Resident and support worker forge a special friendship

58-year-old Kevin has a brain and spinal injury from a train accident he had in 1999. He has lived at Royal Rehab’s supported accommodation at Ermington in Sydney for almost 10 years, along with four other residents.

Ben: I help Kevin with a huge variety of things as brain injuries are very complex – there are his physical needs of course, but there are also intellectual, emotional and behavioural challenges. Kevin uses a manual wheelchair but I always encourage him to be as independent as possible. He will do some kitchen duties and much of his own personal care such as showering and so on. He is extremely social and goes on outings with his support worker three times a week. He really loves watching the rugby and is a huge St George fan.

Kevin: Ermington is a nice home, I like it a lot. I love going out with my friends and enjoying myself, and the staff and the other people there are good. My family can come and see me whenever I like. I like being settled down and being in one spot. I like being free – and I am.

Ben: Things like planning, organising and making higher level decisions are difficult for Kevin. I look after his medication plan and his daily routine, and keep track of his appointments and medical check-ups. I also help him with cooking meals and some of his personal care.

Where he is able to make decisions, the team and I will guide him and encourage him to make good choices. For example, we ask him what outings he would like to go on in the coming week and then plan his weekly activities together. I also help him with his weekly spending money – we will talk about how much he might need for an outing, and I’ll remind him if he spends it all he won’t have any left for the rest of the week. We also talk to Kevin about his nutrition and making healthy choices in regards to what he eats and how much. We respect that he is an adult and understandably wants to make his own decisions.

Kevin: Ben is a man who really cares, he cares all the time. He is a very good person and does lots of things I like. Sometimes I get upset but I don’t mean to.


Ben: Kevin can struggle with his emotions and he has a lot of ups and downs. But we know him well now; we can read his mood and we know how he will react and how to help him when he loses control. He does get quite sad sometimes, so we will offer him extra things to try and cheer him up. It might take an hour or two but then he comes out of it. After nine years together, there is a real sense of trust between us now. We have an understanding Kevin and I, it’s like a family relationship. If I challenge something, he listens to me because he knows I have his best interests at heart. When he wants something, I listen to him.

Kevin: Whenever I get anything now, I respect it and look after it. I didn’t when I was younger, before my accident. If I ever get extra money from the government, I’ll leave it for the kids and families in this country who need it. I also try to be kind to the other people who live here and always check they are OK. The reason I follow St George is because the club cares for and respects their players and their families more than any other club and I like that.

Ben: Kevin has many challenges, but he is just trying to have a normal life. His mum visits as much as she can and she is a wonderful lady. He also has quite a few sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews who he talks to on the phone almost every day. Everybody loves Kevin, he is a lovely man.