0

Mamamia Article

Youngcare housemate Brian and his sister Tash

by Tash Sharpe

Thirteen years later and I can still remember the very early morning phone call from Mum.

“Tash, there has been an accident, Brian is in a bad way. Paul [our older brother] is on his way over…[crying from Mum]…the Navy will call us back when Paul arrives.

“It’s not good Tash, it sounds like he may die…[crying from Mum]”.

From that one call, Brian and our family changed for ever.

I got off the phone and was numb with disbelief. I had no idea what was going on, and the wait for Mum to call back felt like forever. I felt a million miles away and helpless as I was living in Brisbane and the rest of the family were in Canberra.

Youngcare housemate Brian and his sister Tash

The next call was from my brother Paul. He explained the ship had docked in Goa, they had a night off and went in to town to have a few drinks, and something had gone horribly wrong and that the Navy needed one of us to fly to India to be with Brian. My brother flew over and he and the Navy were going to get him home.

The next time I saw my brother was in ICU at the Sydney North Shore Hospital.

We met with the head of neurosurgery and a heap of Navy officials. We were informed that Brian had suffered a number of strokes and heart attacks and that he had sustained a very bad acquired brain injury. We were told that the damage was extensive, and he would be requiring full time care for a very long time, if not forever.

We were then taken in to ICU, he had tubes everywhere and was on a life support machine. I can remember running out and being physically sick. I could not understand what was going on. I had not seen anything like this in my life.

My brother, who I had helped pack before he went overseas only 18 months earlier, was now in ICU with the possibility of not making it.

My brother was having a night out like any young 24-year-old. He bought a cigar at the bar, laced with ‘China White’ – a mix of illicit drugs, apparently commonly used in Goa by criminals to rob tourists. On top of the alcohol, it had a devastating effect.

Brian was an extremely fit sailor, so he began the fight of his life. All of his other organs were fit and healthy, but once the brain is damaged, it’s a very long recovery.

Brian was in ICU for quite some time before being transferred to North Shore Rehabilitation.

Family and friends constantly travelled from Canberra and Brisbane to help Brian in the early days. Without any places in Sydney or Canberra, Brian was transferred to Brisbane for long-term rehabilitation. Brian was then medically discharged from the Navy and unfortunately, the rehabilitation did not last for long. From then, he only received maintenance rehabilitation when the centre had a therapist.

The only possibility for my brother was aged care, which really was not an option for us. He became lost in the health care system, spending the next 12 years residing in a hospital room in a rehab centre that did not have much funding.

He ate hospital food day-in day-out and most of the time was just put in front of a TV. I would find him slumped over in his chair watching children’s TV shows not appropriate for a grown man.

He was bathed, sometimes in the corridor, put to bed by 4pm each afternoon, where he would lie alone, until at least 7.30am the next morning. He lived this life for 12 years.

Two of my children have only known my brother to live in a hospital room. This only became apparent to me when, in 2015, we qualified for a Youngcare grant and I told the rest of the family that Brian was going to have his own home.

My eight-year-old daughter said: “What do you mean, isn’t this hospital Uncle Brian’s home?”

Brian never went home to Canberra and hasn’t seen many of his friends or extended family. He lost so much on that one night that at times, as his sister, I feel guilty for still having.

Brian requires 24-hour care and sometimes two carers to assist him with daily care needs. He requires assistance to eat and drink, but he has a wicked sense of humour and can communicate in his own way.

His facial expressions tell a thousand words.

But his life has improved massively thanks to the Youngcare team and the Home Soon Grant. His life has turned around — he hasn’t stopped smiling and is having so much fun.

He is now back living in the community, he has his own one bedroom unit in a fantastic group home with three fabulous flat mates. He has his own bathroom (basic dignity when it comes to showering or going to the toilet).

He now gets to choose what he wants to eat, what he wants to do each day, what he wants to watch and listen to, when he gets out of bed or goes to bed. He has now started hydrotherapy which for more than 10 years we were told he could not do.

He has gone swimming in the ocean for the first time since his accident. He started attending Mates4Mates events. He goes shopping and to the movies. He has gone to rock concerts with his nephew, he has even had parties at his new home.

He is living his life just like any other young man, but with the 24-hour support he requires.

Our family cannot thank the team at Youngcare enough for what they have given Brian and his future. Although most people believe that something like this would never happen to them, believe me, your life can change in the blink of an eye, and unfortunately, it affects all your family and close friends.

The community needs more and more of the homes that Youngcare provide, but they do come at a cost. That is where we need not only the general community but big corporate companies and the government to help keep Youngcare’s vision a reality: to help get some of the 7,000 young Aussies with high care needs out of aged care.

Our mother recently passed away and she was at ease knowing that her son was in the Youngcare Share House in Wooloowin in Brisbane. She was known as the grandma of the Wooloowin Share House and was so happy the day Brian moved in.

Having watched her son spend the last 12 years in a hospital room, to now finally be living in a real home made her very comfortable in her last few days.

To give young Aussies with high care needs the chance to live a life with choice, independence and dignity, support the Youngcare Christmas Appeal and go to: www.youngcare.com.au/donate/christmas

SHARE THIS!
News you might like:
30 August 2016National not-for-profit organisation Youngcare today announced the appointment of new Chief Executive Officer Anthony Ryan.Mr ...
We want you to be the first to know! Youngcare is thrilled to announce the return of one of Brisbane’s best nights of Australian music: the ...
2 August 2017Youngcare explores options as NSW project endsYoungcare’s partnership with St. Vincent’s Australia to deliver high care housing ...
The Youngcare Simpson Desert Challenge 2017 has been nominated as one of Northern Territory’s best events by industry experts Selected as ...
24 July 2017A message from our partners at VincentsAt VINCENTS one of our core values is to actively build a company environment that contributes ...
5 May 2016WHAT’S ON! 28 APRIL - 8 MAY Simpson Desert ChallengeSupport the trekkers by donating and follow the trek with our regular ...
23 July 2015In 2011, Emily Dash received a Youngcare At Home Care Grant to help her live an independent life at home. Since then she has been ...
5 May 2016A helping hand from Hand Heart PocketYoungcare’s At Home Care Grants are set to continue helping more young Queenslanders with high ...
7 November 2016Share a slice of Youngcake this ChristmasFor a young person with high care needs, the loss of choice and independence is one of ...
1 December 2015MEDIA RELEASE – Youngcare flags risks in NDIS’ Specialist Disability Accommodation Policy FrameworkFOR IMMEDIATE ...
Categories
Archives

Are you a young person seeking help?

What we do

GET INFO

Get Help

GET INFO

Contact Us

GET INFO

A huge thanks to our supporters 

Forte Catering
Network First
Audi Centre Springwood
Channel Nine
Knight Frank
Aurora Adventures
Abi and Joseph
50-50 charity raffle
Birdsville Social Club
MGD Private
Oktoberfest Brisbane
Care Tech
Women's Weekly
Nova
Coates
Story Bride Hotel
CUB
Kabuki
Vincents
Batercard
Wolff Group
One Harvest - love beats
Brazilian Beauty - Albany Creek
Birdsville Hotel
KFC Youth Foundation
Bunnamagoo
ALS
MMO Interiors
EY
Duco Events
Keystone
Vertica Capital
Select AV
Cutting Edge
Clark Real Estate
Neals
QIC
Collins Food
Curwoods Lawyers
Rivergum Homes
Queensland Government
DAE
HSF
FKG
Birdsville Roadhouse
Flight Centre Foundation
Audio Visual Elements
ANZ
Just Cause Bunch
MS Queensland
Betta Home Living
Hand Heart Pocket
Savills
Carbone
Bruce Lynton
Tatts Group
Vantage Performance
Shape
Morgans
Triffid
LAS logo
Style
GNK
Eureka Landscaping
Artis Pura
Hopgood Ganim
Vuly
Thrifty
Servcorp
Just Photography
CV Services
Shine Lawyers
Motorola Solutions
Good2give
Pilot
Queensland Rail
Braggs Signs
Sage
De Luca Corp
Tattersalls Club
Spot Productinons
MTAQ
Taylor Byrne