Hearth Trust Home – Lower Hutt
Timothy, Andrew and Corey live at their Hearth Trust home set in Lower Hutt’s western hills where they are supported by staff and volunteers.
This has been their home for the last few years.
In 2015 Tim’s family founded the Trust and bought the home where he lives with two others and support workers.
The extended home and two hectare property is off a rustic rural road surrounded by rolling hills of trees and green space.
At weekends the men go home to visit or stay with their parents nearby in the Hutt Valley.
During Lockdown Andrew lived with his parents for the first three weeks, while Timothy and Corey stayed at the house full time as part of a wider bubble of 15 people including staff and volunteers. The bubble grew to 16 with Andrew’s return.
Life was different. The men could no longer go to Thumbs Up, the day programme they usually attend a few days a week. However, they enjoyed joining a variety of Zoom sessions provided by Thumbs Up, and so were able to keep in touch with their friends.
The men enjoyed a slower pace of life. They slept in until 9am, enjoying not having the usual morning rush of most days where they must be ready to go to their activities by 8.30am. In the sprawling property they found plenty of things to do to pass the time and try new things.
They each had a new daily timetable headlined with Fun, Helpful and Healthy Activities and chose what they wanted to do.
It meant more one-on-one time with support workers, more walks in the native bush on the property, riding bikes or scooting by the Hutt River, numerous Zoom meetings with family and friends, tending to the many and ongoing tasks a rural property presents, gardening, helping with dinner more often and baking.
It was Storytime on Tuesday nights, watching Mr Bean on Wednesdays, Music night on Thursdays and Dance Night on Fridays. There were also spontaneous dance sessions in the back yard with full on raving action!
Once it was safe to mingle in the wider bubble they even had an Alice in Wonderland dress up party, where Timothy was a fabulous Mad Hatter and Corey a wonderful White Rabbit.
Feeding everyone was a mission. Andrew usually helps with a weekly shop but couldn’t during Lockdown. One person did a fortnightly five to six-hour shop for the entire bubble. Flour wasn’t always plentiful for the baking but they never ran out of toilet paper.
They all missed their families too. Lockdown was the first time the men have lived away from their parents for an extended period of time.
“It was an opportunity to strengthen their sense of belonging here. It was a nice Hearth Trust family feeling for them,” says support worker Hadleigh.
Support workers say the men seemed to enjoy a more relaxed pace of life, taking leadership in decision making about their day, were warm and engaging with others and content to go with the flow and try new experiences during the Lockdown and in the weeks following it. – 17 September 2020
- This article appeared in Life in a Pandemic, a book about disabled and autistic people in Covid-19 Lockdown, 2020. © Life Unlimited Charitable Trust.