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CDC provides a unified approach to Marion’s well-being

photo of Marion and GarryMarion and Garry have been married for over 40 years. They met at Teachers college where they both enjoyed the various cultural and sporting opportunities college life offered and where Marion won a Blues Award for her sporting ability. Over time the couple started a family and shared their lives with two wonderful daughters. They now have two grandchildren as well.

In the early years Marion displayed some physical symptoms (including tiredness, blurred vision and a degree of clumsiness) which were later clearly indicative of a Multiple Sclerosis (MS) diagnosis. Just after the birth of her second child, in 1984, Marion had a severe loss of vision and was immediately referred to a neurologist. Marion’s vision soon returned and the neurologist said not to worry about it, to get on with their lives.

Over the next few years at different times Marion experienced more symptoms and in 1989 MRI results delivered the couple bad news. Marion had MS. After consulting the previous neurologist it appears that he strongly suspected MS but decided not to tell the couple (they hope this wouldn’t happen to anyone today – they feel they should have been told).
In the early years after the diagnosis the symptoms appeared intermittently but were manageable.

As the condition progressed from remitting/relapsing MS (where the condition appears then relapses) to secondary progressive MS (where the condition gradually gets worse with no respite) the limitations on the family became significant. The limitations were of a physical, social, emotional and financial nature. Garry was working full time in a demanding job and had to manage many home duties as well. He also needed to take the main role in looking after their two daughters and all this entails.

This was difficult for Marion who used to be a hands on mother, wonderful sewer and would have liked to do the usual motherly duties with her daughters. Extended family members assisted where they could, however in the case of Marion’s mother and mother-in-law, they were advancing in years. “We managed on our own for a long time, but we ended up seeking assistance with cleaning once a fortnight and some limited personal care assistance,” explains Garry.

Marion tried hard to cope, ‘I will never get a walking stick, or a wheelchair or a pubic catheter,’ she would say. However as the disease progressed she had to accept these and other aids. Garry decided he had no option other than to leave work earlier than expected, to care for Marion full time. Garry tried to have Marion assessed by ACAT. “Initially I was told they don’t assess people under 65 years of age, but I persisted and put together a comprehensive summary of her condition,” explained Garry. “The head of ACAT contacted me that afternoon and said she would assess Marion and was eventually classified as requiring high care.”

As a consequence of her assessment by ACAT Marion was approached by annecto and was offered a package of care. Marion and Garry say this was the best thing that could have happened to them. They now had a case manager who along with them, would assess Marion’s needs then develop strategies to address those needs and provide the necessary professionals, programs and resources needed to support those strategies.

Apart from domestic care, and personal care every morning for an hour, they have the assistance of professionals (an OT, Physio, Podiatrist, and nurses) and equipment including a wheelchair, sliding boards, catheters, ramps etc. “All her care was under the one umbrella. I think the Consumer Directed Care Model is working very well in our case, we work as a team and if (anyone of us) have an idea that could help Marion, they are all considered and worked through,” said Garry.

For Marion and Garry the support from annecto has had a huge impact on their lives. “If annecto hadn’t supported us we would have been in a far worse state physically and mentally and in every other way. We have developed a very close relationship with annecto on a personal and professional level. It is a very positive relationship and the team approach works well. While the support of the package is very important the quality of our relationship with our case manager, Himanshu Singh is critical to its success. We are incredibly fortunate to have the wonderful professional and personal support of Himanshu. It is critical for Package Providers to get the right person in the role of case manager,” explains Garry.

To find out if you are eligible for a Consumer Directed Care Home Care Package, visit the My Aged Care website.