Transitioning to Independent Living

May 19, 2022
Natasja deKock

Moving out of the family home can be a challenging time for a person with a disability and their family members and they often experience mixed feelings with regards to this shift to greater independence. Ensuring that the person you love and care for is safe, healthy, happy and engaged once they leave the family home is a real source of stress for family members and caregivers. So how do we navigate this new adventure successfully?

Start planning early

In preparation for independent living, it is essential that the person with a disability is equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding of the way the world works. This process takes time and it is important to set realistic goals and have a plan in place to develop these skills whilst they are still living in the family home.

Capacity building begins at home

Prior to leaving the family home, persons with a disability should be made aware of the activities they will have to do independently and encouraged to do these for themselves. This can include activities like cooking, cleaning, personal care and managing their finances. 

Building capacity and experiencing success while the person is still in the home not only builds confidence within the person themselves but also builds the family members’ confidence that, once their loved one moves out, it will be a positive and enriching experience. 

Optimal use of the available resources

As you support the person on their journey to independent living, it is important to assess which resources are available to them and how to use these resources as effectively as possible. Resource examples include:

  • What are the person’s strengths? For example, if someone is quite adept at using technology, how do they use this skill to live more independently?
  • What assistance with regards to independent living is available to the person? Do they have access to Individual Living Options (ILO) or Supported Independent Living (SIL)?
  • Does the person have access to a network of healthcare professionals and service providers who can support them on their journey?
  • Does the person have access to assistive technology that can make independent living easier?

Enjoy the ride

Living independently and having autonomy, choice and control is an exciting milestone in any person’s life. It is an opportunity for persons with a disability to thrive on their own terms and conditions, to be exposed to greater opportunities and to live their lives to the fullest.