News • 17 Oct 2019

Bill praises “lifesaving” supports

Bill, 48 from Ipswich, had a great job as a groundsman before he found himself homeless, without a job, and living in the bush. Open Minds assisted Bill to access a range of supports, like housing and applying for the NDIS, to enable him to get back on his feet.

“I don’t remember how I came to connect with Open Minds, but you saved my life, you really did.  If I did not have your help, to get [NDIS] funding or to get me into my home, I would not be here today.”

It is often we hear people say ‘you saved my life’.

For Bill, he saved himself, he just needed some help from dedicated Open Minds workers to access services that are available to him, and advocate for him.

Bill has been supported by Open Minds since June 2018.

Bill was a hard working, respected and loyal groundsman of a local school. 

He lived with mental illness for most of his life, however found the work was what kept him going.

Bills mental health deteriorated and he was homeless for the following 12 months, spending a great deal of time sleeping on the beach and bush.

He occasionally stayed at hostels, however would become highly anxious and feared for his safety in such places.

Bill is a peaceful man, so being faced with regular altercations of other residents under the influence of substances was far too confronting. Bill felt that he was better off sleeping rough.

During a hospital admission, Bill was connected with Open Minds to help him get back on track.

Sadly, not long after helping Bill out, he was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (MND) a debilitating neurological disease. MND has no cure and no treatment.

Open Minds worked with Bill to access support from a Disability Services Pension.

Bill said that this extra financial support helped make his life much easier, by being able to pay rent and buy food more regularly.

With significant need for support while Bill’s health deteriorated, Open Minds supported Bill through a very lengthy process of applying for NDIS funding and this persistence has presented Bill with a significant package.

Bill’s NDIS funding package

This funding will provide substantially increased support and appropriate housing.

The Open Minds team built a strong rapport with Bill and supported him to meet new people and access his community.

Bill said: “the support he received from everyone at Open Minds meant the world, as I have no one else in my life to help me.

“They got me a place to live in Bribie Island and helped me to apply for extra financial support. It meant I was able to pay rent, buy food regularly and get equipment to suit my needs.”

With the help of Open Minds, Bill was supported to start living a full life again. To come from homelessness, with no support, no stability and unsettled living arrangements, behind in rent and experiencing deep depression on a daily basis.

Bill was very emotional about his situation when Open Minds started working with him, as he was feeling helpless.

Today looks very different for Bill. One of the support workers assisting Bill, Rose Cresswell, said Bill is so much happier and more hopeful, even with a terminal diagnosis.

The future for Bill

Rose said: “Bill is such a wonderful man, he just gets on with it each day, even when life is really challenging.

“Like the Energiser bunny, he keeps on going, trying to do the things that he knows will improve his situation.”

Rose said it was ‘an honour and a privilege’ to help Bill get back on track.

“I think the NDIS support he is able to receive will make a world of difference to him,” she said.

“In Bill’s plan he has support coordination with a specific Neurological Support Coordinator and Open Minds will provide home help, social supports and help with every day activities.

“Bill will also be linked in with the appropriate therapeutic services, and this includes regular physio and occupational therapies,” Rose said.

A real outdoorsman, Bill is looking forward to spending more time outside with the right supports, which he said will prevent him from getting hurt, given he is now less stable on his feet.

“I’m hoping my support coordinator can help me get a mobility scooter so I can get outdoors more,” he said. “I love being outside, breathing in the fresh air and spending time at the beach.”

On reflection, Bill said he wishes he had of taken more notice of his MND symptoms as they initially started to affect him, and if he did, says his situation may have been quite different.

“Back then I did notice my fitness deteriorating,” he said. “I used to be full on. I never stopped moving. I was go, go, go, all the time, running all around the ground and up and down stairs but then in my last year of work, I noticed I was getting slower.

“When I got to the top of the stairs, I was that tired I had to use the railing to pull myself up and the inside of my thumbs were numb. I thought it was weird but I didn’t think much of it. I just continued on,” Bill said.

“Then I started to have more accidents because my limbs were getting wobbly. I was becoming more unstable. Then I started to notice other things, like my memory wasn’t as good and the numbness had spread up my arms. I couldn’t walk as far and my breathing was getting tighter.

“After about a year and a half, I really started to notice the changes in my body, and then I came into contact with Open Minds.”

When Bill’s NDIS plan roles out in the near future and services are engaged, support will grow exponentially, this will mean that Bill will have the highest amount of assistance that he has ever had.  

Bill’s NDIS package will ensure that he will never be socially isolated or unsupported ever again.

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