Hazel’s Story

At just 21, Hazel was given shocking news that would change her life forever.

She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating neurological disease that over time, has left her in permanent need of round the clock care. As a single Mum caring for her young son and her care needs increasing, Hazel began to research her future options.

“I had to try and work out: what am I going to do? Where is this going to take me? What happens when my health gets worse?” But in the search, Hazel made a startling discovery. She realised, “I may have to go into an aged care home because there is nothing out there. It made me feel like I had no other choice, that I had nowhere else to go. It made me feel down and depressed with the thought that this is reality – and I didn’t want to go there. I needed something else where I didn’t lose my individuality and I could be my own person. That’s where Youngcare came in”

At that time, Youngcare had just completed the first ever Youngcare Apartments in Brisbane, offering everything a young person requiring round the clock care needs to live a young life filled with hope, possibility and dignified care.

Thankfully now, Hazel is a resident with her very own state of the art, purpose built Youngcare Apartment and living the kind of life that every young person deserves. Hazel is also benefiting from a uniquemodel of 24 hour care at the apartments courtesy of Youngcare’s partner Wesley Mission Brisbane. “The type of care is very good. The staff are wonderful. The way they treat you. They know how to respect you and your wishes which is really good.”

The issues faced by young people just like Hazel, their families and carers are complex and far reaching. Shockingly, studies suggest that 44% of young people in aged care homes received a visit from friends less than once a year, 21% went outside the home less than once a month and 34% almost never participated in community activities such as shopping. Studies have also proven an increase in the incidence of depression.

And there is also a more profound truth in this problem with the crisis extending into the family. Hazel agrees, “I know my Mum and Dad care extensively and it would have been extremely depressing for them to know that their little girl was in an aged care home while they were fighting fit. Mum and Dad realise how hard it would have been and understand that Youngcare was the best choice for me.

If the Youngcare Apartments didn’t exist I’d be more sheltered. I’d feel isolated. I’d feel that I was all on my own, that nobody cared.”  Thankfully, it is because others cared, that Hazel along with 16 other young people now have a new lease on life.

But there are still many others that are not as fortunate. Over 6,500 young people are living in aged care around the country, with a further 720,000 facing the prospect of having to do so.
Aged care offers the type of care that is designed for the end of someone’s life, where the average age is 83 and life expectancy is only 2 years.

There are many that urgently need help and Youngcare has vowed to provide hope, possibilities and dignified care for every young person who needs it. But it’s a big job and Youngcare is only made possible through the combined support of the community, business and government. Only with their continued support can Youngcare can create more awareness and positive, lasting change in the lives of thousands of young people.

And now, Hazel is urging others to join the fight. “It’s changed my world. It’s made it more positive for me. And more apartments need to be set up around Australia and if anybody who’s out there can support, please support.”

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Youngcare Benefit Concert 2010

Two leading lights of Australian music, Bernard Fanning and Clare Bowditch will join forces on Friday 26 March 2010 with a very special line up of guest performers for the Youngcare Benefit Concert 2010 at the Tivoli Theatre, Brisbane.

The renowned singers, along with host Julian Morrow, will lend their talents to raise funds and awareness for Youngcare; a Brisbane charity driving change and providing choice for young people with high care needs living in aged care.

Crowned ARIA Best Male and Female Artist respectively in 2007, Bernard and Clare have planned a unique night of entertainment featuring mystery guests. If past events are anything to go by, it’s sure to have some unexpected surprises and never‐before‐seen collaborations, with past performers including Kasey Chambers, Shane Nicholson and Pete Murray.

Event Curator & Musical Director, Bernard Fanning, has long lent his support to Youngcare as it is a cause close to his heart. “Youngcare is tirelessly working to find solutions. I would not want to live in aged care before my time, so why should others have to? If my music can raise awareness and money for Youngcare to continue to deliver quality care for Australia’s young, then that’s great,” Fanning said.

100 per cent of the Benefit Concert proceeds will go to Youngcare, and tickets are on sale at Ticketek.

Visit www.youngcare.com.au for more information about Youngcare.

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Youngcare proudly launches “Youngcare Connect” and welcomes Melissa James

In response to an overwhelming public demand, Youngcare has introduced a new support service called “Youngcare Connect”.

Youngcare Connect is a dedicated counselling and referral line for people in desperate need of disability information and advice.

Melissa James joined the Youngcare team in late January as the Youngcare Connect Liaison Officer and will work to connect young people and their families to relevant information and programs. Melissa is a social worker with a background in working with not-for-profit organisations and government agencies both nationally and internationally. Melissa has worked in a number of different industries including aged care, mental health, young people and families, community development, child protection and disabilities.

Youngcare Connect will enable Youngcare to effectively respond to the dramatic increase in calls and emails received from individuals, families and care providers, which number in the thousands over the past 12 months.

Youngcare Connect provides a single point of contact for appropriate referral pathways and information about relevant services for young people with full-time care needs.

The implementation of Youngcare Connect allows Youngcare to further its mission by connecting young people to their community and the greater health industry.

Youngcare Connect has been made possible by Suncorp and will initially be staffed part-time with the support of dedicated volunteers, managed by Melissa.

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A New Hope for Jess

While many have heard about the Youngcare Apartments, there is another facet to Youngcare which brings hope and possibility to many young people requiring full-time care and faced with limited alternatives – the Youngcare Home Care Grants.

In the case of 20-year-old Gold Coast girl Jessica Dunne, the Youngcare Home Care Grants will allow for her to finally return home after many months in hospital.

Last year Jessica was struck by The Meningococcal Virus, leaving her with limited movement and the inability to eat or speak although still being able to see and hear everything around her.

Jessica spent three months in intensive care at the Gold Coast Hospital after undergoing a craniotomy to reduce the swelling in her brain. Her prognosis wasn’t good.

While Jessica’s mother and two sisters have maintained a consistent bedside vigil, they are keen to bring her back home to commence a rehabilitation program and bring the family together again.

In 2009, 16 Youngcare Home Care Grants were approved across Queensland at a total value of $137,291. Among them was a $10,000 grant to assist Jessica’s family in making modifications to their house including purchasing adequate equipment, allowing Jessica to come home.

Youngcare CEO, Marina Vit said, “The Youngcare Home Care Grants program is an important initiative, as it assists greatly in raising awareness and providing more choice to young Australians with 24/7 care needs.

The Youngcare Home Care Grants will aim to enhance the standard of living for young people with a disability and to assist carers with their current responsibilities,” Marina said.

The Youngcare Home Care Grants, ranging up to $10,000 for each application, are for the provision of equipment or services to assist young people between 18 and 65 who are living with a disability to remain in their own home for as long as possible.

In Jessica’s case, the grant will fulfil her mother Karen’s dream to bring her daughter home where she can take on the role of full-time carer.

“This grant will mean I can take my daughter home and I won’t have to put her into an old age nursing home.”

Karen said the grant would allow the family to modify their home to suits Jessica’s needs.

Youngcare was also able to support the Dunne Family in receiving a funding grant from the Younger People in Residential Aged Care (YPIRAC) initiative.

“Without the help of Youngcare I doubt very much that we would have the funding which we have received. This YPIRAC funding will be vital to Jessica’s rehabilitation. Time is a key factor in rehabilitation from brain injuries and this funding allows the process to start now, I am so grateful for the help I received from Youngcare and the Gold Coast community,” Karen said.

Marina said Youngcare’s goal was to significantly grow the size of the Home Care Grants program – both in terms of monetary and reach.

“While this year’s grants were confined to Queensland, the issue is national and we will work to grow the program to reach recipients across the country” she said.

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Hats Off to Ironman Karl

Hailing from the scenic rim town of Kalbar is Everyday Hero, Karl Pfeffer.

Karl is an amateur ironman who has participated in the Kokoda Challenge, the Insomnia 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race and Yeppoon Half Ironman.

However, there is nothing amateur about Karl’s fundraising efforts with the talented athlete keen to clock in excess of over $2000 for Youngcare.

Karl has been focussing his efforts on raising money for Youngcare by attracting a sponsorship of $10 for each of the 226km of cycling, running and swimming he will complete as part of the Busselton Ironman Triathlon in Western Australia this past December.

“I have participated in a few endurance events that are connected to charitable organisations, but the experience of raising both awareness and funds for Youngcare has far surpassed anything I have done in the past. Although my fundraising target was fairly modest in the scheme of things, knowing that I have engaged as many people as I have to think of the massive need to help create change for young people in care has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

I have had a tremendous response from friends, family, workmates and local business people. I have found that I would like to continue to help Youngcare after the ironman is completed.”

With only one month to go, Karl is more than halfway there with his sister and mum helping in the fundraising stakes by staging events such as a garden sale and a workplace morning tea.

“ I’d like to thank everyone that has helped me along the way – the donors, my family for their great support both in giving me the grace to spend the time training and their huge help with the fundraising, my training buddies that have come out and endured these insanely long rides and runs with me and last but not least, the great team at Youngcare that have provided a lot of encouragement along the way” Karl said.

Youngcare would like to send a special congratulations to Karl and his partner Jacinta who are expecting the birth of their first child very soon.

We thank Karl, and you can read his race recap on his blog. To sponsor Karl and his ironman efforts donate here, or get updates via his blog.

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Youngcare Apartments: Sinnamon Park, QLD

The very first Youngcare Apartments at Sinnamon Park, Brisbane opened its doors to residents on the 8th December, 2007. It was the culmination of 2 1/2 years of hard work and dedication by many people including our construction partner FKP, service consultants, sponsors, partners and the community. The new residents are now enjoying didnified and relevant lifestyles like any other young person.

The 14 state of the art apartments focus on a superior quality of life for young people with disabilities. You can view more pictures of the apartments and the construction process on our Flickr Page.

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