JOe's Story

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After my accident, my only option seemed to be living in a nursing home… until I met Paul and Angie Simmons.

It’s been a long road getting to this point, but I finally feel at home. I’m back to doing what I love: listening to podcasts, reading, cartooning, painting and, of course, spending time with my family and friends. 

Before the accident, I designed buildings and managed several teams of architects and engineers. I loved my work and the sense of purpose and accomplishment it gave me. The accident took all that away. What’s worse, I was told by a hospital social worker that despite being in a wheelchair and unable to walk, I needed “more than just my legs” paralyzed to qualify for Specialist Disability Accommodation. 

I first learned of Ability SDA when I was living in hospital waiting to be discharged. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough – it was a nightmare for me. I was stuck in bed most of the time with minimal access to the outside world. My life was reduced to little more than three blue hospital curtain walls; this made recovery from my accident a lot more difficult than it needed to be.

The hospital staff had recommended I move into my father’s place, which was neither accessible nor viable. My only other option was an aged care facility, but that didn’t feel like a fit, either, given how young I was. Anytime I thought about my family having to come visit me in a facility like that I became pretty emotional. 

While I was waiting in limbo, a colleague of my dad’s told him about Ability SDA’s accessible apartments. From that point on, dad selflessly committed himself to making that dream a reality for me. He organized a tour of one of the buildings and we immediately knew it was a fit. Seeing the apartment was nothing short of amazing; I hadn’t anticipated ever being accommodated in such a beautiful and modern space that was perfect for my needs.  

At that point, dad and I knew very little about the SDA application process or how to secure NDIS funding. I have to credit my wonderful dad for his determination and perseverance, completing paperwork and making things happen. I know it was a stressful process for him, but I’m so grateful he stuck with it because I am proud to now call this apartment my home. 

Given my profession, I’m totally in love with how the space is built. The attention to detail inspires me; I find joy in it every single day. 

  • I love that because the balcony doesn’t have a hob, I can easily go out there to take in the fresh air.
  • The floor-to-ceiling windows make the whole place bright and cheery.
  • I can brush my teeth over the bathroom sink, something I didn’t think would be possible but that makes me feel like I’m gaining back my humanity.
  • I love the flooring – it makes manoeuvring my wheelchair a breeze. 
  • The gap between the kitchen cabinets and the floor is big enough that my feet aren’t constantly hitting the cupboards. This might sound like a minor detail, but it makes a huge difference in how I navigate the space. 
  • The corridors are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair turning circle.
  • The assistive technology is incredible – I can’t say enough good things about it! I can now easily turn the lights on and off and open and close the blinds and doors.

Now that I’m here, I feel a renewed sense of autonomy and purpose. The world is not often built with consideration for people in wheelchairs. When I’m out, my independence is inevitably restricted, but I take comfort in knowing that at home I can be my independent self again. I’m also excited to be returning to work; my employer has asked me back and is allowing me to work from home. I do feel a bit nervous to be re-entering the workforce in a very different physical capacity, but being in a custom-built space that works for me, not against me, has given me the confidence to say yes. My future is looking bright. 

I’m so thankful to Ability SDA for giving me my life back.