Help with NDIS invaluable

Luci Achilles using a computerLuci Achilles thinks of Kurrajong as family.

For the past 11 years Luci has drawn on the support of Kurrajong staff, starting when, as a baby, her son Charlie was referred to Kurrajong Early Intervention Service (KEIS) as it was then known.

Charlie attended KEIS – now Therapy Plus – until age six. But then, like many school aged children, he was left without therapies.

Luci and her family found this period incredibly difficult, particularly as they were left alone to navigate costly therapies for Charlie.

“It was an isolating experience. We were having to do everything privately and I struggled with finding products and information.

“Even though we were no longer part of the service, I still had a couple of contacts at Kurrajong that I’d regularly ring and ask, ‘Is there anything you can help me with?’

“They still took my calls and helped me with what they could, which meant so much. They have been a lifeline.”

Luci was pleased and relieved when Kurrajong’s School Aged program became available in 2016.

“I’m glad that they’ve put in this program because there’s no gap any more. I feel so thankful for the families coming after us that won’t have to go through the same experience – they’ll just continue through.”

Luci was again able to draw on the support and expertise of Kurrajong staff this year in developing Charlie’s NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) plan.

“Kurrajong was very quick off the mark, helping me with draft plans,” Luci explains.

“I had about three informal meetings with them, just to talk about behaviours and home situations.

“Because they’re so friendly and I know them quite well, we were just bouncing ideas and they remembered things I didn’t even think about.

“They also supplied letters from the therapists to support our plan, because for the NDIS you really have to prove what you’re after and why you need it.”

For Luci, this staff support took the pressure off to know the ins and outs of the NDIS system.

“I didn’t understand much about it. I work full-time, so I wasn’t able to go to information days but I know Kurrajong staff went to all of those NDIS seminars and were very informed. I got lots of information and am still getting lots of information – even now we’ve got our plan.

“Debbie Young who is normally part of Therapy Plus but also a First Contact team member at the present time also came to my NDIS meeting for my final plan at Intereach as our support person.

“I’m just so thankful that they were there because it’s a lot to remember when you’ve got so much going on and you’re in such unfamiliar territory. Talking about your personal life and 11 years of doctors and behaviours, it’s emotional. It brings it all to the surface again, so having that support person was very reassuring.”

Luci is now very happy with Charlie’s NDIS plan.

“He’s been having therapies once a week at the moment – speech one week and OT the next – and Charlie has a fabulous rapport with his therapists.

“The NDIS means so much. Now we’re not financially struggling and having to choose what’s more important, speech or OT, or between Charlie’s therapies and our other children’s needs. It frees up that financial side of things.

“It also gives him so many opportunities. He gets to have the range of therapies he needs. He’s having OT, speech, we’ve got physio happening. He’s getting it all and, as his needs change, so will his therapies.

“I feel a lot better knowing that with the NDIS and with Kurrajong’s support, Charlie will function to the best of his ability. People say that these kids’ abilities are stronger than their disabilities and I feel that with Kurrajong’s support, they will really thrive.”