News • 25 Sep 2019

Walking and talking thanks to the NDIS

Robert, 46 from New Farm, QLD, is now able to speak and walk with confidence as a result of NDIS funding and the commitment of his Open Minds Support Workers. Living in Open Minds Supported Independent Living has enabled Rob the independence he needs to lead a fulfilling life.

When Rob first came to Open Minds in 2007, he accessed Supported Independent Living in a shared home in New Farm, where he still lives today.

He was a wheelchair user and his speech was very limited, due to acquiring a brain injury from a car accident when he was just 22 years of age.

Robert was self-funding his support with the accident insurance payout he received, and Open Minds worked with Rob to get him access to a physiotherapist to improve his mobility.

It didn’t take long for Rob to gain enough strength and mobility to switch his wheelchair for a walker, providing greater independence in his life.

However, Rob’s self-funded money supplies were starting to dwindle, and so Open Minds supported Rob to access a disability support pension, followed by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Iain, Open Minds Support Worker, has worked alongside Rob for around 10 years now supporting him to achieve his goals

Iain said: “Rob’s made good progress over the years, but we could see that the limited physio sessions he was funded for just weren’t enough to make a big impact on his life.

“The team worked hard to ensure Rob had a good opportunity for a successful pre-planning session with an NDIS planner and helped to communicate his needs, advocating for him and explaining the difference that extra funding could have on his life.”

Rob, Iain, and his other Support Workers were delighted when he was approved with more funding than he’s ever had before.

Iain said: “The funding package he has now is simply life-changing for Rob. He can now eat out from time to time and buy the food he wants, not just what he can afford on the small budget he had before. He can now fund additional support and assistive technology that benefits his health.”

Rob’s support hours have increased, and the funding has enabled him to purchase an electric adjustable bed, relieving pressure on his back and legs, and allowing him to get in and out of bed with ease.

The funding has also enabled him to have fortnightly physiotherapy to work on his balance and mobility.

Some of these session are in the format of hydrotherapy in a swimming pool, which adds gentle resistance to build his strength and range of movement.

As a result of the accident, Rob has a leg length discrepancy, which adds to difficulties walking. 

His funding has enabled him to see a podiatrist who has recommended specially designed shoes to address this discrepancy.

Finally, Rob’s brain injury left him with dysarthria: a condition causing slow and slurred speech, making his every day communication challenging.

Rob can now access a weekly speech therapist who has begun working closely with him to improve his speech.

Rob said: “I have noticed a big difference recently with how well I can talk. I hope people can understand me better now.”

Iain has been supporting Rob to understand how technology may improve his ability to communicate and connect with others.  

Iain said: “I suggested to Rob that a tablet would be a great way to start using email and doing some basic tasks on.”

Rob has really taken to his new tablet and Iain has worked with him to setup his first ever email account, helping him to stay in more regular contact with his Support Coordinator.

Iain said: “He’s also been able to use the tablet when we’re out grocery shopping, he’ll announce he wants to cook a Chilli Con Carne and get out his iPad to look up the ingredients right there and then!

“He is fiercely independent and I’m just over the moon that he’s now able to increase this level of independence more than ever before.

“His dream is to become mobile enough to walk by himself without his walker, and we are committed to doing everything we can to help him achieve this goal.”

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