Case Study: Living Independently With A Disability Through An Accident
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
This week's blog follows a theme of the past month - how people with a disability can live what Canadian disability advocate Al Etmanski calls "a good life", by:
"living comfortably in a place of their choosing".
I related the story of Jo, a 36 year-old Brisbane woman with Down syndrome, who lives in her own home with her husband, Justin, also with Down syndrome.
This was followed by the story of 54 year-old Tom who, despite suffering a rare degenerative brain disease, remains in his own home.
Today we share Will's* story.
Will's story: loss of independence through an accident
A keen sportsman and family man, Will's life changed in a second when in July 2010 a skiing accident caused brain injury which then triggered a stroke.
The once healthy 52 year-old suffered left sided paraplegia with reduced mobility and leg sensation and issues with swallowing and speech. He has also come to experience epilepsy and seizures, arthritis, depression and general weight loss.
It has been a tough decade for Will and his wife, Angela*, and two now adult children. He tackled the years with courage, accepting his high level of dependency on personal care, attending gym sessions to build muscle strength, and joining a stroke group.
The personal care of 35 hours per week and physiotherapy has been provided in the family home by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for many years.
Deterioration of condition
When COVID-19 arrived, the restrictions saw the end of Will's gym and stroke group support sessions. Towards the end of the year, his condition deteriorated to a point that he could no longer get out of bed unassisted and became immobile.
In January 2021 he was admitted to hospital and, after extensive tests, the doctors diagnosed his deterioration as natural decline.
Help required for higher level of dependency
The new higher level of dependency prompted Angela to contact DR Care Solutions to help Will live comfortably in a place of his choosing.
From hospital, Will was moved to respite care in an aged care facility. He hated the experience for various reasons, in particular the disturbances brought on by residents with dementia.
While Will and Angela's initial instruction to DR Care Solutions was to locate a minimum of four aged care facilities and/or group homes across specific Sydney suburbs close to family members and suitable for Will's level of care and social and activity interests, the respite experience left an indelible negative impression.
Will is now back in the family home with a new team of in-home carers, with all parties settling into a new routine.
The level of in-home care required is challenging, but we are getting there and Will is much happier. The care team provides full assistance with his personal care and hygiene, and help with virtually all activities of daily living. A hoist over the bed is in place to get Will into and out of bed and for all other transfers. He uses a wheelchair for mobility.
Continuing to respect the client's wishes
We are in our early days and I have been standing by Will and Angela's side to make sure we have the right carers on board. I remain in daily contact to make sure the chosen carers are a good fit for Will personally and practically. The search for a suitable group home and disability housing remains - it just has to be the right fit for Will.
* Names have been changed to protect the identity and privacy of subjects.
If you need support for a loved one whose disability is deteriorating, please reach out to me, Danielle Robertson at DR Care Solutions, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance for your loved one, at the right time and in the right place.