Top 5 tips on how to live at home independently when you have a vision impairment

Top 5 tips on how to live at home independently when you have a vision impairment

Cheryl from Vision Australia guest presenting recently at Sapphire Support HQ.

The Sapphire Family recently welcomed Vision Australia to guest present on how to best support an individual with a vision impairment. Cheryl gave attendees lots of helpful tips and showed everyone the incredible resources and assistive technology that is now available to purchase online.

Vision Australia have put together some simple tips on how to live at home independently which are outlined below. It is important to remember that everyone has unique needs so different strategies work for different people, but some of the areas that might make your home more comfortable for you may include:

Lighting – bigger, bolder, brighter

Good lighting needs to be bright enough to allow you to perform required tasks; provide even light across the area to prevent shadows; and be free from direct or indirect glare. Make the most of your vision with the principles; bigger, bolder, brighter.

Bigger, bolder, brighter magnification tool – making reading small labels on food items (or menus) easier to see.
Organise your home

It is important to be organised and able to identify objects, so you can find things when you need them. Grouping items with clips or rubber bands putting frequently used items in highly accessible areas; and having labelling systems are all important ways to aid a functional home. Vision Australia stocks re-usable labels that can be brailed or written on in black marker.

Remove risks

There are many factors that can place you at risk of a fall. Some of these include your health, vision loss, medication you are taking and your level of physical fitness. Slips, trips and falls can happen to anyone in the home, workplace and in the community. Other common risks include pouring hot liquids, and use of electrical appliances. If you require advice or assistance, use the contact page on the Vision Australia website as they may be able to do an environmental assessment of your home or workplace.

Take advantage of technology

A range of scanning technology is now available to enable people who are blind or have low vision to easily identify items and products around the home. There are also devices that help to identify more specific aspects of items in our environment. Some of the new technologies include audio labellers, talking barcode scanners, colour detectors and audible light sensors for people with diabetes. There are many newer technologies continually arriving on the shelves at Vision Australia, that offer far greater possibilities that improve independence.

Stay in touch with friends and family

Using your home phone, recording phone numbers and using your smart phone, such as an iPhone, to talk with friends and family can be simplified using our strategies. Vision Australia’s adaptive technology team run courses on using smart phones and their online shop has a great range such as big button phones, training sessions and more.

If you would like to talk to Vision Australia about some of the solutions they can assist you with, call them on 1300 84 74 66 or email

To ensure you don’t miss out on helpful information like this moving forward, be sure to LIKE Sapphire Supports Facebook Page to keep up to date with future monthly events and guest speakers in the NDIS or Disability Industry. We also offer the opportunity to link in via ZOOM for these events, so it doesn’t matter where you are situated – you can still be part of it!

Innovative, evidence-based literacy program: Changing the lives of adults with Intellectual Disabilities

Innovative, evidence-based literacy program: Changing the lives of adults with Intellectual Disabilities

Latch-On (Literacy and Technology Hands-On) is a literacy program for young adults with intellectual disabilities developed by the University of Queensland and is backed by over 20 years of research.

The program provides opportunities for students to increase their literacy skills in a post-secondary school environment using technology to enhance literacy, self-confidence, independence and work placement opportunities. It also combines traditional literacy and numeracy teaching styles with technology instruction, also including health and fitness education and uses scaffolding activities (activities become more challenging throughout the program).

The LatchOn program has gained so much popularity, it is now launching on the Sunshine Coast.

So, who can participate?

Adults with an intellectual disability who have goals of employment, further education or general independence. Participants should have the ability to sustain concentration and independence required to complete tasks in a classroom environment, the ability to independently care for self and personal hygiene and the ability to access and function within the wider community.

Where and when is the program run?

At Sapphire Support HQ.

The cost is invoiced monthly as a Program of Supports. This cost includes a ratio of 1:3 support, non-face to face time and is subject to change in accordance with the NDIS Price Guide.

How do I register for the next intake?

Simply scan the QR code above to get started or, email Teagan:

Life after ABI (Acquired Brain Injury): Accommodation Considerations & Where to go for Additional Support

Life after ABI (Acquired Brain Injury): Accommodation Considerations & Where to go for Additional Support

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) often leads to many changes for the individual, their family and friends. Many people who have experienced ABI report feeling as though they have become a different person since their injury, and this difference can be magnified by the reflected perceptions of the people around them.

Physical, cognitive, behavioural and / or emotional changes can also lead to changes in identity, roles, relationships, the ability to manage personal and household tasks, and in community access and participation. Managing these changes is not an easy process. It takes time, support from others and can mean learning new ways of doing many everyday activities, or even accepting assistance with a task that may have previously been completed independently.

Recovery from ABI may be thought of as a journey towards a new self, a shift in personal identity which may involve:

Planning ahead

Exploring accommodation and support options is recommended once rehabilitation begins. Appropriate options are often scarce so it pays to look ahead and plan early. Points to consider include:

  • The level and type of support needed
  • The funding available to the person, including NDIS and Centrelink
  • The family’s social support network
  • Services available in the area
  • Local amenities in the area (e.g. parks, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, shopping centres, chemists).
Supported Accommodation (Specialist Disability Accommodation)

Supported accommodation is a residence in the community where support workers provide the required amount of support and supervision.

As an NDIS participant, you may be eligible for SDA if you are over 18 years old, have a functional impairment or high support needs, require a home with accessibility modifications and have a reasonable and necessary need to access SDA.

At Sapphire Support, we work closely with you, with our support worker team, to identify your specific care requirements and help you access the services and support you need. We also have a newly built specialist disability accommodation home in Nambour that is tailored to the needs of participants with high and complex care requirements.

Available – June 2022

To enquire about availability and to put forward an expression of interest at our SDA home, please contact Wes (

Understanding ABI, the effects and what extra support is available

If you would like the opportunity to learn more about ABI, please come along to our next event on May 18th from 10-11am at Sapphire Support (1/42 Owen Creek Road, Forest Glen).

The Sapphire Family welcome Synapse (Australia’s Brain Injury Organisation) who will be delivering lots of value add content around understanding ABI (a general overview), common causes and effects and how to best support someone who has a brain injury through their service offerings.

The session will run for 20 minutes followed by Q&A opportunities at the end. Tea and coffee will be provided.

This is a free event – and open to support co-ordinators, allied health professionals, support workers, families and individuals.

Due to limited seating, please register your interest by clicking here to reserve your spot.

We look forward to seeing you there for a fun, informative and collaborative morning!

**If you are not able to make it in person, please register your interest to attend via Zoom:

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Social Skills & Autism

Social Skills & Autism

Many individuals on the Autism Spectrum need help in learning how to act in different types of social situations. They often have the desire to interact with others, but may not know how to engage friends or may be overwhelmed by the idea of new experiences.

Building up social skills with practice can help enhance participation in the community and support outcomes like happiness and friendships.

What are Social Skills?

Social skills are the rules, customs and abilities that guide our interactions with other people and the world around us. In general, people tend to “pick up” social skills in the same way they learn language skills: naturally and easily. Over time they build a social “map” of how to act in situations and with others.

For people with autism it can be harder to learn and build up these skills, forcing them to guess what the social “map” should look like.

Social skills development for people with autism involves:

  • Direct or explicit instruction and “teachable moments” with practice in realistic settings
  • Focus on timing and attention
  • Support for enhancing communication and sensory integration
  • Learning behaviours that predict important social outcomes like friendship and happiness
  • A way to build up cognitive and language skills

Where can you put social skills into practice?

To kick start teachable moments and safe environments to practice social skills, there are many fantastic organisations that help bridge this gap, three in particular:

Autism Queensland have an excellent resource on their website to help families connect to social groups all over Queensland.

Check it out, here:

Autism Treehouse offer a range of helpful services for all ages. Specifically, ‘Sunshine Coast ASD Support Groups’ for children, parents of teenagers & adolescents and adults living with Autism.

To find out more, click here:

Social Studio – QLD provide a variety of activities and social catch-ups on a regular basis. Check out their ‘Social Sessions’ & ‘Social Adventures’ on their website, here:

By engaging in support groups and social activities (through the above organisations for example), confidence will grow and with confidence comes a solid sense of connection, and with connection comes happiness!

The team at Sapphire Support regularly assist individuals on the Autism Spectrum with social skills in community participation. Contact Wes, our New Client Officer, to see how we can assist, here.

Happy Connecting!

World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day

The 15th annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2022.

Joined by the international community, hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities around the world come together on April 2, Autism Awareness Day, to #LightItUpBlue in recognition of people with Autism and those who love and support them.

The HQ Sapphire Family showed our support today (a day early!) by wearing blue attire to the office to participate in the global campaign. Some of our HQ team have had experience supporting individuals with Autism (in a support worker role previously), and others have lived experience helping a loved one at home with Autism. One of the great things about our Sapphire Family is, we don’t just work in the disability industry, our team bring compassion, understanding and familiarity from our households to our roles of support.

We are also fortunate to have wonderful support worker staff who go above and beyond daily to meet the needs and wants of all our participants. The Sapphire Family are proactive around staff training, and we continue to provide opportunities regularly for everyone to learn, up-skill and embrace personal development. For the month of April, all of our training opportunities are Autism related, mainly around effective communication and de-escalation techniques.

We consider ourselves very fortunate to care for many NDIS Participants who have Autism in our SIL homes as well as our Community Participation programs and it is wonderful to see their progress and meeting their NDIS goals as time progresses.

Over the next 4 weeks, we will be sharing lots of helpful resources on our Facebook page around Autism support, events and even free training links that are of huge benefit to support workers, support co-ordinators, allied health and of course families too. Be sure to Like our page to stay up to date with the latest information.

Together we can all make a difference, and it all starts with awareness (and wearing blue!) on April 2!

“Lots of Socks” – Celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness

“Lots of Socks” – Celebrating Down Syndrome Awareness

The Sapphire Family recently participated in the Down Syndrome Australia initiative, “Lots of Socks”.

The Sapphire Family proudly wearing the colourful designs born from Mark & Josie’s creativity!

The aim of the “Lots of Socks” campaign is to raise awareness of Down Syndrome among the community, as well as raise funds for Down Syndrome Australia. The idea behind this initiative is acceptance of all our differences, and what makes us unique as an individual.

Socks come in all shapes, sizes, and designs, just like each of us. This year’s design was selected through a national competition held by Down Syndrome Australia.

The winning artists for the sock designs came from Mark Polonsky (VIC) and Josie McAndrew (NSW). Mark’s inspiration came from an Australian theme – due to his love for animals and Josie’s, a tribute to Australian music legend, Keith Urban.

Mark and his awesome design!
Josie and her awesome design!

To help show your support, why not order your own pair – or enough for the whole family this coming winter! These are more than just socks – they represent inclusion, acceptance and diversity within our community and are a great way for everyone to show support for Down Syndrome.

Keen to start your online shopping? Purchasing your socks is super easy and can be done via your mobile phone – simply click here to check your sizes and place your order.

From the Sapphire Family (and Down Syndrome Australia), thank you for your support!

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