Sarah was a young 20-year-old woman from a remote country town who was at high risk of isolation. The fact that there were very few people her age around did not help her circumstances, and while she had a large family, they were unskilled in the support that she needed.
Sarah had a dual diagnosis, struggling with mental illness and intellectual disability. Sarah found basic living skills difficult, she battled in social situations, and she was not able to manage her personal hygiene needs.
Sarah came from a large family, and because of the workload, the responsibility to care for her younger siblings fell on her shoulders, despite the fact that she even battled to look after herself. As a result, they were living on microwave dinners and fast food while Sarah tried her best. The situation became overwhelming for Sarah and she began running away, displaying risky behaviours and developed a drug and alcohol problem.
Eventually this led to homelessness, with Sarah living on the streets. Her drug and alcohol problem exacerbated the family breakdown, which made her feel like her life was hopeless. Sarah just wanted to live a healthy happy life, independent and free to live a life she deserved.
When we met Sarah, she was extremely vulnerable and depressed. The first thing we did was address her homelessness. Our Y Ability team worked with Y Housing to place her in a safe but temporary living situation. Our Y Ability team worked intensively with Sarah to improve her life. Her needs were assessed, and we coordinated medical check-ups, ensured she received the medication she needed that she had been unable to maintain on the streets. Sarah was set up with a full care plan with psychological and behavioural intervention and outreach support.
As her independence was very important to her, we began to coach her, equipping her with skills like money management, shopping, cooking lessons, showering and clothes washing.
After eight months of intensive support, Sarah moved into our community-housing unit, which allowed her to reach her life goal of living independently. We have continued to support Sarah with ‘drop-in’ support; she maintains her tenancy and lives a happy, healthy lifestyle.
People with disabilities have widely varying needs, and the aim is to support the client to reach their individual personal goals. There is always room to improve the quality of their life through capacity building. At times, an early or small intervention can make a big difference to someone’s life. YWCA Queensland Y Ability works to empower people with a disability through quality, trusted and responsive support services.