Just a few years ago, Tammy had reached the point of considering moving into supported accommodation due to the impact of her disability.
The long-term Forbes resident was increasingly isolated and incapacitated by Devic’s disease, caused by the inflammation and de-myelination of the optic nerve. This leads to progressive weakening of the legs and hands, and vision impairment.
“It came on about 10 years ago when I was in my mid-30s,” Tammy says. “I thought it was just a pinched nerve, until one day I collapsed on my front steps and wound up in hospital.
“I was fortunate enough to be seen by a neurologist who had experience of the condition – too often it gets misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis.”
After that Tammy’s condition continued to worsen to the point that she had to stop teaching music and also cease working as an office manager for a friend’s business. With no family support and no means of supporting herself, five years ago Tammy reluctantly signed up for the Disability Support Pension.
“Luckily I have a lot of support from my Uniting Church congregation which helped me through the worst times,” she says.
Choice of supports
A couple of years ago Tammy heard about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and decided to apply, and was accepted straight away. Her First Plan was agency-managed but, with increasing self confidence, Tammy has now appointed a Plan Manager for her Second Plan which widens her choice of supports.
“My Local Area Coordinator, Belinda Separovic (from NDIS Partner Social Futures), has been great with referrals and emotional support,” Tammy says. “There have been rough patches where I’ve had to contact her a lot, and she always tries to find the answer for me.
“With my First Plan I was able to access occupational therapy and physiotherapy. The OT helped me get my first-ever electric wheelchair, which I really needed, and the physio designed a proper exercise regime for me. They’re heaps better than the online exercises I’d been trying to follow!
“My Second Plan now includes 20 hours of funded support every week and I’ve been able to employ four support workers with the help of my Plan Manager. They provide personal care, clean my house, maintain my garden and will soon be able to take me out for community activities.”
Back in the groove
Tammy can still drive but recently purchased a wheelchair-accessible van, which means her support workers can take her out to do the shopping or go on social outings.
“My vision is good enough to drive but mostly I just don’t have the confidence anymore,” she says.
Now that she has enough support to stay in her home, she’s hoping to get back to work.
“I teach piano, guitar and drums, but realistically I don’t have the energy to get back to what I used to do. However, now that I have support it would be nice to teach at least a few clients.
“With help from my physio, I’m also hoping to regain at least some mobility. But mostly, I’m just very happy feeling safe and secure in my own home.”
“Mostly, I’m just very happy feeling safe and secure in my own home.” (Tammy)
Tammy’s NDIS supports have helped her:
- Buy her first electric wheelchair
- Develop a personal exercise program
- Stay in her own home
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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