I’m Andy and I’m 34 years old. I’m also the Guinness World Record holder for the most spins in a power wheelchair in one minute!
I’m a huge sports fan and love playing sports myself too. My passion is Powerchair Football (or soccer if you must call it that!) I love watching live sports – especially when the Wanderers play.
Before moving into my Ability Apartment, I lived with my parents at their home. I stayed with them until I was 26 and then a friend of mine suggested trying to find long-term disability accommodation instead. I had previously been looking actively on Domain and other housing websites for something to rent but it’s almost impossible to find suitable disability housing on those general sites. This was all pre-NDIS and we had very limited options at the time.
My friend was also looking into it all for himself and once we applied for long-term disability accommodation, were both accepted pretty quickly. My first unit was 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, close to my work, my friends and the pub so that worked for me! While they did have some onsite staff support, it wasn’t 24/7 and I didn’t actually ever use that help because I found it too daunting after living with my family for so long – it seemed strange to me having someone I didn’t know coming in to support me.
That first apartment was pretty ok at first. It had some home-automation and I enjoyed the independence of living alone. I really enjoyed having my mates over though and figured out that I needed more space pretty quickly… once you get 3 or 4 wheelchairs into a tiny unit it’s a bit like playing a really difficult game of Tetris!
Initially, I had some trouble transitioning into Specialist Disability Accommodation under the new NDIS funding scheme. My Support Coordinator at the time wasn’t great. He was using my funding incorrectly and was trying to convince me to move somewhere I didn’t want to go. Unfortunately, that sometimes happens and you do need to stay aware of what’s going on. I stood up for myself and found a new Support Coordinator through my Powerchair Sports contacts.
Luckily, that’s also when I found out about Ability SDA and my great, new Support Coordinator helped me apply for the right level of NDIS funding. She really took the hassle out of everything for me and her help was absolutely vital in making the application process a success. She didn’t just get me into my Ability Apartment, she also showed me all the other things I could use my funding for. I’m so grateful to her.
Moving into the Ability Apartments was easy. There was constant communication from the Ability SDA team checking in to see that I had everything I needed. My family and Support Coordinator helped me with the move. I was able to keep all my external supports when moving into the new building, which was important to me at the time, but the onsite team here has been so great that I’m thinking of using them for everything instead. It’s great to have the choice though – I value being able to make my own decisions.
There’s a lot to love about my Ability Apartment! The accessibility is next level. There’s secure off-street parking and the lifts and entry areas to the actual building all have wider doors to accommodate wheelchair users. Because there’s also a lot more room in my apartment, there’s more potential for entertaining my mates too. We love the rooftop terrace on a Friday night for watching sports together and if we get a bit carried away, they can crash for the night in my spare bedroom. My friends really love my new home.
There’s more natural light in my apartment too and that means I don’t have to turn the light on as much. That’s a blessing because Alexa can be a little touchy at times! I’m joking of course, I haven’t really had any trouble with the assistive technology in my apartment – it’s been great. I’m even talking to the Ability SDA team about adding a few more extra things for me and they’re helping me move through that process.
It makes a real difference being in a modern, functional and well-built place. In my last apartment I had an issue where the cupboards in the kitchen kept coming down. I even had one incident where they nearly fell on me and that wasn’t good at all. It’s way better here where I can easily and safely access the things I need in the kitchens and bathrooms especially.
Overall, I just have so much more space here. I’m so glad I was in this apartment during lockdown – my mental health would have been much worse if I’d been cramped up in my old apartment during that time. Here I have choice and control. I know what my funding can be used for. My goals in life are really just to always be independent and have choice and control over my own life. I can do that here and I’m supported in that by my supports and the Ability SDA team. I would recommend anyone wanting to look into SDA just to do it and get that control too.