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Flying home for Christmas

At Unisson, we request and respect the choices of the people we support and their families. This often inspires us to strive to find creative solutions to enable the people we support to experience choice and control over how they live their lives. We call this ‘Finding the YES!’ - it’s a part of the person-centred, active support approach that’s taught to our employees and that we endeavour to embed into our company culture. So, when Clive’s family reached out to us for assistance to support him to travel to Perth for Christmas, we were determined to make it happen for him.

Clive lives in Sydney where he has close friendships with housemates and enjoys participating in his community. He also enjoys regular contact with his family who live interstate. When his mother died, Clive’s interstate family became his next of kin. They keep in touch by phone, letters, postcards and family photos but gain the most pleasure from the times when they can meet in person, in particular when Clive visits his sister Jane’s home in Perth.

“Clive has a room set up at my home,” says Jane “It has his personal effects which he enjoys seeing as this makes his room a homely environment hence he feels part of the family. With Clive coming to Perth he can experience family life."

"Clive is a great-uncle of three boys (and can't forget the dog) and we’ve managed to organise for him to visit for important occasions like the birth of his great-nephews and birthday parties and, in the past, he’s also come over for Australia Day and Easter, but it’s becoming harder to find someone to escort him for Christmas,” says Jane.

Clive requires support to make the journey to Perth and, over the years, as family members have grown older and passed away, the pool of suitable travelling companions has dwindled, and a poor experience as an unaccompanied passenger has further reduced options for Clive. This resulted in Clive not making it to Perth for Christmas last year and, at times, other Christmases in past years. This year, Jane was keen for Clive to make the trip, prompting her to reach out to his Team Leader Rebecca.

Rebecca sent an email to all Unisson Team Leaders explaining Clive’s wishes and asking if they could speak to their Direct Support Professionals to help Clive ‘Find the YES!’ She was surprised by the response.

“It was amazing,” said Rebecca “I had so many responses, and within 48 hours we’d found a person to support Clive and Jane had booked the tickets!"

"We were looking for a person who also has family in Perth as Clive only needs travel support, but we even had responses from people who were prepared to travel with Clive and wait in Perth for a few days over Christmas and then travel back with him.”

The person who will be supporting Clive is Direct Support Professional Sharon, who lives and works in the Hunter region and has family in Perth. Sharon has been unable to visit her family for Christmas for several years due to the time and financial commitments associated with her training for selection for the equestrian team at the forthcoming Paralympic Games in Tokyo next year.

“The timing was perfect for both of us,” said Sharon. “I haven’t been home for three Christmases, so this opportunity is quite special for me too. I spoke to Clive’s sister Jane to understand Clive’s needs and the things he likes and to share information about myself and then we booked the tickets! I think it’s wonderful that Unisson has been able to organise this for Clive and provide him with the opportunity to spend Christmas with his family – I think that’s really important.”

Clive and Sharon have been communicating via Facetime and have already made a good connection and Clive has been marking off his count-down calendar every day. He is most looking forward to seeing his sister and grand-nephews and also the family dogs and birds and going to the beach.

At Unisson, we have over 700 employees who are committed to helping you to ‘Find the YES!’ and we hope you feel inspired by our Christmas story to reach out to us, like Clive’s sister Jane.

Happy Holidays and safe travels this Christmas!