Independence just one benefit of group home

By Roger Moroney

For any family, having a teenager move out of the house at just 18 can create some uncertainty and concern.

More so if he's one of twins.

A tough occasion for any family but especially tough for Hawke's Bay's Tony and Pam McCann as they were faced with moving their son Bradley into a residential home.

No ordinary residential home though. He was bound for his own room, as a flatter at Realpeople@rowan in Taradale.

Bradley has cerebral palsy, and is wheelchair-bound.

For the McCanns it was challenging, as while Bradley had been on the waiting list for a place at Realpeople@Rowan, they had not expected that place to become available so soon.

"We knew that placements at Realpeople@rowan were sought after," they said.

A year ago they were told there was a place for Bradley.

"He had been placed on the waiting list for some time and we believed we would get used to the idea and perhaps he would go there when he was 25 not 18."

While Bradley tries to be as independent as his twin brother Matthew, the family asked themselves the hard questions. Would they look after him well enough? Could they be assured the staff had what it took to cater for their son? Would they understand what he was saying? Would they manage his seizures?

"Would he manage without us, would he miss us? What about his brother? They had never been apart except for the odd school trip," they said.

The McCanns had always been a close family and had not envisaged their boys leaving home quite so soon.

"With tears and fears we agreed it was best for Bradley to go flatting at Realpeople@rowan. Initially it was hard for all of us but a year on we know it was the best thing we could have done."

He has grown into a fine young man who has good, close friends and is able to carry on his education at Kowhai@Flaxmere College.

He pops home most weekends and the family has noticed he had become even more independent and had joined in a string of activities. But most importantly, he is happy.

He has his own room with all his special photos and helps around the flat.

Along with his best mate Henry Nancarrow, he is the youngest of the flatters there.

"Relinquishing the day-to-day care of your beloved children with complex needs is hard. Trusting the Realpeople@rowan community to care for our boy as we did was a tough call. Anxieties aside, we can now enjoy seeing our young man continue to grow and develop. He has a huge personality and he fills the spaces with laughter and love. We are pleased to have made the transition to independence sooner rather than later for Bradley."

Bradley and his fellow flatters will be in action this Saturday as Realpeople stages a Paralympics Pentathlon at the Pettigrew Green Arena. The Paralympic sport of Boccia will be one of the features, with five teams playing five sports ... all in wheelchairs. All are welcome at this free event to check out the athletes from Rowan, Mosaic and The Beacon. Among the special guests set to turn out are members of the Magpies rugby team. It gets under way at noon, with the closing ceremony at 1.15pm. Open days are also being held on Saturday at The Beacon in Ormond Rd (9.30am to 10.30am), and Mosaic and Rowan in Gloucester St (from 2pm to 3pm).

The fundraising campaign which has been running for the past seven weeks will be used by Presbyterian Support East Coast for all the Realpeople services as well as helping fund the realpeople@rowan cottage development.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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