Well after 6 or so years treading water by ourselves we have finally met an advocate. The Disability Services Commission have Local Area Coordinators to help families with just about everything. It seems when Miss A was registered with them years ago we should have been notified.....well it never happened. We got lost in the system yet again. After joining https://www.facebook.com/groups/WASpecialFamilies/ I learnt about LACs and what they can do to help. I asked Miss A's therapist if we could access them for help with respite etc and we were told no. I still don't know why to this day as we have since learnt that is wrong. So after spending months sorting out aide time for Miss L I asked again if we could have a meeting with our LAC. Many emails and missed calls later we had a meeting with the Area Manager. It took 6 plus weeks to organise this and even she said she didn't know what had caused the delays etc. Seems just like our story....nothing is ever simple.
The Area Manager was great and started helping out straight away. Our LAC had just moved so we had to wait 2 weeks to meet their replacement. Our new LAC has been amazing. I wasn't sure how things would go with the first meeting, especially as I had to cut it short to meet with L's therapist. We talked about aide time for Miss L and respite services. Then we booked another follow up for 2 weeks later.
So today I went in with 2 big concerns. Miss L has been given the minimum amount of aide time possible and 2 weeks to appeal. Miss A starts school swimming lessons in June and she needs and aide in the water with her. Our LAC was amazing. Everything we had talked about she had followed up on and given me the paperwork for. She had printed out Companion Card forms: http://www.wa.companioncard.org.au/ .
The Companion Card is a card issued to people with a significant and permanent disability who require attendant care support from a companion to participate at most venues and activities. Cardholders present their card when booking or purchasing a ticket from a participating business. Participating businesses will recognise the Companion Card and issue the cardholder with a second ticket for their companion at no charge.
She also talked to me about local social groups for Miss A and special needs dance clubs. We talked about respite options as we have nothing at the moment. I was so impressed to see her following up on what we talked about plus showing me things we have never heard of.
After the 2 incidents last week of both L and A disappearing she also helped give me some ideas on what to do. We looked at ID bracelets, books about stranger danger and even having a Police Officer come to the school for a talk. I am hoping that we can find a safe solution as I know this will happen again!
So we have another meeting booked to follow up on those issues and see how we have gone with accessing help. I really do wish we had this help years ago. So much of our journey has been harder than normal simply because we did it with no knowledge.
The Commission’s Local Area Coordination program has been supporting West Australians with disability since 1988. Local Area Coordinators (LACs) are based throughout the State and with local knowledge help people advocate, plan, organise and access the support and services they need to live a good life.
LACs work with family members and others involved in supporting people with disability, helping them to further strengthen their caring role.
In addition, LACs work to help make local communities more inclusive and welcoming. This is achieved through education, advocacy and partnerships with local community members, businesses, government and non-government organisations.
LAC support is available to people with intellectual, physical, sensory, neurological and/or cognitive disabilities who are under the age of 65 at the time they apply.
Each LAC works with between 50 and 65 people with disability, providing support which is personalised, flexible and responsive