Stephen McCormick spends his days on a beautiful property in Rathdowney, part of Queensland’s Southern Scenic Rim.
However, Stephen has found it difficult to leave his home and enjoy the peaceful acreage and its stunning surrounds.
“I have been a C4-5 quadriplegic for 20 years following a traffic accident,” he said.
“Until last week, I was limited to being in the house or on the back deck in my manual wheelchair.”
“That was my entire world. Now, my world has just completely opened up.”
With a new Off-Road electric wheelchair funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Stephen is now able to enjoy his property and everything it has to offer.
“It is fantastic to get out and feed the horses. I have put new fruit trees in up the back, with passion fruit, tomatoes, and corn. Now we are trying to get grapes to grow. I can go down to the creek and have a sit down with the dogs. I get out of the house, instead of just sitting on the back deck wishing I could do it, now I really can.”
Stephen says his mental health has seen marked improvements as a result.
“Without the outdoor chair, some days I wouldn’t leave my bed. It was just as comfortable to lay in bed and watch TV as it was to get up and sit in my chair in the lounge room all day. There was nothing to get up for.”
“Before I had the NDIS, Vicky (my ex-wife) was doing all my care which was a real struggle for her because she has bad knees and stuff like that.”
“Now with the NDIS I have carers that come in of a morning and do my showering and toileting. They get me out of bed, drop me to work, and bring me home again.”
“Life is just so much better with the NDIS. It is an absolute godsend, fair dinkum.”
Stephen is supported on his NDIS journey by a Local Area Coordinator at Carers Queensland, NDIS Partner in the Community Program for the Ipswich region and is making great progress.
Support from the NDIS has also made it possible for Stephen to visit his ageing parents in Melbourne.
“Now I can go down to Melbourne and visit my parents, and the NDIS will pay for the support workers to look after me down there.”
“Mum’s getting older now with emphysema and can’t look after me when I’m there. If it wasn’t for the NDIS it wouldn’t even be an option to be able to go down and see my parents as they get older.”
Stephen’s work life has also improved, with the arrival of a Smart Drive Wheelchair Power Assist device for his manual wheelchair.
Working part time in the paint department at Rathdowney Mitre Ten, Stephen is now better able to assist customers and manoeuvre easily around the store.
“Before when a customer would ask where an item was, at the rate that I was travelling the poor customer was walking at half pace to keep up with me.”
“Now with the Smart Drive I can go at their speed and show people where things are in the store and help people out.”
“I really enjoy my job so much more and feel really good about myself because I can be independent.”
Stephen has also returned to the gym, and recently, made his first appearance surfing with the Disabled Surfers Association at Currumbin Alley on the Gold Coast.
“That’s the first time I had been in the ocean in more than 19 years. With my spinal cord injury I was worried about the temperature of the water but all was okay. Support workers took me down,
I got on a board and I had a ball.”
“With the NDIS it’s a totally different life. This really is living life.”
Carers Queensland can support you to find out more about the NDIS, to apply for funding and to help you get started with the NDIS.
If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland staff can also help you identify and link to options for support in your local community.
To find out more about how the NDIS and Local Area Coordination program can work for you, visit Carers Queensland NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program for the Ipswich region, at Level 3, 28-30 Thorn Street, Ipswich 4305, or call 3454 0500.
You can also contact Carers Queensland on 1300 999 636, or email@example.com