Graham didn’t hesitate at all when his dad needed help. A lot of help.
He flew to New Zealand in December 2013 after his dad Tony was attacked and left in a coma for 90 days, his wife and two small children still in Sydney. Eventually, he had to quit his job too.
The attack resulted in considerable brain damage. It meant that 62-year-old Tony had to learn to walk and talk again. It added severely to his already diagnosed schizophrenia.
Returning to Sydney, 37-year-old Graham attended to his father’s needs all by himself, a responsibility he would bear for years to come. He moved his wife Kenny, daughter Olivia (nine) and son Joshua (seven) into his dad’s home because his dad couldn’t be left alone. He needed help with personal hygiene, basic day-to-day needs and making decisions.
“For two to three years he was just sitting at home. His entire life was: get up, eat, watch TV.”
Graham grew concerned about his dad’s quality of life. “I didn’t really know what to do with him other than look after him and I think his quality of life was diminishing because before [the attack] he was very active. He liked to do renovations, he liked to go out, and after the attack he just stayed at home.”
It took him nearly three years to convince Tony to attend a games day at the Ryde Mental Health Centre.
“He went and started once a week to play some games with everyone at the centre. From there we learnt about the NDIS.”
Referred to Primary & Community Care Services (PCCS), they met social worker Jingyi who helped them apply for NDIS funding.
“Jingyi helped us get everything coordinated because I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t even know what the NDIS was. At the beginning I just heard that I could get some assistance to help me. I take him to therapists and doctors and they say that it [the caring role] is quite tough on me and I say, ‘Yes, it is and it’s difficult for us to go out as a family. If the kids want to go somewhere in the school holidays we can’t unless we take my dad.'”
Tony’s NDIS plan has had an enormous benefit for the entire family. He’s now enjoying more quality time in the community and Graham has respite and time to spend with his kids. Jingyi also helped the family find the right service providers.
“We have a support worker who visits my Dad three days a week. There’s another two days where they take him to the art group at PCCS and to the coffee group. Now he’s much more active.
“I can actually concentrate on the kids’ stuff rather than just sitting there looking out for him 24/7.
“I’m quite happy with the NDIS. I can see the benefit it brings. I’m curious what the process is for review and what information they need so that we can continue to get this because it’s quite good.”
If you need help or advice to access the NDIS, go to the PCCS website or contact us on 02 9477 8700. Register for the free expo to find out more about the latest products, services, technology, aids and equipment.
PHOTO: PCCS social worker, Jingyi, helped the family navigate the NDIS and secure a package that has decreased stress on the family.