Imagine being involved in a serious accident on the other side of the world and waking up in a hospital in a country far from your home and family. This happened to 26 year old Kate while she was on holidays. Not only did an accident change her life, but the lives of all around her.

 

Kate sustained a spinal cord injury as a pillion passenger in a motorbike accident while on holidays in London in 2004. She was on an afternoon motorbike ride with friends before leaving London to meet up with her fiancé John, who was working in Europe. Kate was riding with a good friend who lost control of the bike when the rear tyre blew out. Her friend did not survive. Kate sustained multiple injuries; the most serious was a spinal cord injury.

 

Kate’s parents, who were back in Australia, received that call every parent dreads, advising them of the accident. They made quick travel arrangements to travel to their daughter as soon as possible – not knowing what awaited them, not knowing if Kate would survive her injuries.

 

Kate’s parents and fiancé John arrived within 36 hours of the accident to the news that Kate’s spinal cord injury had resulted in paraplegia. Amidst the shock, there was also some exciting news. Kate was in her first trimester of her pregnancy and it seemed that despite the trauma that her body had been through, the baby was not harmed. A ray of hope shone through the upheaval.

 

After returning to Australia, Kate underwent as much rehabilitation as her pregnancy would permit. She began coming to terms with life as someone with paraplegia as well as the prospect of being a mum in a wheelchair.

 

Five months after the accident, Kate gave birth to a baby boy – Liam. When Liam was born, he had bilateral talipes (clubfeet), and within the first week, he was diagnosed with Arthrogryposis – a joint contracture condition. Both mum and baby left hospital to live with Kate’s parents who had made modifications to their home to make the transition easier for Kate and baby.

 

When Liam was four months old, Kate noticed that he was having trouble feeding and after medical tests it was discovered that Liam also had cerebral palsy. Liam’s disabilities meant that he would have communication difficulties, would not be able to stand or walk and would require full assistance with feeding, bathing and personal care. Kate’s family provided the physical support necessary as they all tried to come to terms with Kate and Liam’s disability.

 

Kate and her fiancé separated 12 months after Liam’s birth. Two years later Kate decided to move out of her family home, so she could try and be more independent. After searching unsuccessfully for accessible, suitable accommodation Kate contacted ParaQuad NSW for assistance with finding somewhere to live.

 

ParaQuad assisted Kate and Liam to find a place of their own to rent in Berala, Sydney – a transitional accommodation facility. The three bedroom unit had been modified for wheelchair access and suited Kate and Liam’s physical needs. Also transitional accommodation gave Kate a sense of independence and confidence to be a mum on her own. Kate relied on carers to assist with Liam’s care and she visited her parents often.

 

After living in transitional accommodation for 2 years, Kate needed to find more permanent accommodation. ParaQuad assisted Kate in her move into Community Housing, where she is now living with Liam. The officer helped with her housing application and liaised with the community housing provider, looked at housing offers and their proximity to family, friends and medical support.

 

Due to Liam’s health care needs, as well as her own, Kate has had to seek the advice of ParaQuad’s clinical nurse consultants for help with wound care and continence issues. Having access to specialist information and advice, free of charge, has provided further support needed for Kate and Liam to live independently. “I couldn’t have done it on my own,” Kate said.

ParaQuad NSW’s mission is to support people with a spinal cord injury to achieve their choices in life. ParaQuad’s values include integrity, reliability, accountability and leadership.

 

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ParaQuad NSW provides services to support life choices and independence for people with a spinal cord injury, their families and carers. Services include: specialised clinical services; supported accommodation; community support; health and wellbeing (including occupational therapy, social work and clinical/spinal services); information; training and education; home based attendant care and the provision of specialist healthcare products. ParaQuad NSW reaches a membership of over 1700 people through its services across NSW and the ACT.

 

Organisation Details
Sector:
Address: 
6 Holker St Newington NSW 2127
Contact details: 

+61 2 8741 5627

paraquad@paraquad.org.au

 

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