Rudy and Judith knew early on that something was different about their twins Steven and Kerry.
When they first took them to the doctor at 12 months of age, they still hadn’t shown any sign of trying to walk or stand up.
“I knew something was wrong,” says Judith.
Steven and Kerry had cerebral palsy: a permanent movement disorder that robs sufferers of the ability to live a normal life. It often requires constant, sometimes lifelong care — usually delivered by loving family members at considerable personal sacrifice.
“Steven and Kerry’s parents have done everything for them for 60 odd years and asked for nothing – asked for no help whatsoever,” says Angela, a direct care worker for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.
As the years went on, Rudy had to retire early because it was getting too difficult for Judith to take care of Steven and Kerry on her own.
“I was 80 and Rudy was 83 – we knew we had to do something,” says Judith.
The idea of being separated from the pair was heartwrenching.
The first time Judith took the twins to respite she admits she “cried her eyes out – it was hard to let go”.
But they knew they had to prepare for the future. It was most important that the twins could be looked after in comfortable accommodation built by someone they could rely on.
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More than anything Rudy and Judith wanted the twins to be kept together when they could no longer look after them, Angela says.
Angela, who has been a carer for Steven and Kerry for about 15 years, put the family in touch with Hume Community Housing.
Hume is a Tier 1 Community Housing Provider (CHP) which develops affordable housing for vulnerable or low-income Australians with help from investors in Pendal’s Sustainable Australian Fixed Interest Fund.
Hume is well-known for its expertise in developing and managing Specialist Disability Accommodation that caters for extreme functional impairment or very high-support needs.
Hume’s funding comes partly from the federal government’s National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), which raises money by issuing social bonds to investors such as Pendal.
NHFIC lends out the money raised (more than $2 billion so far) to CHPs at lower interest rates and on better terms than banks — while providing attractive returns to investors.
“NHFIC is very important for financing, because it’s possibly as low a cost for borrowing you could ever achieve,” says Wendy Hayhurst, chief executive of the Community Housing Industry Association.
“And it’s performed very well because it’s got a government guarantee.”
With help from Angela the twins moved into a Specialist Disability Accommodation property purpose-designed by Hume to meet their high-support needs.
The Cerebral Palsy Alliance worked closely with Hume to ensure the fit-out was purpose-built for the twins’ evolving needs and staffed with familiar faces.
After walking through the Hume property in south-west Sydney – perfectly designed for wheelchair use and built to platinum-level Livable Housing Design Guidelines – Judith felt comfortable with the decision.
But it was still hard to let them go.
“I knew it would be hard to let go of my children,” says Judith. “I thought they’d be lost without me. I was certainly lost without them.”
“[But] I couldn’t be happier. It was perfect for the twins. It kept them together.”
Rudy and Judith could live peacefully knowing the twins were well looked after in “such a lovely place” close to their own home.
After decades of sacrifice, they have also been finally able to do something they have never done before – enjoy a holiday on their own – something Judith admits “they never would have considered if the twins were still at home”.
Pendal thanks Hume Community Housing for their co-operation in producing this article. Hume is a Community Housing Provider with more than 30 years experience in providing homes and services to more than 9000 customers in NSW. For more information go to www.humehousing.com.au
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Pendal Sustainable Australian Fixed Interest Fund is a defensive Australian bond fund that delivers market-leading performance with positive environmental and social outcomes.
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