Listen: Laura & Duncan spoke with Youngcare CEO Anthony Ryan ahead of their upcoming Simpson Desert Challenge campaign. Above: Chris, a YoungCare client, went from isolation and questioning his existence, to happy in his own home.
When you think of a ‘nursing home’, you picture an institution for elderly relatives to be supported in the twilight of their lives.
But for over 7000 young disabled Australian, nursing homes – better known these days as aged care facilities – are the only place they can go for the full-time care they need.
That was the reality for Chris, a young musician from Victoria who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 35, just five years after his wife was also diagnosed with MS.
“At the age of 42, my life came to a complete standstill when I deteriorated and was forced into aged care without a say,” Chris wrote.
“I had no say in my own life what-so-ever. It was the biggest emotional rollercoaster that I have ever been on, and aside from being diagnosed with MS, it was the most terrible thing that I have ever experienced, felt or witnessed.
“The hardest part of all was the loneliness. As a musician, I have always been a very social person, but in aged care, I had very few visitors. I felt completely isolated. I was really struggling to remind myself who I am. You do question your own existence and don’t want to become a burden.”
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How YoungCare Helped Chris Return Home
It was the YoungCare that made all the difference.
They’re a charitable organisation dedicated to creating a world where ‘no young person has to call aged care home’.
With an ‘At Home Care Grant’ from YoungCare, Chris was able to transition back into his own home. It’s changed his life.
“I like that I am waking up in my own home,” he said. “I can do the things I want, when I want, like listening to my favourite music and watching movies.
“Ending up back in aged care is not an option for me.
“Youngcare has enabled me to start fitting out my home for wheelchair and ambulance use. With the grant, we are going to be able to knock down some walls and add some outside decking, so that my home will remain more accessible in the long run.”
Inspired by One Woman’s Fight for Appropriate Care
Established in 2005, Youngcare was inspired by one couple’s struggle to find dignified and age-appropriate care when 33-year-old Shevaune Conry was suffering disability—also from the effects of multiple sclerosis.
Since its formation, the organisation has helped 450 young people to stay out of aged care facilities, and others to exit aged care. Some are able to live at home, while others are now living in purpose-built accommodation.
The organisation is supported by celebrities including Bernard Fanning, Sylvia Jeffries, and radio celebrities Ryan Fitzgerald and Michael Wipfli.
They’ve raised funds through outdoor adventure-style trips and events such as walking the Great Wall of China, climbing Machu Picchu, walking the Kokoda Track, and crossing the Simpson Desert.
Get Behind the Simpson Desert Trek
Their next big event is a Simpson Desert 11-day trek, from May 25 to June 4. It’s a highly difficult trek, not for the faint-hearted, involving fundraising targets and eight full days and nights in the desert, exposed to the elements.
Trekkers will climb more than 1,000 sand dunes, over approximately 250km.
But for those brave enough to get on board, it’ll reward you with a celebration finish at the iconic Birdsville Hotel and the knowledge that you have dramatically changed the lives of young Australians.