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Supporting choice after change

James, or Jim as he likes to be known, was 46 when a stroke changed his life overnight. Like many young Australian stroke survivors, after hospital, Jim was admitted to an aged-care facility and, while the nursing care he received met his physical needs, he found support for his emotional and rehabilitation needs to be limited.

Before his stroke, Jim's lifestyle included working as a brewery technician, playing and watching NRL, family, mates and lots of laughter. In contrast, as the youngest patient "by a long way," says Jim, life at the aged-care facility was lonely, boring and sometimes confronting. And as the stroke had affected his speech, advocating for himself and talking to family and friends by phone was difficult, adding to his frustration and isolation.

After hospital, Jim was admitted to an aged-care facility which he found to be lonely, boring and sometimes confronting, with limited support for his emotional and rehabilitation needs.

Jim wanted to explore rehabilitation options, particularly “walking and speaking” to regain his independence, with the exception of some assistance he received from the Men of League Foundation, says that living at the aged-care facility, indefinitely and without the opportunity to progress this goal, was taking a toll on his mental well-being.

In 2012, in a precursor to the NDIS action plan to transition young people out of aged care, Jim moved into one of Unisson's Shared Living accommodation properties, and he hasn't looked back!

In 2012, in a precursor to the NDIS action plan to transition young people out of aged care, Jim moved into one of Unisson's Shared Living accommodation properties, and he hasn't looked back!

Unisson’s commitment to a person-centred, active support approach has given Jim back his independence. Jim’s support has changed from actions performed to and for him to providing respectful assistance at his request or by prior agreement. It also includes assistive technology to reduce his reliance on support staff.

To support his rehabilitation goals, Jim has been attending speech and physiotherapy sessions and has shown great progress - his speech has improved and he has regained the ability to walk increasing distances.

He also participates in many of the activities he enjoyed before his stroke, such as catching up with family and friends and watching his son’s AFL matches, as well as day-to-day activities like shopping, cooking – often on the BBQ – and doing the laundry.

Jim’s home is a social environment, consisting of an accessible communal BBQ, laundry and garden area adjoining private units – and he is no longer the youngest resident!

And as Unisson’s approach is to match clients with support staff who have similar interests, there’s now plenty of banter and laughter when Jim and his support staff, Ian and Dave, are together.

The NDIS action plan to transition young people out of aged care is putting supports in place to give others like Jim the choice to move and Jim recommends taking the opportunity.

Jim is determined to continue his rehabilitation work to reach his future goal to "get rid of the chair", tour Australia in a camper van with his brother and move into a place of his own. 

"I'm going to get rid of the chair & tour Australia in a camper with my brother"