Michael is a 27-year-old warm, caring, and engaging young man who has gone through the transition of moving out of his family home and into a Crosslinks Supported Independent Living home that he shares with four other young men of similar age. Michael also spends time every second weekend with either his Dad, Allan, and three brothers or me Grandma Margaret – that’s me and I am telling Michaels’s story of transition.
Michael has been with the Crosslinks Community Inclusion program for many years where he goes out on a daily basis to improve skills in many areas of his life, and in particular, skills that would assist him to eventually move out of the home. Michael also attends the Crosslinks RAP (Recreate & Participate) Community based social club and this continues to be one of the most looked forward to activities that he does. Sadly Michael lost his mother to illness when he was 23 years of age and this created a turning point in his life and those around him. There were promises made to his mother that we would all look after him as long as possible. Michael was splitting his time living between sharing with me and his Dad and brothers for about four years. We were not sure how much Michael understood about death. He had always had a fascination with the stars and the moon and will often look at the night sky. When his mother died I told him she was gone to the moon for a long time.
With me not getting any younger and his Dad and three brothers all working full-time things had to change. How could his Dad and I make the best decisions that would support Michael for the years ahead? This was not an easy subject to talk about. Through many conversations, and the support and connectedness we had with Crosslinks the idea of Michael moving into a home to share with others had to be further explored. It took some time for myself and Michaels’s Dad to look at this option and considering it from Michael’s perspective. The idea that most young people eventually move out of the family home and share with others, a sort of rite of passage. But, is it the same rite of passage for a person with an Intellectual Disability?
So the adventure began and over a twelve-month period Michael, with constant support from Crosslinks did an unhurried transition to his new home. Through a progression of day and evening visits, overnights, and eventually weekends Michael moved into his Castlefern home full time two years ago.
This change for Michael was also a change that I myself had to learn to embrace. I was suddenly not his go-to person when decisions had to be made. His appointments were made through his new home, reports and mail went to his new home. It took me some time to realise this was what a full transition meant. Thankfully Crosslinks keeps Michaels Dad and I fully informed and as involved as we would like to be in his life.In the time since Michael moved into a Crosslinks run home, I have seen him develop in his speech and interactions. The move has been so good for him. He loves nothing more than having activity and people around him and I was not able to provide that. He loves to swim, go bowling, dance, and be involved in all that is happening in and around his home. Some of his favourite music is from ABBA, Seekers, André Rieu, and ACDC, what a diverse mix.
Michael still comes to stay with me or his Dad and brothers every second weekend where he likes nothing more than having a ‘BBQ out the back’ or heading off in the boat catching Crays or just fishing. When with me he likes to assist with the cooking and still loves to have a story read to him at night time. I still feel emotional when Michael is picked up by Crosslinks Support Workers’ at the end of his weekend stays but for Michael, he just gives me a hug, waves goodbye, and is happy to be heading off to see his housemates again. I have nothing but the utmost praise and appreciation and consider it a blessing that Crosslinks stepped up with the suggestion of a transition to a Supported Independent Living option for Michael. The Area Supervisor and in particular the Support Workers have, and continue to be fantastic. They update myself and Michael’s Dad on what Michael has been up to and involve us as much as we can be.
The most important thing for us is that Michael appears to be happy and living a fulfilling life. He has the best of both worlds in being regularly able to spend time with his Dad and brothers and with me. He is fully supported by Crosslinks and their employees who care about him and all aspects of his welfare. We trust them completely.
Once again I would like to say ‘thank you’ to Crosslinks and in particular to the Castlefern Support Workers. Michael’s family and I are so appreciative of the care our lovely Son/Grandson receives.
Margaret (Grandmother to Michael)