A birthday present for Allison

As many of you probably already know, I have a disabled sister. She is my closest sister in age and heart.

To put it simply, she has been left to rot in a Qld aged care home by the Qld Disability Department. She turns all of 39 next week.

Do you know what would be a most excellent birthday present? If we could all lobby the Qld government to get her into disability accommodation NOW.

Madonna King will be telling Allison’s story in her column in tomorrow (Saturday)’s Courier Mail.

Let’s try and get as many people as possible to:

In your emails, please urge the Qld government to:

– give Allison proper disability accommodation NOW
– get young people OUT of aged care homes

Thanks everyone!

BELOW is the letter I sent to Madonna which she will be using in her column. Please feel free to reproduce.

Hi Madonna

I am getting in touch on behalf of my mother, Mary Bailey, who lives in Shailer Park, about the Qld government’s terrible neglect of my disabled sister, Allison.

I urge you to please use your journalistic skills to bring our politicians to account for their false promises of care for young people. The government has a commitment that young people will not be left in aged care homes – yet here is my sister, left to slowly fade away when she could be having quality of life in a disabled person’s home.

I will tell you a little about my sister Allison. She is 38 years old. She likes playing Scrabble and is known as the “UNO Queen” in our family. She is deeply religious, and has long inspired all who meet her with her fortitude and grace.

More than anything, she likes to care for others. She worries that our mother, now 77 years of age, doesn’t take her blood pressure tablets. She frets and tells me to stay warm if I have a cold. She loves her nieces and nephews, and kisses the photos of the babies she has pinned to the wall by her bed.

Last year, my mother finally accepted reality: she could no longer care for Allison. My mother, a War Widow, is too old and frail, and my sister’s needs grew too much for her.

For many years, we had applied to the Queensland government for an adult lifestyle package to help Allison stay socially connected, and contribute to the community as she so dearly loves to do, having spent many years volunteering in childcare and hospitals.

We were always refused.

Last year, when things got too much, Allison was placed in temporary care to wait for a place with Disability Services. In the first week, she suffered a major setback. She lost the ability to swallow and speak.

And so the Queensland government’s systemic neglect began. The government has forgotten her, conveniently shifting her care burden to the Commonwealth, first in St Vincents and now in Yurana aged care facility.

Whilst there, her condition, rather than improving, has slowly deteriorated. Before going into care, she could still walk to the bathroom and around the house. Now she can barely keep herself upright in a wheelchair, so long has she been left in bed by the “carers”.

An aged care home is perfectly good if you are old and about to die. Allison is neither of these things.
She is left in her room, or in front of the TV, with demented residents. There is no stimulation for her; no social interaction, no musical play, no activities for a young person like Allison.

This is simply wrong. We have made formal complaints and contacted the Department and Minister, to no avail.

Allison belongs in a disability support model, one which treats her as the young person she is, with quality of life to be cultivated rather than quietly forgotten.

Even so, Allison still smiles. She can still say, “Mum,” and tries to communicate with her hands and face. She plays UNO and Scrabble, and does her puzzles. She listens to music. When alone, for the many hour of the day and night that my mother or one of us cannot be there, she prays.

Allison is disabled, but there are people who love her and people she loves. She belongs in the disability system, with support for her to live as good a life as she can.

Thank you for reading. I dearly hope you can bring the situation of thousands of disabled young people like Allison, left in aged care homes, to the attention of the public and the government.

Yours sincerely,

Jackie Bailey