other siblings who often miss out on their parents’ time).
I imagine living in a community with my daughter and with other families - where I spend time With her doing activities with her for some time most days, but I am not responsible for being her "Carer". I have my own house/space; my own life: I need to live in an environment where I can be supported in my daughter Freyr’s care needs... I see that through a combination of support staff and helpers/volunteers and collaborating with other parents to roster supervision, a community can be created around our kids that is like a natural village – where it’s not ‘WORK” to look after PWD; it’s not a “job”! It’s just life – in which everyone has a Vital role.
Activities at Local School
Natural Community Inclusion
Enlisting help from in-kind/ volunteer work-exchange community
Life Skills; Natural Learning
New Experiences; New Friends; Supportive Collaboration
One way I thought to reduce the cost of carers and free up parents' time would be to have like a cooperative roster with other parents for a group of kids that do a farming activity together. Carers would also have to be present but as a parent, I want to know my daughter and her carers are always being supervised by someone whose interests are the same as my own.
I drew this as an example “time schedule” where parents can share the supervision of a daily schedule that may include community farming activities. With additional paid or trained volunteer carers – I think this could work.
In the context of a family homestay environment, activities could be organised around community farming, meal preparations and eating together, physical and therapeutic activities, excursions and relaxation time.... Here is an example:
Community Farming Gatherings - Holiday Activities and Post School Program
Community Agriculture - A community “cottage industry” business engages PWD in daily activities – whether it be towards a craft product, natural medicine/health care product, or food product. (And it's an opportunity to diversify our farms and strengthen ecological local farming).
Involving PWD in cottage-industry farming activities can gain the benefits of community involvement and a more natural “supervision”-style inclusion activity. Co-op members co-contributing in the farming area, Carers and Help Exchange volunteers assist in farming/food-growing activities and provide general or individualised care supervision for our 'kids'. Examples of inclusive fun activities are carp-farming, flower-picking, vegetable gardening, weeding, mulching, raising seedlings, watering. harvesting and processing produce... it really depends on the group of 'kids' and on what activities are most appropriate.
Community gardening can further social reaches/goals for people with disabilities, and community supervision will mean a more natural sense of accountability than one finds (in my experience) in conventional care homes or disability centres.
Caution must be taken for people who are vulnerable and appropriate supervision must always be present. Additional utilisation of CCTV technology to ensure our "children" are safe at all times (I have researched human psychology also and behaviour just even when people subconsciously even feel eyes on them) can be applied appropriately to certain areas and also to ensure overall community safety.
Human psychology seems to show that if people think/know they're being watched, they are less likely to be 'dishonest'. For example, I happened to go to the same beach where my daughter was with an employed carer from a government-funded care agency in Australia in 2015. I saw my daughter was alone swinging on a playground swing while the carer some 20-25m away (out of direct sight from my daughter) was cleaning out her car. There was no other public around. The carer then went into the public toilets adjacent to the swings for around 4-5 minutes again leaving my daughter on her own on the swing alone. I'm sure had she known I was there – she wouldn't have been leaving my daughter unattended.
Family supervision in Asia is much more natural – in the sense of a group of people – not necessarily biological family only. It gives us a natural accountability that traditional care organisations don't seem to have at present. HERE is my spcheil about the culture I perceive in disability care in Australia. Maybe it's arguably better than no care but I hope that as humans we can gain a sense back of what it's like to do things together, working co-operatively and having fun at the same time.
It's something I've experienced living in Asian cultures - a sense of shared family responsibility or just hanging out doing things together. The Bhutanese people who came to my project at the Wah Day's farm in Cairns displayed this perfectly also when i was there (with my daughter more so). It would have been nice to see that project grow to support/enable refugees to grow produce and help people with disabilities be involved while also learning English in a more casual but practical environment... where they can share their existing skills and learn new skills in organic farming also. Bi-lingual PODD books can be set up and enhance communication ability between cultures and bridge the language/speech gap also.
Now my model more reflects the value of produce-sharing... In terms of my current thinking, local farmers and village people can be employed as carers as well as gardeners to assist in the village with food growing activities and alongside care staff/ community members/parents in a ratio that enables adequate supervision and safety.
Having lived in Asia for 3 years now, that mornings schedule does look very tight. I think the 9am task activity would be more likely to occur at 10.30/11.30am and be more like a free time period. Anyway, the types of activities and how they're conducted is the most important thing. Having the systems in place can then enable fluidity through parents involvement in management... a bit like how a Steiner School involves parents in aspects of the school structure and running as opposed to being "consumers"... The Commercial Retreats will run as the community grows to accrue funds for the next seeding so those families wishing to join may have the support to do so. This will be covered more deeply in an upcoming section and something I will be posting about on the Blog.
Register your interest in joining our Supported Family Retreat in Bali
Whether you'd like to be involved co-contributively behind the scenes or would like to invest by financial payment - we'd like to start planning the exposition for Family Revivement Groups coming to Bali... And future retreats that will be popping up in Australia. So register your interest here and you will receive correspondence from us shortly to identify needs and options for collaboration.