Aged 63, Barbara has called the Springfield apartments home for the past eight months. Sharing her personal story, Barbara discusses how SDA changed her life and helped her regain a sense of independence and freedom.
Living with rheumatoid arthritis for the past 25 years, Barbara experienced an unfortunate and life-changing event three years ago when an unsuccessful spinal surgery left her a paraplegic. An incredibly huge shock and displacement to her life, Barbara spent 10 months in the spinal unit before moving in with her sister for 18 months. However, with a combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and the growing care required for Barbara’s needs, she decided to look elsewhere for accommodation and support services.
Initially looking in her local areas of Yeppoon and Rockhampton, Barbara found that the suitable accommodation options were limited and only followed the models of community housing. Extending her surrounding area and search online, Barbara soon came across an MS Queensland Specialist Disability Accommodation listing.
“The first thing that came up on the internet is this unit that I’ve ended up with now – the unit run by MS Queensland. I originally thought ‘oh but I haven’t got MS’ but it doesn’t matter. If your needs are there, and you get the SDA funding approved by NDIS, well then there’s no reason why you can’t have that unit,” Barbara recounts.
Deciding to make the big move to Springfield because her daughter and family resided there, Barbara began the application and SDA process which took approximately four months in total.
“The initial process was quite traumatic for me as I was on a tight time constraint, however, the MS Queensland intake team made a hard process much less stressful and easier. It was the encouragement, suggestions and input from them that was incredibly beneficial to me,” Barbara says. “I finally got a new OT [Occupational Therapist] report done and was able to write a really good submission. I moved in just before Christmas to a wonderful and welcoming place. I found that to me, it was going to be my safe place. I knew I could be much more independent if I had the right accommodation. I was missing doing a lot of things like being able to cook and being able to do my own laundry.”
Living in SDA, Barbara says the independence and freedom of the apartment and the care services available to her also mean she’s been able to enjoy the activities and hobbies she used to. “With the support I’ve got, I’ve been able to sew again. I was sewing couture wedding gowns up until things changed. I was the lady they went to in Yeppoon for all the wedding gowns! It’s about being able to choose my own activities and when I want to do them. And if you ever need any help, you just buzz and they’re here straight away.”
A sister of six, a mother of two, and a grandmother of three, Barbara’s apartment is decorated with images of her family and drawings from her grandchildren. Having guests over and her family come to stay is also incredibly important for Barbara. “I have one granddaughter here and she books in for sleepovers, so that’s how cool it is! My couch folds out and she can stay over.”
When asked about whether her expectations of the apartment were met, Barbara responded that they’d been exceeded, “It’s even better than where I imagined myself living.” Built with assistive technology and accessible amenities, Barbara has also found the space much easier to navigate and live in. “Of course, I knew the bathrooms would be reasonably big but I didn’t know I would have a nice little outdoor area to myself. I also just love the iPad idea – you can turn your lights off and close your blinds when you’re going to bed and in the reverse order when you’re waking up. I used to have to rely on everyone for that.”
The community and neighbourhood are also incredibly important when considering SDA, particularly the links to transport, shops and outdoor spaces. With a motor in the back of her manual chair, Barbara is able to visit the local areas in Springfield, “I can get over to the big shopping centre here within 10 minutes. The paths, which are a credit to the council really, are wide and accessible. They’re beautiful because you go through all the parklands too.”
In the eight months that Barbara has been a resident at Springfield, she has been able to reflect on the journey it took to get here and wants to provide some advice to others who may find themselves considering SDA. “I would say get a good Support Coordinator and write a damn good submission and get a decent OT with your reports ready and everything. The only other words of wisdom I have is be brave, accept life, it is what it is. The way things have gone in the last three years, I’m just as happy as Larry here.”
Live life your way
SDA values the importance of independence and control, and with optional care and support services available, you can have more freedom to live life your way. If you’re interested in our accommodation and want to talk more about how we can help, please call us on 1800 177 591 or emails us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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