Jock Watson is one of 7,500 young Australians with a disability who has been stuck in a nursing home. A nursing home was the only place Jock could go to receive full-time care. Living with the elderly who were closer to the end of their lives than the beginning, Jock missed out on interacting with other young people. This changed recently when he moved to Sylvanvale’s Caringbah accommodation facility for people with a disability.
The home is not a perfect fit for his Acquired Brain Injury, as it is not specific for those progressing with rehabilitation but caters for a range of disabilities. With the National Disability Insurance Scheme confirmed, the question remains: Will there be a capital strategy to build more disability specific homes?
Disability Minister, Andrew Constance, said: “A lot of the design work is still being undertaken. David Bowen from transitional agencies is still working through that capital strategy so I don’t have all the answers in that regard, but there is no reason given the enormous demand across our community that we will not see the advent of more facilities like these [disability accommodation models].”
Jock’s family has spent 10 years since his car accident in 2003 trying to find accommodation as well as rehabilitation services. “We have been left on our own – assistance from the government has been minimal. We have had to become experts in the field as there was just no system in place,” Jock’s mother said.
“The most frustrating part of the problem is that apparently there is funding and support available but to find it is extraordinarily difficult. When moving from aged care to a private facility, I was advised by Jock’s case manager within the department of funding the government had made available to help get him out of aged care. So I pursued two different packages to find that they were totally wrong for Jock’s particular needs. It’s emotionally exhausting.”
To help families with this process of getting a loved one into accommodation, Minister Constance said that the government is introducing local area Ability Links Co-ordinators to help families with the transition process.
The Caringbah facility is a group home that caters for 20 young people. More are urgently needed for those still stuck in nursing homes. “Not only are more homes needed but there need to be different models catering for the range of disabilities in our society,” Mr Constance said.
Jock’s family hopes the Minister can act on his word promptly, taking advice from advocacy disability groups such as Young Care, the Young People in Nursing Homes Alliance as well as health experts.