Support for a new lease on life
Published at: 04 Jan 2019
Ron Gollan was a 20 year old butcher living in Penrith when he was assaulted in 1986.
As a result, Ron was afflicted with an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI), which affects his memory and means he has been unable to work or perform many day to day activities without some level of assistance or supervision in the ensuing 32 years.
Now 52, Ron lives with his wife Helen in Benalla.
Unable to be in the community independently owing to his ABI, Ron would spend his days at home waiting for Helen to finish work.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) connected Ron to GV Health as a part of his support plan.
“When I first met Ron he said he really wanted to work, to use his skills and get out in the community and meet people,” said Eloise Grabham, Ron’s National Disability Insurance Support (NDIS) Support Co-ordinator. “Prior to the NDIS Ron couldn’t plan for that, or do things like budgeting and going to the shops.”
“Ron told me he loves being outside doing his gardening,” said Ms Grabham. “He wanted to do a job that incorporated those two things.”
Ms Grabham rang around looking for positions available that ticked those boxes, eventually connecting him with a plant nursery in Benalla.
“Ron hadn’t worked until this job,” said Helen. “He’s always wanted to, but we didn’t know what he could do.”
“There was a lot of pressure on Helen before the NDIS,” said Ms Grabham. “Ron loves every day banter, and now he can come home with his own news and not be living through Helen as much.”
“Life’s changed a lot,” said Ron. “I really look forward to going to work on Thursdays, and the first paycheck was excellent – we printed it out at Officeworks to keep.”
“I’ve noticed a difference after getting the job in April,” said Helen. “It’s helped him realise why he can’t do certain things, but he’ll give them a try. I praise him for that.”
The NDIS also helped place Ron with a companion, who takes him out into the community and adds another layer of support and independence to every day life.
“It’s good we could match Ron with a male,” said Ms Grabham. “Ron wanted someone who could match his interests, who could talk about the footy and help him be more social.”
“Jamie (Ron’s support worker) comes on Tuesdays,” said Ron. “He’s become a family friend – he helps us out and does favours, like driving me to the hospital when Helen was in.”
Ron is a very handy artist, specialising in portraits painted with oil. He has been reluctant to return to his paint brushes.
Jamie, also an artist, spends some of their weekly time together helping to rebuild Ron’s artistic confidence.
“Ron looks forward to seeing Jamie,” said Helen. “It helps that they’re the same age and have similar interests, too.”
Another aspect of Ron’s life which has changed a lot is his regular paycheck, which has meant that he can save and budget for a surprise Christmas gift for Helen for the first time.
“He’s got a gift on layby for her,” said Ms Grabham. “This man loves his wife a lot!”
At home, Ron is working on his gardening plot, meaning he and Helen are becoming more and more self-sufficient.
“Ron used to talk to the guy who sold us the land – he said we wouldn’t grow anything here,” said Helen. “But he’s talked to the nursery, gotten advice and tried and tried – and it’s working.”
“We’ve got vegetables, salad fruit, and new chooks,” said Ron. “I’ve got an aquarium, and I really want a dog, too.”
“With the NDIS, Ron has so much more choice and control,” said Ms Grabham. “Ron does things his way, and it really works.”
“Without the NDIS, Ron would have had none of this,” said Helen. “He’d have been happy just pottering around the yard without this support.”
Community Interlink is part of GV Health’s community based programs, supporting independent community living for well over 1000 local people every year.
Learn more about Community Interlink.