When your alarm went off this morning, 7000 of your fellow Australians, aged 18 to 65, and with high care needs, were waking up in a residential aged care facility.
A further 700,000 were waking at home with their loved ones, but with limited support both practically and financially. One organisation, formed in West End 10 years ago, is changing all that by providing young people with the independence, choice and dignity they need to live their lives to the full.
Shevaune Conry was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998. By the age of 33, she had reached a stage where her husband David was no longer able to look after her. Shevaune moved out of their home and into aged care; simply because there were no other options. Along with mates Matt Lawson, Nick Bonifant and Simon Lockyer, David set about correcting the massive gap in care provision and the injustice of the situation. Youngcare was born. After Shevaune’s story was aired on 60 Minutes, Youngcare received more than 600 emails. The issue had struck a cord.
On 8 December 2007, the doors opened to the Youngcare Wesley Mission Brisbane Apartments at Sinnamon Park and a revolution truly took hold. Shevaune became one of the first residents and she lived there until her death in 2012, aged just 40. Today, the Youngcare Apartments at Sinnamon Park and Coomera are providing a superior quality of life, expert care and first-class facilities. Over the next two years, Youngcare is fundraising to build more apartments with plans for a project at Albany Creek and in the Sydney suburb of Auburn, along with innovative Share House accommodation at Woolloowin in Brisbane opening mid-2015 to provide more desperately needed accommodation options for young people with high care needs.
Todd Winther, who wrote and featured in Youngcare’s latest TV commercial, has cerebral palsy. He struggled for 10 years to find independence but now sums up Youngcare’s philosophy. “Living in a Youngcare apartment is like winning the lottery, because I get everything that I need,” he said. “My parents love the fact that they know I’m secure, but I also have autonomy which is what I really crave.”
In addition to accommodation solutions, Youngcare works to provide grants designed to assist with the financial and emotional pressures on families, or help them transition back into their homes. Support phone line ‘Youngcare Connect’ helps families find their way through the maze of disability and healthcare system information. But there is still so much work to be done. Youngcare is not government funded and it’s only through the combined support of the community that Youngcare’s work is made possible.
Right now Youngcare is calling for support, and there are many ways to help, including challenges and events. At the end of 2015, Youngcare’s dedicated fundraisers will be cycling through Cambodia, taking on Tasmania’s stunning Overland Track and tackling another Budgie Bolt, just to name a few — all in support of young people already living in or facing the prospect of going into aged care.
Words by Colin Bushell | Images Supplied by Youngcare