Every week, our Youngcare Connect team takes calls from everyday Australians facing extraordinary situations. And Jude Laird's call was no exception.
Jude is living with the debilitating effects of Multiple Sclerosis. She is cared for by her husband, Derek, in their home on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. When she called Youngcare Connect she was in desperate need of assistance. But, it wasn’t for herself.
It was for her much-loved son, Jarrad, a 36-year-old carpenter, who had been in a terrible accident. On November 28, 2010, Jared was out for a trail bike ride with friends – his first ride in six months – when he slipped, fell eight feet and hit his head on a rock. He had broken his neck and was left a quadriplegic.
Jarrad has been living in the spinal injuries unit of the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane since the day of his accident, almost one year ago. Through rehabilitation, Derek says his son is just now re-learning to feed himself.
Derek and his wife drive an hour and a half down to the hospital three to four times a week, with the assistance of the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme.
“It’s just what you do for family,” Derek says.
In addition to this, every second weekend they rent a van to bring Jarrad home.
“It’s great, because we can have a drink together, our grandchildren come over, he’s with the animals,” Derek says.
“But to take him back to hospital on the Monday, that’s very hard,” he says.
On top of his physical challenges, Jarrad is now experiencing environmental depression caused by his extended stay in hospital.
For months, Derek and Jude have been in a tug-o-war with government agencies as they seek funding for home modifications to enable Jarred to live and be cared for at home.
Jude called Youngcare Connect, confused and uncertain of the type and range of services available to her family. Michael Howcroft, a Youngcare Connect Liaison, answered her call and was able to guide her through the next steps.
“This is a family that has been massively let down by the system,” Michael says.
“They have had to put up a real fight and were initially advised that funding would be granted to complete the building, but senior advisors from disability services have since reported that they would only be committed to ‘looking’ for funding.”
Derek says the news has devastated his family, adding to the emotional rollercoaster they have been put through. They still await a definitive answer.
In the meantime, Jarrad remains in hospital.
“To have a loved one experience such a catastrophic and life-changing event is, alone, a huge shock to absorb,” Michael says.
“To not know what services are out there to help them only exacerbates an already stressful situation,” he says.
“Jarrad is ready to come home. He’s got a loving family to come home to. There’s just nothing available in the interim,” Derek says.
“Without appropriate funding, Jarrad’s only other option is an aged care facility. Independent living is not acceptable as he needs 24/7 care. A 36 year old in aged care is just not on. In our modern caring society this is totally unacceptable.”
“He is slipping through the cracks.”
As part of Youngcare Connect, Michael has been able to help by clarifying the type of support services available to the Laird family.
“For example, getting to and from Brisbane was proving difficult and costly, so I let them know about transport assistance.
“I was also able to recommend a respite centre for the interim, which the family are now in discussions with.”
Youngcare Connect is continuing to work with the Laird family to ensure the best possible outcome for Jarrad.
The team at Youngcare has been very inspired by the strength of the Laird family and would like to thank Derek and Jude for sharing their story and helping to shed a light on the issue.
If you, or a loved one, needs information or support, please call 1300 844 727.