For some time I noticed that while my oldest and youngest children are routinely invited to sleepovers at their friends’ homes, my middle child Ashton, who uses a wheelchair for mobility, never has this experience. I thought perhaps there were other kids who also didn’t get to experience the joy and excitement that comes with hanging out in a different home.
I decided that since we had the space, I’d give others the opportunity to have sleepovers with us. I set about renovating our granny flat into a custom, accessible space so people with any kind of disability can come and sleepover.
I’m passionate about providing a real-life family experience. When your young person comes to stay with us, they will be living with a real family as we go about our daily lives. We go shopping together, cook together, and sometimes we have after-dinner kitchen-karaoke and dance-offs!
We’re a pretty average family, doing normal average family things, and sometimes, that’s just what your child needs to experience.
I’ve worked in the disability sector for more than 10 years, in addition to raising a child with disabilities, so I understand the experience as a parent, and as a professional. Also, I have recently completed my Masters of Project Management, so I know how to see the bigger picture, and the details. That means I know how to create a welcoming and supportive environment, as well as how to manage the staff who will care for my child and yours.
All support workers in our home have passed a working with children check (WWCC) and Police Check, each have a first aid certificate, and I also hold a mental health first aid certificate.
Our home is two storeys and completely wheelchair accessible. The steep driveway ends in the undercover garage where the elevator takes people and their wheels to the first floor, or guests can go up the internal stairs. Or through the bottom area of the house to Lumeah — that’s what we call the self-contained accommodation section. It means ‘here I rest’ which is what we want for you, and for your child.
The downstairs area is very large. It incorporates a double garage, my laundry, my office, a big rumpus room, my elder son’s room, and through the hallway to Lumeah.
Lumeah has a huge fully accessible bathroom with shower and vanity sink, toilet, full laundry and access to the yard from the bathroom/laundry.
There is a full kitchen with a full sized fridge, dining table and cooking facilities.
Next there is a lounge room with a huge flat screen TV with DVD player, a couple of couches and a day bed if a support worker will be staying.
In the bedroom is a full size built-in robe, queen bed, and single bed. Yes, we can definitely accommodate siblings!
The top floor is where my family spends most of our time. There is a hallway area with bedrooms for my daughter Lizey and Ashton has his own room too, as well as my room.
I have a little haven room which I call my library - it’s a kid and dog free zone!
There is a large bathroom with accessible toilet and shower as well as bath and vanity.
The kitchen and dining area is huge and dominated by the big windows and sliding glass doors to show off our fabulous view!
The deck/verandah area is a favourite spot for barbecues and general hanging out when the weather is nice.
The lounge room is nothing short of enormous. With a full 9 seats of lounging as well as bean bags on the floor for comfortable sprawling, it also has a huge TV for Netflix, games, or movie watching. And that’s just half of the space! An open floor area invites safe and comfortable crawling and sprawling, not to mention impromptu dance shows or acrobatics!
The yard has been designed with wheelchair and mobility accessibility in mind. There is ample space to run and play, climb trees or potter in the garden at the accessible garden beds.
Goonellabah is an eastern suburb of Lismore. The town of Lismore is a regional capital, with a population of nearly 30,000 and all the activities and amenities to go with it.
Favourite local activities include bushwalks, shopping in the eclectic town centre, country drives to surrounding natural beauty, and coffee in one of the many cafes and coffee shops dotting the area.