Published 6 June 2022
Romnick was 18 years old when his mum and dad asked us to put him on the residential care waitlist for adults with high and complex disabilities. It was the hardest decision they had ever made and they felt guilty it came to that. Theirs is a close-knit, loving family and caring for Romnick was all they knew. Romnick is on the spectrum, has intellectual disability and needs constant supervision to keep him and others around him safe.
When lockdowns rolled in, Swati, one of our connector case managers, knew she needed to engage intensively with their family. Mum was in tears every time Swati checked in on them. Their son’s behaviour was becoming increasingly unmanageable and risky. They were at the end of their tether, extremely burnt out and mum also had to contend with her own health issues.
Our experience over the past two years shows that many families like Romnick’s suffered from low levels of wellbeing during lockdown. Families had no access to out-of-home respite, they were cut off from community supports and felt frustrated by the shortage of experienced carers.
Swati looked for support groups on social media for the family, researched where they could find carers, listened to their concerns, and kept an eye out for an opening in a care home. She talked to them about Individualised Funding so they can pay family or close friends to provide alternative support to Romnick. At first they were hesitant to let relatives see the true challenges they faced. But their families understood that they were crisis and were willing to come on board to provide some relief.
And then, just a few months ago, a light at the end of the tunnel—an opening at a residential home became available. The family waited two years for this opportunity, an experience that is common for most people waiting for residential placement. It takes long to place a person in a care home for several reasons: high demand for the service and limited residential homes in Auckland means available spaces in residential homes are as rare as hen’s teeth; families need to be assured that their loved one is a good match for their new home; providers need to conduct a thorough risk and funding assessment to ensure that appropriate care and services are available to support a person’s complex needs.
Romnick has started the transitioning process to his new home. This process typically includes visiting the residential home several times, carers having a chat with other families and residents, and understanding how day-to-day life unfolds for both the residents and support staff. His parents have discussed Romnick’s special dietary requirements with the home leader, are pleased with the warmth displayed by the staff and are learning more about the activities Romnick could participate in to stay healthy and fit.
Our Funding team also play a role in ensuring that people receive the best possible support from residential homes. Largely working behind the scenes, the team engage in several discussions with residential homes and thoroughly check that a provider's funding proposals can give the level of care a person needs and that the provider can meet them.
Just recently, our Funding team agreed on the proposal from Romnick’s residential home which takes the family a few steps closer to their goal of Romnick getting specialist care 24/7 and ongoing family support in the background.
Romnick's family is focused on the positive aspects of the new living arrangement. Carers who have been in the same position learn that not having the person live with you doesn't mean you love them less. This is new territory for Romnick's parents and that's what we're here for--to listen to people when they tell us what a good life looks like and support them to reach their goals.
If your loved one has high and complex need and you want to find out more about residential care options, let one of our friendly connect case managers or support facilitators know. They’ll let you know about eligibility for residential placement, waitlist process or other support options available for you.