How disability day services have changed

As the world has changed, so too has the calibre of disability supports. A perfect example of this is disability day services. These community-minded hubs have become so much more than just ‘a place to spend the day’. It’s here that you can develop your independence, confidence, self-esteem and social skills.

What do you mean by day service?

Other names people call it

  • Learning and Lifestyle hub
  • Day program
  • Day respite
  • Activity centres

What the NDIS calls it

  • Centre-based social and recreational activities

They are fun

When it comes to our Learning and Lifestyle hubs - if it’s not fun, it doesn’t work.

We had a chat to Annabel (pictured above). She’s one of our Learning and Lifestyle customers and had a lot to say about her local L&L.

“It’s so, so fun! I came here after I finished school. It’s more fun here, it’s less fun at school. It’s good here because I get to hang out with people more, and school was more homework. Also, you have to do maths tests at school. I like to learn for fun.

My goal is to get fit. I want to be fit and healthy so I can look like a princess in the model world.

My other goal is making lots of friends, but I’m already really good at that.

My other, other goal is to go on a plane by myself and travel independently.

They help me do my goals here. My favourite is when we go to the gym. I feel strong – inside and out.

The staff is really nice too. Clare is my favourite staff because she is fun and she lets me have extra turns on the whiteboard. She is great to have around. She’s just awesome. She even talks to you in a nice way by helping you out at money!”

Join Annabel at a Learning and Lifestyle hub

They are all about being part of the community

Many of our customers who attend our Learning and Lifestyle hubs barely spend time within the brick and mortar walls, they are out and about in the community doing what they are interested in.

Brent Suhr is part of our Service Design team and he’s a big advocate for community inclusion.

“Back when I was new, I walked in to a Learning and Lifestyle and there was no one there! I thought ‘what’s wrong here?’ Turns out that what was ‘wrong’ was actually so right,” he said.

“People were out for the day, in the community having a great time. At 3pm they came back to the service, singing down the street and you could just tell they had a ball! They were having such a great time engaging with the community.

Now I love it when I go to a Learning and Lifestyle service and no one is around – it means that when they eventually come back, you’ll have some great stories about what they were up to that day.”

They used to be the destination, now they’re part of the journey

Back in the day, once someone started to go to a day service, that is where they would stay.

Now, it’s just the beginning. Many people choose to use our Learning and Lifestyle services to build confidence, learn new skills and then they branch off and do their own thing, whether that be to start a business, get a job, or chase their dreams in a different way.

For people who have a goal, but think ‘I’m just not ready to tackle that next step yet’, going to a Learning and Lifestyle hub can be great to build the skills you need in a safe and supportive environment.

The same goes for school leavers. Leaving school is confronting for anyone, even more so if you have an intellectual disability. Lots of people choose to spend a few years building on their skills, learning and independence before taking their next step.

It’s all about you

It’s long been known that when it comes to people, a one-size fits all approach never works.

Perhaps the most fundamental change to disability day services was putting the person with disability in the driving seat.

Brent says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Their voices are the most important. They know what they want and the goals they want to achieve.

There is nothing more rewarding than when you are out at a Learning and Lifestyle service and you see the parents literally crying with happiness because a milestone or goal has been reached.

I stopped working in the corporate sector to give back to the community, and here I know I’m doing just that. I know that ‘making possibilities a reality’ is our tagline, but I really think it’s the best way to describe what we do.”

The NDIS has changed day services

By reshaping the way that disability supports are funded, it’s fundamentally changed the whole sector.

Brent Suhr says it’s a change for the better.

“The NDIS has empowered people to try new things and see what’s possible,” says Brent.

It’s exciting to watch people achieve their goals. In a pre-NDIS world it was all about making sure people were happy.

Now, it’s about two things, we want to see people happy and growing as a person. We want people to grow when they attend these services and the NDIS has helped people realise their goals, and that’s a big change that can’t be ignored.”

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