In 1991, while on holiday in New Zealand, Paul was involved in a serious car accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury and left him unable to walk or talk. He was only 22.
Paul spent several weeks in Dunedin Hospital before being transferred to Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital and eventually beginning his rehabilitation at Royal Rehab in November, three months after his accident.
After 11 months as an in-patient in Royal Rehab, Paul was discharged, but the impact of the accident was so severe that Paul required 24-hour care, so for the next ten years Paul lived with his parents, Kev and Lyn, in their family home where he was able to continue his rehabilitation and gradually regain his independence.
For a while Paul was able to participate in minor part-time work, but his needs became far greater than his family or friends could adequately cater for, and the difficult decision was made to transfer Paul to an aged care facility in Newcastle at the age of just 33. Although the centre was able to provide the care and support Paul required, he was separated from his family and friends, and removed from any opportunities for social and recreational experiences.
In 2006 Paul was registered with the Young People In Residential Aged Care (YPIRAC) initiative, a program launched jointly by the Federal and State Governments to promote appropriate supported environments for young people with disability living in aged care facilities. Through this scheme, Paul and his family were connected to Royal Rehab’s new on-site supported accommodation, Weemala.
Living in Weemala has not only provided Paul with the care and support he needs, but has also brought him closer to home and exposed him to an array of recreation and leisure activities through Royal Rehab’s recreation therapy and Return2Sport program.
Since moving to Weemala in February 2012 Paul has maintained a busy and active schedule, including the unique opportunities to enjoy meaningful and enriching activities with the wider community, like cycling and being able to experience summer at the beach again through the Return2Sport Beach Access Program, reconnecting him to a social and inclusive life.
“Paul considers he is now ‘home’,” say Kev. “From Paul’s point of view, ‘all’s good’.”