Until the NDIS, Peter was not eligible to receive support and experienced many unhappy years living in institutional accommodation. But when given the opportunity, and with support from Unisson, this friendly, humble man has regained his independence, confidence and love of life.
As a young man, Macedonian-born Peter Nancovski enjoyed boxing and playing football, and worked in a coffee distribution factory, working his way up to become manager. In his twenties, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and, as adequate support to meet his needs was not available in the community, he eventually entered institutional accommodation, where he lived for more than 20 years.
At the time, supported accommodation was only available to people with an intellectual disability and Peter’s only option was institutionally run, supported boarding houses. This accommodation provided little privacy, with shared bedrooms, no choice of what and when to eat, and strict routines marked by the ringing of a bell.
There was no opportunity to go out in the community and the 60 residents would spend their days sleeping, eating and smoking. Peter likens it to “gaol”.
Peter found the behaviour of some of the people he shared with to be disturbing and the attitudes of some of the staff to be demoralising. And whilst the medication he received managed his schizophrenia, the experience of this lifestyle for such a long period of time had limited his independence and self-confidence. When the NDIS scheme provided Peter with more options, he chose to move into one of Unisson’s shared living homes in 2018.
Peter now has his own, large, private bedroom and, with assistance from Unisson’s independent living support, has regained his self-confidence to live an independent life.
He now does his own shopping, chooses what he wants to eat and cooks it himself. He has opened his own bank account and pays his own bills. And he decides how he spends his time, going to the gym and doing the things he enjoys. Once settled into his new home, Peter was keen to return to work, so when a local employment agency he had contacted advised him of a position at a new café, he jumped at the opportunity. He was initially concerned that his age may have stood in the path of securing the role but was delighted when he was offered the job.
Peter now works part-time as a café assistant, is loving his new job and notes the irony of the coffee connection – working with coffee as a young man and now again at the café. He is also enjoying the increased consumer freedom that comes with earning a wage. Tayla-Jae Hedge, Unisson Team Leader, has seen the positive impact of Peter’s new living arrangements.
“Peter has flourished into an independent man who shows no boundaries as to what he can achieve now that he has the right supports in place,” she says. And when asked how he feels about the change in his living arrangements, Peter says, “I feel great. I feel much better than I have in all my life.”
"I feel great. I feel better than I have in all my life."