Artist supported to live a healthy creative life

At 22 years of age, Dean was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him with a spinal cord injury (SCI) and a brain injury. Dean underwent numerous operations and many months in and out of hospital before looking for suitable ongoing accommodation and support.

Dean and his family chose Royal Rehab for supported accommodation and since 2012 he has been living in a modern and comfortable unit at Ermington. Dean shares the unit with one other resident and has a support worker who assists with everyday living needs.

“The unit is nice and it’s bigger than where I’ve lived previously. It’s only a five to 10 minute walk to the local shops and I go there often for coffee or lunch. We sometimes go to Top Ryde shopping centre if I want to do some shopping.”

Dean’s Support Worker, Lim, has been looking after Dean for almost ten years.  He says working with Dean is very rewarding.

“Dean and I know each other pretty well and this helps me a lot in supporting him. Dean’s injury happened a long time ago, so he is past the recovery phase. Most of what Dean needs now is support in daily living and being as independent as possible.”

“Our job is to support and understand Dean to live the best life he can, as independently as possible.

“We help Dean manage make healthy choices around food and his lifestyle. We encourage and support him with healthy meal preparation and staying active in the community by maintaining his hobbies and socialising with friends and family. And we provide personalised programs to suit the individual. For example, Dean doesn’t enjoy group activities, so we have arranged one on one sessions.”

Dean was a very good artist in his youth so Royal Rehab has arranged an art teacher to regularly come to his home. “I really like the lessons and am quite a gifted artist,” Dean says. “I create artworks with all different mediums – painting, sketching, crayons and so on.”

He also has guitar lessons. “I played in a band with my school friends in England, so I’ve been writing songs with my teacher about my past. We often use my iPad – I write the words and my teacher helps me turn it into a song.”

Lim says that the support that Dean receives from the other care workers and the broader Royal Rehab team is essential. “As a team, we work closely and we also have the support of Royal Rehab’s allied health professionals – such as dietitians, psychologists, social workers and speech therapists. We all work to a detailed long-term plan for Dean that means we are all on the same page and working towards the same goals. The team are just amazing in terms of their patience and genuine care for all our residents.”