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Colourful Life Choices

Whether it’s tie-dyeing, listening to live music, keeping fit through boxing or having fun with Karaoke, Unisson Disability’s supported independent living (SIL) client Col has chosen an activity-packed life, with creativity, fitness and music forming part of her current interests.

Col was living in an aged care facility 10 years ago. In the years since Col moved into a two-bedroom unit in one of Unisson’s cluster housing developments, her independence and quality of life has evolved. Col participates in all aspects of her daily living including grocery shopping and she likes to cook her own meals. She has a busy social life and her support workers do everything to find the “yes”, to ensure that Col is supported to make her own decisions about how she spends her time.

Learning to Master the Art of Tie-Dyeing

Col discovered a love for tie-dying after purchasing her first fabric colouring kit a few months ago. Since then, she has enthusiastically tie-dyed a whole range of items including socks, shirts, long pants, a washer, a neck cushion, and even her bed sheets.

Col, who shares a SIL home on the Central Coast with several housemates, has enjoyed learning to tie-dye with the assistance of Unisson’s support worker Emily. On their recent shopping trip to source suitable tie-dyeing items, Col bought herself a white shirt, along with some white socks and a pair of long white pants, while Emily bought a matching white shirt so that she and Col could share creative the process, and its rewards, more fully.

To get started, Col selected some patterns for the clothes, and with everything set up at her home one day, she and Emily began the tie-dyeing process by folding the clothes and tying sections of the fabric with elastic bands. Next, empty bottles were filled with water and coloured powder, and Col shook them until the powder dissolved. Wearing protective equipment, Col was then supported to pour her favourite-coloured dyes over the clothes. At the end of the day, Col and Emily were thrilled to have matching shirts to wear. Col is really thrilled with the tie-dyed items she has produced so far and has really enjoyed the shared creative experience with Emily.

Unisson’s support workers are actively engaged with the concept of person-centred support, finding ways for people with disability to achieve their goals and learn new skills, while living creative and fulfilling lives. Emily says, “I thoroughly enjoyed my time supporting Col to do something she loves, and we have already bought more items to tie-dye together in the future.” 

Choosing an active life.

Col enjoys a good game of darts. As a keen and highly competitive dart player, she has honed her dart throwing skills to the point where, according to Emily, she wins most of the games. She regularly challenges her support workers and friends, but despite their best efforts, they rarely succeed. Emily says, “When using her non-dominant hand, Col can still win games and has picked up many tips and tricks by watching professional dart players on TV.”

In much the same way, Col enjoys a game of dominoes. She plays a daily game with her support workers and rarely misses the opportunity to have some fun.

Music is another passion for Col. Before the COVID lockdowns, Col regularly attended Friday night Karaoke sessions. When this wasn’t possible for long periods of time, support workers set up Karaoke sessions every Friday in her shared living home, so she wouldn’t miss out. Col also loves to attend the local hotel to watch rock’n’roll tribute bands.

Keeping Fit

Col enjoys boxing as a way to stay fit and active. She has a list of exercises which she practices most days, demonstrating real dedication and quite a degree of skill and, according to Emily, “She has an intense left hook!”.

A keen sports fan, Col is a proud West Tigers rugby league supporter. She regularly attends club games and never misses a game on TV. Her bedroom has been painted in West Tigers colours, and is decorated in a very personal way, which reflects her many interests.

Whether it’s tie-dyeing, playing darts, watching the footy, listening to music or boxing, Col has built an active life, and thoroughly enjoys engaging in these shared activities. Transitioning out of a nursing home and into supported independent living a decade ago, has meant Col now has a sense of self-determination, or choice and control over how and where she spends her time.

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