Jacqui and her father Don (pictured here with LAC Cindy at left) have overcome the sorts of odds that would have defeated most people many times over – and still come up smiling.
The story begins in 1980 when, as a 15 year old, Jacqui was a passenger in a car that collided with a parked truck. Jacqui suffered severe head injuries and after three years in hospital, she emerged with brain damage and the loss of sight in one eye.
“Jacqui had to learn how to speak again and to this day has poor balance, no sense of smell and limited taste,” Don says. “Her right arm is useless and her right leg is very slow.”
Dreams put to one side
Jacqui’s dreams of becoming a hairdresser had to be put aside and instead she found work at a Sydney-based disability enterprise.
Her mother developed Parkinson’s Disease just a few years later and Don took on the role of carer for both of them until his wife’s death 12 years ago. The family moved to the Gold Coast in 1987 and they have lived there ever since.
“Apart from Jacqui’s placement at a local disability enterprise we received no other support to help with her care,” Don says.
“However, one thing the NSW Government did do was let us know that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was coming, so we got an application in early and Jacqui got accepted.”
Jacqui’s pre-planning was done with the assistance of Tweed-based Social Futures Local Area Coordinator (LAC) Cindy, and Jacqui received her First Plan in July 2017.
“Jacqui’s initial plan didn’t have much extra funding for respite care but there was enough in there that at last we could see light at the end of the tunnel,” Don says. “I was 82 at that stage and for the first time I had the sense that there would be ongoing support for Jacqui after I’m gone.”
From bad to worse
In October 2017, Don had a crash and wrote his car off. Then in January 2018 Jacqui had two falls that saw her taken to hospital for a check-up. When Don came to collect her from hospital, she fell again – and this time broke her ankle badly. Since then Jacqui has needed a wheelchair to get around.
The final blow came in June 2018, when a faulty home air conditioner caught fire and the family house burnt down. Jacqui and Don escaped with just the clothes they were wearing and both wound up in hospital.
“The house was insured but we basically lost everything,” Don says. “We’ve been living in temporary accommodation ever since.”
New plan, fresh hope
Luckily Cindy had put in place a review of Jacqui’s plan after her January falls, and the revised plan now provides funding for in-home care seven days a week as well as funding for cleaning and out-of-home activities. Her plan has also funded a new foldable wheelchair, a walking stick and daily adaptive equipment.
“Australian Unity provides the support workers and they’ll be able to keep supporting us when we move back to Sydney to be close to my other daughters, while our house is rebuilt,” Don says.
“Thanks also to the fabulous staff at Social Futures’ Tweed office, who rallied around and bought us a hamper after the fire. It was a wonderful gesture and helped keep our spirits up through a really tough time.”
“Thanks to the fabulous staff at Social Futures’ Tweed office, who rallied around and bought us a hamper after the fire. It was a wonderful gesture and helped keep our spirits up through a really tough time.” (Don)
Jacqui’s NDIS supports have helped her:
- With personal care, seven days a week
- Domestic assistance
- Gain more independence outside the home
- Recover from her recent falls
Social Futures is a National Disability Insurance Scheme Partner in the Community.
Our Local Area Coordination services connect participants to the NDIS in regional New South Wales.
To contact your nearest LAC call 1800 522 679
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