Independence is important for everyone. Being independent empowers us to take care of ourselves, pursue our goals and dreams, and contribute meaningfully to our homes, relationships and communities. For many people with disability, the journey to independence starts at home.
This has certainly been true for Diane, an Endeavour Foundation client who lives in Supported Independent Living (SIL) accommodation and attends the Learning and Lifestyle hub in Nambour. We caught up with Diane to ask her how she embraces independence in her everyday life, what she does around the house, and what advice she would give to other people with disability who want to be more independent.
Diane’s top tips for feeling more independent:
1. Have a regular routine
Having a routine creates a sense of structure and purpose in our lives. It can help us stay organised and feel in control. Have a plan for what you will be doing each day, whether that’s going to work, seeing friends, exercising, being out and about in your community, enjoying hobbies, or just relaxing at home.
Routines are different for everyone. It depends on what your goals are and what you like doing.
For Diane, a routine filled with lots of different activities is what works for her. A week in Diane’s life consists of helping out around the house, going for daily walks, volunteering at her local cafe and attending the Learning and Lifestyle hub in Nambour.
“I go to the Learning and Lifestyle hub on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Diane said.
“I go to Compass Connections Café on Mondays. I also go to the farm on Wednesdays and Fridays.”
Diane prepares her own food in the kitchen
2. Help out with daily chores
Chores are a part of life. Everyone has jobs to do at home to keep their space tidy and clean. Think about the household jobs that you like doing, or want to get better at. Can you help out, or take these responsibilities on by yourself?
Diane shared some advice with us about what she would tell people who want to feel more independent at home.
“I would tell people to help out,” Diane said. “Start with putting the dishes in the dishwasher.”
Taking responsibility for things around the home can help to build independence. It allows you to have control over your space, know where things go, and feel comfortable being in a clean and organised home.
Prioritise the tasks that you like to do and are good at, and get support with the things you don’t enjoy or need help with. Doing tasks at home that you are good at can help you feel accomplished.
“I do chores around the house. I wash my clothes and help the staff do the dishes and set the tables,” Diane said. “My favourite job is vacuuming and mopping.”
“I can clean the bathroom. It helps the staff out. I have learnt how to do it.”
Diane shows off her Broncos football
3. Make your own decisions
Your life is yours alone, so you get to decide what you do with it. Even if you need support around the home, you still have control and can make decisions about what you want.
Diane is a big fan of Australian music and the footy, so when she moved into her home she made sure to decorate her own room to reflect the things she loves.
“I got to decorate my room. It has Broncos and John Farnham [posters in it],” Diane said.
There are many opportunities in the day to make your own decisions. For Diane, taking control of her morning routine and getting herself ready helps her feel independent.
“I feel proud when I get myself ready. I pick out my clothes myself,” Diane said.
“I make my breakfast. I get myself ready. I do my hair and get dressed.”
4. Get active
Healthy habits are important to our overall health and well-being. Being active by doing a sport or activity you enjoy is a great way to be healthy and feel good about yourself. Exercise can also build independence by empowering us to take care of ourselves, be more mobile, and improve physical fitness.
Exercise doesn’t have to be intense or require any special equipment. There are lots of low-impact ways to move your body, either at home or out in your community. Going for a walk around your neighbourhood is a great way to get outside and go at your own pace.
“I like walking,” Diane said. “I go for walks every day. I sometimes do laps around the house.”
Diane also gets active with the Learning and Lifestyle hub, where she participates in horse riding every second Tuesday.
“Riding horses makes me feel happy,” Diane said. “The horses are really calm. You bounce when riding them.”
5. Ask for help if you need it
Communication is a powerful tool for expressing ourselves and being understood. Don't hesitate to share your thoughts, feelings and needs with those around you. Asking for help when you need it is important, and will help to ensure you receive the right support to live independently.
Diane shares that she often asks for help with some daily living tasks.
“I ask for help when I wash my sheets,” Diane said.
“I go grocery shopping and pick out food. The staff help me.”
There are so many ways to start embracing independence at home, and it all starts with you. If you’re trying to increase your independence, starting with simple daily tasks, creating routines, getting active and seeking support when you need it will set you on the right path to conquer your bigger goals and dreams!
Are you ready to start your road to independence at home? Learn more about Supported Independent Living or explore one of our Learning and Lifestyle hubs.