A huge part of Spinal Home Help’s commitment to improving the quality of life for people with spinal injury is our focus on supporting not only the individual but their family, friends and loved ones as well. We understand the importance of informal networks; the benefits of having friends and family around to provide emotional and mental support, especially during the early days of rehabilitation, are inestimable. But having the resources to take time out of our busy schedules AND travel to the spinal unit our loved ones are staying in – that can be tough to manage, especially for rural families.
Spinal Home Help would like to see greater support for the families of people with spinal injuries, especially those from rural and regional areas, and to facilitate this we’re launching a fairly ambitious but necessary project. Teaming up with VIP Access, SHH is in discussions with government bodies to negotiate the use of a block of land as close to the hospital as possible, in order for us to build a fully accessible accomodation house. This four bedroom house will provide accommodation for the families of those people with spinal injury who are undergoing rehabilitation in the Princess Alexandra Hospital, enabling them to spend time with their loved one and providing company and support for them as they recover. Flights into town are expensive enough and then comes the challenge of finding somewhere reasonably priced and close by the hospital; these financial barriers are simply too much for many rural and regional families. We’d like to change that, at least for some.
The house will be fully accessible, featuring the latest in home modifications to make the place as wheelchair-user-friendly as possible. That way, when they’re ready, the person with a spinal injury can come to visit their family at the accommodation with the knowledge that they will be able to fully access all features of the house, like the accessible bedrooms and bathrooms, and try out assistive gear like hoists, showers and more. It will also be a great opportunity for folks to try out assistive technology in the house – things like climate and electronics control systems, cookware, televisions and more will be available to try out as they become available for us to install in the house. We’ll also keep resources like flyers and brochures from a wide range of suppliers on hand, and arrange visits from our peer mentors when desired, so that folks can explore the range of available wheelchairs, powerchairs, vehicle and housing modifications and other items.
Ultimately, this house will serve a three-fold purpose. Firstly, to give families the chance to stay close to their loved ones, where distance and money would have been barriers before. Secondly, to give individuals some encouragement and freedom during their stay in the spinal unit, while ensuring they visit a safe and controlled environment during their healing stage. Thirdly, the more knowledge someone has before they head home for good, the better. Our peer mentors can encourage you and your family, helping you to adjust and engage with your community, give you tips and tricks for making life a bit more comfortable, give you ideas for how you might like to modify your own home and some preparations you’ll want to make before you leave rehabilitation in the spinal unit.
SHH is working with our sponsors and partners to secure funding for this project, but every little bit counts. We are staffed by people with spinal injury, family and friends, and all volunteer their time to support the organisation; we rely on community support and the generosity of others to provide all our services. If you’d like to contribute to this project and to helping us maintain our free programs and events, you can donate through our Everyday Hero profile by clicking the donate now button on the banner. If you could write a letter of support for this project outlining why you think this is a vital resource for the families of people with spinal injury, we would love to hear your thoughts. We appreciate and celebrate all our volunteers and always welcome both new individuals and new organisations who want to come on board at SHH as well.