Samuel Meninga is 29 years old and he loves bowling. In particular, he loves getting strikes and scoring over 100 points in his game. And he’s pretty good at it.
Sam has a big year ahead of him – he has just been given his National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan and according to his Mum, Jenny, it is going to change his life.
“He’s been talking a lot over the last year about being independent. It’s a word that is used a lot in his day services and by people that support him. But getting him on the path to be fully independent hasn’t really been possible because we haven’t had the time and money,” Jenny said.
“So that is what he is really excited about and he aligns the NDIS with being able to be independent.”
For Sam, who has cerebral palsy and autism, having some time away from his parents and doing things with friends is a big part of his plans for this year.
“Sam has never had respite because there was never enough funding. He has friends who have been accessing respite for years. Now that opportunities have opened up with the NDIS, he seems to be excited and nervous all at once.”
“We will need to look at the details because he’s got such complex disability and medical needs. Having this funding gives us the opportunity to shop around and make sure we get providers that are a good fit.”
“Once he’s able to get out and be supported without Mum and Dad it’s going to positively impact his mental health.”
Through the NDIS, Sam will be able to get things he hasn’t been able to access since he was 18 years old, such as an occupational therapy assessment in the home.
“We will be able to engage an Occupational Therapist to give us strategies to improve Sam’s daily living. We will also be able to hopefully use those strategies with his day workers,” Jenny explained.
“Sam is on a lot of medication and he has put on weight. So with the funding we can engage a support worker with the right skillset who can take Sam to the gym and guide him through a program, someone who can help him get fit and healthy in really positive and meaningful ways.”
It’s not just Sam’s life that will see a profound change this year.
“Sam’s health meant I was receiving up to 28 calls a day. As a school teacher I just couldn’t do it anymore,” Jenny explained. “This year I’m excited that I can get back to work one day a week because I missed it a lot.”
Jenny feels great satisfaction that the work she put in getting ready for the NDIS has paid off.
“There was a lot of detail and I wanted to give a really good picture of what Sam’s life was like. I collected all the practitioner reports I might need and I’m really glad I did that,” she said.
“It’s been overwhelming since the plan’s been approved. I’ve got a huge amount to learn. I feel like there’s a huge amount I need to research and get my head around so I can make sure Sam is getting what he needs.”
“Geoff and I are incredibly grateful. Society’s most vulnerable people are getting what they need.”
Jim Toohey, Chair of the Board of Carers Queensland, understands how Jenny is feeling now that Sam’s plan is approved.
“We know that accessing the NDIS can bring big changes in the world of people with disability and their families and as the Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community, we are there to help them understand their options and work through that change,” Mr Toohey said.
Jocelyn Wills, General Manager of Carers Queensland NDIS Local Area Coordination, Partner in the Community program said, “we run ‘Bringing your plan to life’ workshops that will help people understand their plan, the terminology it uses, and how to get the most out of it. ”
“It’s also an opportunity to check out the NDIS price guide and the online portal, to ask questions, and to meet other people using the NDIS.”
“And for those people who haven’t yet accessed the NDIS, they can come along to one of our NDIS Information and Access sessions and speak with our Local Area Coordinators about their situation. We are here to help.”
Carers Queensland’s Local Area Coordination, Partner in the Community Program on the Sunshine Coast is holding NDIS workshops and information sessions each week.