• People's stories Interviews with people getting attendant care, family members, workers . . .
  • Alana Alana had a serious car accident aged 14. She has a brain injury.
  • Rob Rob had a stroke. He was in a nursing home and now lives at home.
  • David David had a car accident when 20. He has a brain injury. He has returned to work and to driving.
  • Karel Karel had a bicycle accident. He has a fractured spine. He lives with his wife. They are in their 80s.
  • Emma Emma was hit by a car. She has a brain injury and needs 24 hour care.
  • Christakis Christakis' head went back in a car accident and he broke his neck. He lives with his wife.
  • Attendant Care Provider Brain Injury Service Coordination Managers and Community Support Workers.
  • Attendant Care Provider Spinal Injury Service Supervisors and Attendant Care Workers.
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David, his family and workers

David

When David was 20, he had a near fatal car accident on the way to work. It left him with a serious brain injury. He was in a coma for about 3 weeks. He then had months of difficult rehabilitation in hospital. He learned how to sit up, slowly he leaned how to walk again. His speech was very bad, was very difficult to understand him. He improved. He did all kinds of therapy at the Rehab Centre and eventually he went home. He has continued rehabilitation at home for a further 3 years.  He lives with his parents and siblings. David’s rehabilitation goals were to be able to return to work and to return to driving. He successfully achieved both of them.

  • David
  • Diane, David’s mother
  • Sonia, David’s Community Support worker

Picture:
David

We try to maintain a relationship with them in a professional way. All the carers that we have are very nice people and, you know, you enjoy their company, but they are there for a purpose. We are always friendly, I ask how they are going, what they are doing, but we try not to get too far into the personal side of things. They are there to provide a support for David, not as David’s friend or as my friend. It’s better to try to keep it on a professional level.

I think the carers are incredibly respectful of my space. When they are here working with David they have an allocated area where they do their work. If they are doing focus tasks, or occupational therapy, or speech therapy they generally try to do it somewhere where there is not a lot of interruption for them, so that they can focus on what they are doing, but also to minimise the, I guess, the intrusion to the rest of the family. So, they seem to be very respectful of that, and I’m very appreciative of that.

     

  Diane, David’s mother

 

 

 

     David's Story (11.5 mins)

     

Click on image to go to video

Full text of the video David's Story

ON SCREEN: David’s Story. A few years ago, when David was 20, he had a near fatal accident. It left him with a serious brain injury.

DAVID: I had a car accident on the way to work once. And that’s why this whole thing started.

ON SCREEN: DIANE, David’s mother.

DIANE: David had a car accident. He left home at 7.30 in the morning on his way to work.

DAVID: I was driving down the Crosslands road, went around the corner and that’s all I know. Well, what I’ve been told really.

DIANE: And just a little ways down the road he lost control. We don’t know exactly how and we’ll never know because he has no memory of it. But he lost control and went into a telegraph pole.

DAVID: Somehow I managed to hit a telegraph pole. A head on collision straight with the telegraph pole.

DIANE: It crashed the entire left side of his car and the pole went into his head.

DAVID: I was sitting next to the passenger seat which is the current location of the telegraph pole. So, somehow my car was impaled into the pole. It was in the car.

DIANE: It fractured his face and gave him a brain injury. So, he was in a coma for about 3 weeks. When he was coming out of his coma it was very slow, very progressive.

DAVID: Hello, gorgeous.

ON SCREEN: David then faced months of difficult rehabilitation in hospital…

DIANE: Over the weeks and months at Royal Rehab he improved. He learned how to sit up, slowly he leaned how to walk again. His speech was very bad, was very difficult to understand him. And he improved, he just did lots of speech therapy, all kinds of therapy at the Rehab Centre and eventually we got to bring him home. But he was very dependent. At the time we brought him home from Royal Rehab, he was completely dependent, dependent on his family and on attendant carer workers that we had.

DAVID: Good girl.

ON SCREEN: It was a very special day when David finally came home from hospital

DAVID: June 10, 2010. I remember that because that was a date that stayed in my mind. I don’t know how I remember that. I just remember it. The day I came home was June, 10, 2010. And it was a wonderful experience.

Tell me about what you liked about coming home.

DAVID: It’s home. What I like about getting home was the fact that it actually was home. There is nothing better than coming home. Our family, friends, my room. It was my room again, my bedroom upstairs. It was my room again.

ON SCREEN: A major factor allowing David’s return home was having attendant care. Sonia is one of the workers employed by ABI Services to assist him.

SONIA: I started working for ABI services 18 months ago and I’ve been working with David for… What did we work out? About 14 months.

DAVID: Something like that, yeah.

ON SCREEN: SONIA Community Support Worker

SONIA: Before that I was doing secretarial work so I had nothing to do with, I have no experience in this industry. And I met someone that was working with a paraplegic and I just thought it sounded like a rewarding job.

ON SCREEN: Sonia has seen a vast improvement in the time she’s worked with David.

SONIA: It was a lot more challenging than how David is now. He has improved so far now he really doesn’t need much help, do you?

DAVID: Thank you, I appreciate that.

SONIA: But right in the start it was all about keeping David focused on trying to achieve his goals and getting him back to work. When I first started he wasn’t at work. So, I was coming here a couple of days a week and just working on focus tasks and recreational activities…

DAVID: ?

SONIA: …even like playing the piano, playing pool, taking the dog for a walk.

ON SCREEN: Now David has support workers to help him only two days a week. But at first they came 6 days a week, with a different worker each day.

DIANE: Having the carers freed me up a lot to attend to the other children’s needs. Because I still had 3 daughters that still needed, you know, a mum. And I couldn’t be 100% for David, because they needed me as well. So, that was wonderful, because the girls got to see that I got freed up and I would structure it that way, so that I could say to the girls ‘Ok, let’s go do this today’ or ‘Let’s go do that today’. So, it was good, but it was challenging having somebody else in your house all the time. It was challenging.

Did people find that a bit of an invasion of their space?

DIANE: Yes. Yes, I would say that they still feel that that’s an invasion of their space. But I think they’ve learned to manage that. And they can see how much David has progressed because of all of the different support he’s had in so many different ways.

ON SCREEN: One of the things David is working on now is increasing focus on activities.

DAVID: I’m trying to achieve in the focus tasks me keeping my concentration on something for a period of 45 minutes to an hour. And without changing my focus to something that’s not as productive. For example, getting distracted by what’s going on outside the window. It happens quite a lot though.

SONIA: Because like 18 months ago David wouldn’t have focused for 5 minutes on a focus task and it was always like I . . . to be here…

DAVID: My brain always…

SONIA: …and its always our job to try to refocus, stop getting distracted. What are we focused on? That’s the activity he’s meant to be doing. And that could have only lasted 5 minutes 18 months ago.

And now?

SONIA: But now…

DAVID: And gradually we improved.

SONIA: Now easily we can do 45 minutes.

DAVID: We gradually increased the focus task time from 5 minutes to 8 minutes to 10 minutes to 15 minutes, 20, 25, half an hour, 45. And that’s where we are now.

ON SCREEN: Diane has been careful to maintain boundaries with the support workers.

DIANE: We try to maintain a relationship with them in a professional way. All the carers that we have are very nice people and, you know, you enjoy their company, but they are there for a purpose. We are always friendly, I ask how they are going, what they are doing, but we try not to get too far into the personal side of things. They are there to provide a support for David, not as David’s friend or as my friend. It’s better to try to keep it on a professional level.
I think the carers are incredibly respectful of my space. When they are here working with David they have an allocated area where they do their work. So, it’s often in David’s room. If they are doing focus tasks, or occupational therapy, or speech therapy they generally try to do it somewhere where there is not a lot of interruption for them, so that they can focus on what they are doing, but also to minimise the, I guess, the intrusion to the rest of the family. So, they seem to be very respectful of that, and I’m very appreciative of that.

DIANE: Well, you did really well on a treadmill today.

DAVID: Thanks mum. Thanks.

ON SCREEN: David’s family & support workers worked together towards his goals.

SONIA: Thank you.

DIANE: Would you like a cupcake?

SONIA: Thank you very much.

DIANE: David has made a huge progress since he came home from Rehab. He had two major goals in his life when he came back. Those were also goals of us, of his family. He wanted to return to work and he wanted to return to driving. And we believed that both of those things were within his grasp. So, we decided as a team, that we would try to do anything we could for him to achieve those goals. In some way. We didn’t know if he’d be able to go back to his previous employer and as it turned out that didn’t happen. They were not prepared to take David back on. But he had a couple of work trials neither of which culminated in a position, but we learned a lot from it. So, that we were able to implement other strategies to try to get David closer to his goals. In November of last year, 2011, David did a work trial at Woolworths, and Woolworths were wonderful. They employed David on a part time basis with the plan that as David was able to add hours they would be open to do that. And David trialled a couple of different departments at Woolworth and he now has a position in a Deli and he has been working successfully for almost 8 months. So, we are very proud of him about that.

DAVID: I had two main goals at the very beginning. When I was at Rehab I was working on these two main goals. Return to work, return to driving. They were my two main goals and I’ve successfully achieved both of them now.

DIANE: Do you have work tomorrow?

ON SCREEN: Helping clients achieve their goals is very gratifying for Sonia.

DAVID: Um, Friday… Yeah, I’m working tomorrow.

SONIA: I like going home from work feeling like I’ve done something to help somebody that’s less fortunate or had a hard time. Not that you are less fortunate…

DAVID: Yeah, that’s better.

SONIA: But some of my clients have high needs and have had strokes or heart attacks. And I just feel that’s just rewarding to go home after a day’s work and know that I’ve helped someone that needs help or given their family a bit of respite and their family time off, for people that need 24-hour care.

DIANE: Because Thursday has not been successful.

ON SCREEN: And for Diane, David’s accident has been a deep learning experience…

DIANE: So, I’ve learned to be patient. But I’ve also learned to be very resourceful and strategic. Because things that might work for David might work for 3 weeks and then might not work again. So, you have to change how you approach things. But one of the things that I’ve always thought was very important with David is to make sure that his rehabilitation program was challenging to him, was diverse, it was not fun, because I always wanted the job to be better than the rehab. So that he always wanted to go back to work. I didn’t want him to think ‘Well, I’m on holidays! Let’s just go do this, let’s go do that’. That would be an easy way to go, but that wouldn’t be the best thing to do.

ON SCREEN: David wants to be independent & looks forward to no longer needing support.

DAVID: I’m hoping that today is the last day of carers. I’m always hoping that. I’m thinking for some reason that it’ll be maybe a month, two months. The reason I don’t want carers is do you see people around and just people walking through the streets. Yes, ok, he has a carer. He has a carer too. She’s got a carer as well. Yeah, it’s such a normal thing. No, that’s not the case. Normally you don’t walk around with carers following you around. I’m not an old person in the nursing home. They have carers and that’s understandable for some reason. But I don’t really think I need carers.

DAVID: 5 days… Four hours a day. 20 hours a week.

SONIA: So is that your goal?

DAVID: A goal being 40.

SONIA: So, you are half way.

DAVID: Half way.

SONIA: That’s great.

DIANE: He’ll add, he’ll add another day, another hour each day.

DAVID: Yeah, another hour each day making it 5 hours a day 5 days a week. It’s 25 hours, 15 hours short of my goal.

SONIA: As long as we keep managing…

ON SCREEN: Thanks to David, Diane & Sonia for taking part in this video. Interviewer Paul Bullen. Camera & Editing Peter Kirkwood. Produced by Paul Bullen & Peter Kirkwood. www.living-with-attendant-care.info.