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Help keep more young people with neurological conditions out of aged care

A place for Neil to call home

Neil Carol and her husband

The first night Neil Cumming stayed at MSWA’s Hamilton Hill high support accommodation facility, his mother Carol barely slept a wink.

“I was terrified Neil wouldn’t like staying there after 25 years of being cared for at home with us,” says Carol.

Carol and her husband Roger had looked after Neil since a motorbike crash at 19 left him with acquired brain injury affecting his speech and movement.

Knowing they couldn’t keep up his care indefinitely, they began to look for a suitable place for Neil to live. Carol, who’d had a career in aged care accommodation, had seen the situation of younger people living in facilities alongside the elderly – only because there were no age-appropriate options for them.

“We didn’t want to place Neil in an aged care facility,” said Carol, “but we didn’t think any other alternatives existed.”

One day Neil’s long-time girlfriend Alena - a resident at Hamilton Hill - invited Neil over for coffee. It was Carol who dropped Neil off for the get together, and the moment she arrived she knew this was exactly the place for Neil!

“When we first saw MSWA’s Hamilton Hill facility we thought it would be perfect for him – but we assumed MSWA would only accept people with MS,” says Roger.”

Carol and Roger quickly discovered that MSWA’s high support accommodation facilities were also for people with other neurological conditions. To their great excitement, they learned that a second residence was being built on the block next door.

MSWA reserved a place for Neil and a year later the new residence was completed.

Neil moved into a comfortable room with his own ensuite bathroom. Once he’d settled in, Carol and Roger went home and hoped for the best.

But they needn’t have worried - Neil was happy in his new home.

Neil and Alena

‘Neil lives a full life,’ says Roger. “He and Alena have a weekly ‘date’ each Tuesday – Neil has introduced Alena to the casino and they both enjoy going there, or to lunch and the cinema.

“He loves his music and goes to concerts with his brother. Most of his days are taken up with activities. I take him for haircuts, but the only day Neil has left to see me is Monday!”

Neil has a wicked sense of humour. He regularly taps out jokes on his Lightwriter machine, teasing the staff who run the facility.

‘They are like his second family,’ says Carol. “Neil is well looked after 24 hours a day, served home-cooked food and the atmosphere is like just like home for Neil and the other residents.”

Carol and Roger have been able to take international trips and cruises safe in the knowledge that Neil is being well cared for.

“Before we would occasionally rely on respite accommodation when going overseas, or else we took trips separately,” says Roger.

‘We miss having him around home on a daily basis, but with MSWA’s help, life has become a lot easier for us.’

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