At the young age of 52, Bev Warn became a paraplegic and found herself living in an aged care home, a place she didn’t fit into on so many levels. A six-year fight to live independently in her own home followed.
With the help of a Support Coordinator from LiveBetter, Bev’s now living the life she wanted in her own flat.
Bev had had a thriving career as a special education teacher at school and university levels. She never minded a challenge – as a single mum raising two children, she studied for her degree and then worked full time. But it was a simple misstep at her back door in August 2013 that changed her life forever.
“I fell down some stairs in my backyard and got a spinal injury,”
“Whilst in rehab I was told I wasn’t allowed to be discharged back home so was sent to my only option at the time – an aged care facility in the central west of NSW. Combined with the lack of notice, this came as a major shock to me and I remember crying as I was wheeled out to the ambulance,” said Bev.
She had to sell her house and give away all her furniture to her daughter. The aged care facility needed a hefty deposit, too. Somehow through all this Bev actually continued her work as a distance educator at Charles Sturt University. After some time, she had to give it up though aged care facility routines aren’t really compatible with residents who work, and you just have to fit in with them.
Recalls Bev, she was in a four-bed ward for the first three years. The average age of the other patients was about 80 to 100 and here she was in her early to mid-50s.
“My mental health was significantly impacted for those first three years. I think it was the lack of warning of where I would be discharged to. I was led to believe I would remain in rehab for longer as I was told there was still room for improvement. Living in an aged care facility hadn’t even entered my mind, so it was a real shock,” she said.
When the shock settled it never really does though she hatched a slow-burn plan to get out. Her escape strategy pivoted on applying for a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan.
“When the NDIS rolled out in the Central West in July 2017, I didn’t really understand it much, but I still applied.”
Eventually, an NDIS planner came out to see her in person and talked with her about her goals and plans. “It did take a while for the planner to get back to me because as I was in a nursing home I needed a specialist planner.”
Contacting LiveBetter’s Support Coordination Team in October 2018, with her NDIS plan in hand, Bev looked to LiveBetter to help her apply for eligibility to live independently.
LiveBetter Support Coordinator, Kristen Holgate, was assigned Bev’s case.
Thanks to Kristen’s persistent advocacy, Bev received Specialist Disability Accommodation funding approval. Kristen continued to work with Bev to find out which services and supports Bev wanted.
Kristen says: “I helped Bev find providers to follow up on her own decisions around who she wants to support her. That’s different for each participant. My job was to keep all the different pieces of the puzzle together including the huge pool of providers all working together to achieve a good outcome for Bev.”
Bev finally moved into her new unit at the end of 2019. Kristen says: “I popped in to see Bev in her new home a couple of days after she moved in. And it was a different kind of visit. Bev was excited to show me her home, where she had put everything, how she’d set it up. For the first time, the two of us weren’t working through a list of things Bev needed or a ‘to do’ list; it was just Bev showing off her new house to me.
“I am so happy she is somewhere that is meeting her needs and is now in a place of her choice.”
And as for Bev, she’s looking forward to having her grandchildren stay with her. That couldn’t have happened when she was in a nursing home.
Kristen says, “NDIS processes can be daunting. We recommend people have a think about including support coordination in their NDIS plan so you have someone to listen to your wishes, then find and negotiate with providers to allow you to make informed choices. That means you’re in control of the supports you need and want. We can also help you prepare for your next NDIS plan review and really work alongside you to build your skills.”