Sherryl and Terry Phillips can now enjoy each other’s company in their retirement years, with the freedom of holidaying when they want to and their son Corey realising his dream of independence.
But life hasn’t always been like this for the former Bay of Plenty residents.
Corey has been diagnosed with ADHD, severe epilepsy, Asperger syndrome and other disabilities.
For 25 years, the ability to spend time together didn’t seem possible, until they found ConneXu - an organisation which provides individualised disability support options.
“Because Corey was high needs, he had a one-on-one teacher aid, even at kindy,” says Sherryl.
“We always wondered what we would do when he got older. When he turned 18, he wanted to leave school and be like ‘normal’ kids, so he got some volunteering work – but had to have a support worker at all times.”
Sherryl says Corey dreamed of being independent “like his big sister”.
“We investigated support options to allow Corey to move into a flat with flatmates, but were told that there was no chance.”
Help was hard to come by and limited for the family.
“We were only provided with a small amount of respite care occasionally for things like me to go to the hairdresser. Terry and I weren’t able to go anywhere as just the two of us; we were never able to be alone together.
“When we heard that ConneXu was supporting people with disabilities, we went to meet with them,” says Sherryl.
“They listened to our concerns for Corey’s future, and they facilitated Corey moving in to his own flat.”
This is a win-win outcome, says Terry.
“We were in a lifestyle that we didn’t choose, but we were committed to. Now we live our lives the way we want to, with the freedom to travel and enjoy each other’s company.
“When Corey went to ConneXu, he got his dream too.
“The benefits of Corey being with ConneXu extends past his residential situation – he gets opportunities that he would never have had with just us,” says Terry.
“ConneXu has just been unbelievable,” says Sherryl. “They’ve just been so on top of it all from the beginning, when we’d lost hope of ever getting the support Corey needed.”
ConneXu is expanding in the Bay. For more information visit: www.connexu.nz