Mercy Community helps disabled mother and daughter get back on their feet

Daphne with her daughter, Isobelle, and two dogs.
Daphne with her daughter, Isobelle, and two dogs.

Life hasn’t been easy for 91-year-old Daphne MacKinnon and her daughter Isobelle Kania.
But fortunately, Mercy Community was there to support them in their hour of need.
Here, Isobelle, 58, shares her story and thanks our Short-Term Restorative Care Team for stepping in and giving them hope when they almost gave up.

Falling on hard times

“I became my mother’s fulltime carer 15 years ago after she had multiple heart attacks. I also ran a home business and was a solo mother of two. It was hard work, but we managed.

“Then I was diagnosed with life-changing disabilities myself, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. I found I could no longer work, and when my children moved out, I had to sell the family home.

“I decided to move with my mother from Victoria to Queensland, to a property in Rockhampton that was suitable for both our needs – her ageing health and my chronic disabilities.

“Unfortunately, the day my property sold, the borders closed to New South Wales and Queensland as a result of COVID, and we were stuck in Victoria.

“We were homeless, unable to rent a property, and unable to leave. We hoped this situation would only last a few weeks but unfortunately it ended up being six months.

“Luckily a caravan park offered me a small cabin for my mother to stay in and I stayed next to it in a tent.

“Winter was harsh, with temperatures below zero, and in the first week I broke my knee catching my mother when she fell from the steps of her cabin.

“We knew it wasn’t a safe place for either of us, but nevertheless we were grateful to have somewhere to live.

“With the health system under a lot of strain, we couldn’t see doctors to get medications.

“With the hospitals all closed, I didn’t receive treatment for my knee, and we couldn’t access services to assist us with basic daily living.

“My children and friends were unable to help because of the 5km travel restrictions in place back then, and not having an address anymore made things even more complicated.

“I tried applying to different health ministers for exemptions for the pair of us so we could move to Queensland and find a home in order to get health assistance, but we were turned down four times.

“The agencies in place to help the aged, frail, and disabled were overwhelmed due to COVID, and my mother and I became invisible statistics of the pandemic.

“We simply didn’t exist. We reached out for help but didn’t get it.

“Of course, there was no one to blame really. The situation caught the health system completely by surprise.

“We understand that there were people dying around us, but we were doing without life-saving heart medication at this point.

“We tried to stand up for ourselves, but it was no good.”

 

Daphne working with Mercy Community Physiotherapist, Ashlee.

Mercy Community to the rescue

“By the time we got to Rockhampton at the end of 2020, I was suffering from carer’s exhaustion.

“I couldn’t cope on my own anymore and I needed to make sure that Mum was assisted in some way.

“We were referred to Mercy Community’s amazing Short-Term Restorative Care Team by ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team).

“Without their wonderful efforts to assist my mother’s mobility challenges we would not be where we are today.

“We now see a positive future. My mother has some independence because she can walk short distances again, and pat and feed her dogs.

“As a result, this has had a positive effect on my own quality of life as her carer. Having people by my side to assist has given me hope, and I really appreciate the much-needed guidance, which has been practical and professional.

“We are both very grateful for the high standard of service and genuine professional care that has been made available.

“The physio team has made exercise a pleasure for my mother rather than a chore, and she always looks forward to her sessions.

“The assistance we have had through this program has allowed her to rebuild her confidence and self-esteem. It means she doesn’t have to go into residential care, and we can live happily together.

“I hope the staff at Mercy Community and the Short-Term Restorative Care Team realise what a wonderful service they offer to people like us.

“We no longer feel invisible or isolated in our community. We have a good quality of life at our new home.

“Mercy Community took my mother on and if she dies tomorrow, she’ll have a smile on her face because she now feels like she counts.”

What is Short-Term Restorative Care?

Our Short-Term Restorative Care (STRC) program is designed to get you back doing everyday tasks so you can remain living independently at home.

This intensive course provides a range of care and services for up to eight weeks. It focusses on your goals and is backed by a team of specialist health professionals.

What this will look like is different for everyone.

In Daphne Mackinnon’s case, she has attended physiotherapy sessions twice weekly for the duration of the program.

During this time her goals were to improve her strength, increase her exercise tolerance and manage her pain.

Mercy Community Short-Term Restorative Care Coordinator, Lynette Duffy, said the team was able to guide Daphne safely through an exercise program which resulted in improvements in all areas.

“Daphne was an absolute pleasure to work with as she was always engaged in sessions and used her determination and motivation to work towards her goals,” she said.

“The physio team all noticed a significant improvement. We are looking forward to Daphne continuing to attend physiotherapy group sessions to continue to improve.”

Daphne also benefited from occupational therapists who attended the home assessment and completed equipment trials.

We were able to provide her with equipment, including an iCare bed, to help Daphne manage at home more safely and with greater confidence.

If you wish to return to earlier levels of independence and delay the need for long-term care, the Short-Term Restorative Care program might be an option for you.

The program can be accessed twice in a 12-month period.
Referrals must be via an ACAT assessment.

You may qualify for funding for a STRC program if you are:

Find out more about our Home and Community Care services:

Phone: 1300 927 062
Website: mercycommunity.org.au/home-care

View the Australian Government’s Guide to Short-Term Restorative Care here.

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