It may have been twenty years ago, but mum Sylvia and her daughter Emily are still incredibly grateful for the lifeline Windermere provided when they needed it most.
“You people are angels, I have nothing but absolute gratitude and great admiration for Windermere,” says Sylvia.
Emily, who was born with a developmental delay and physical disability, first began receiving services from Windermere when she was just two years old.
As Emily grew, she had to have ongoing surgery to treat severe curvature of the spine. The condition threatened to crush her internal organs and prevent her from walking. Consequently she spent extended periods of time at the Royal Children’s Hospital. Over several operations, two titanium rods were installed alongside her spine. A surgical spring system was also implanted onto Emily’s rib cage to ensure her internal organs were not crushed.
“Emily’s childhood was really cut short as she had to endure constant operations and medical treatments,” says Sylvia, who thought Emily would end up in a wheelchair.
This ongoing and painful medical treatments added to other family pressures. As Emily’s family lived over an hour from the hospital they faced a long commute to visit Emily or to attend appointments.
Additionally, Sylvia was looking after her three young children by herself after escaping a violent family situation. As she needed to care for Emily full time she also struggled to make ends meet and was living on a Carer’s Support Payment.
“I would have been absolutely lost without the support of Windermere,” recalls Sylvia. “There have been various Windermere workers over the years but they have all taken on the support of Emily and have been brilliant.”
Windermere organised physiotherapy and equipment to support and improve Emily’s physical independence. This included organising equipment for the family bathroom and a special orthopaedic mattress. Windermere also provided a wheelchair for Emily which she required post-operations.
In addition Windermere provided vital emotional and financial supports so the family could function and maintain their independence. Windermere paid for a phone plan, petrol and car servicing so Sylvia could attend medical appointments and stay in communication with Emily. “I remember Windermere would regularly ring me, just to see if I was OK,” says Sylvia. Windermere also organised in home support for Emily when it was required.
Fast forward twenty years and Emily is a music loving young woman who has graduated from VCE and nearly completed a Certificate IV in Disabilty.
Emily says she wanted to work in disability services so she can help children who were like herself.
“Windermere is a great organisation and they have helped me a lot over the years,” says Emily.
Emily is also very grateful to her mum, Sylvia. “Mum’s always been there for me and driven me to all my appointments.”
After two decades of receiving support from Windermere, Emily and her mum have chosen Windermere to provide Emily with ongoing National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services.