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Art to the aid of Acquired Brain Injury

David Stacy is on a journey as he recovers from a stroke which left him with an acquired brain injury resulting in short-term memory difficulties and feeling isolated and disconnected from the activities he loves. With the help of Feros Care and the NDIS, he’s found a way to not only engage again in his passions for art and music, but also connect with his local community and start his own business. 

He’s been a lover of art since he was a young boy, and now 62-year-old David Elliott Stacy’s first passion is making a profound comeback in his life. 

David – who likes to mention his middle name because it’s his mother’s maiden name and he’s proud of it – grew up with his twin brother Robert “loving art”. 

“We’ve been painting ever since we were kids. I was sending stuff away and winning competitions in expos in Japan in primary school.” 

In 2005, David suffered a stroke and he has since been learning to live with an acquired brain injury resulting in short-term memory loss and cognitive limitations. More recently, his memory has been declining and he finds it difficult managing daily activities. 

So, in 2020, with the help of Feros Care, David kickstarted his first NDIS plan to help him connect with his community, receive therapy and gain access to functional capacity assessment. He receives help to support his family at home, support in pursuing his passion for music and painting, and assistance to manage his NDIS plan. 

David’s brother Robert is an amputee and also an NDIS participant, and the brothers live at home with their mother who has Alzheimer’s Disease. Their father passed away after an aortic aneurysm. 

“I’ve had to realise how difficult it must have been for my mother throughout all of this, and it really warms my heart. She’s an incredibly strong woman. She’s 84 now and I never hear her complain,” David says. 

With the support of Feros Care and the NDIS, David’s enthusiasm for reconnecting with his community has flourished. Now, with his brother, he attends a regular NDIS-run art group with other people with disabilities. 

He has been helped enormously simply by being given the opportunity to interact with others “who are interested in the things I do”. 

“They’re inspirational. They’ve had their own problems and it helps me understand that I’m not the only person going through this. You can pick up some strategies that really help”. 

“I’ve got my love for art back. I’ve turned the garage into a studio and I do pictures for my grandsons. They’re becoming artists now too.” 

David has also recently connected with four men who play music – they have started a band and a fortnightly jamming session. 

While in Royal Adelaide Hospital, David met another patient who was with a group called Families4Families which is an acquired brain injury network, and was asked to donate some of his paintings to fundraise for the group. 

David also conducted art classes at Families4Families, and has now been inspired to start his own business, Stacy Arts. 

As Stacy Arts, he plans to use art to help others by selling his own works and sharing his ideas online. 

“I’d like to sell really simple ideas that anybody can do. All you need to do is be interested and get some self-satisfaction from thinking, ‘Wow, I did that and now I can share it with others.’” 

David wants others to realise they can do “things they didn’t even dream they would be interested in doing”. 

In David’s first plan, he wasn’t ready to discuss self-employment or volunteer work. However, after he had been using his plan – and with support from Feros Care and his Support Coordinator – he became interested in how he could use art to increase his social and economic participation in his community. 

David’s Local Area Coordinator through Feros Care, Luciana Seara, says he was introduced to some mainstream and community programs supporting people with a disability to start their own businesses. 

“He jumped straight away into the idea and the concept of Stacy Arts was born.” 

Luciana says that before she met David, he was becoming isolated. 

“David tries to look after the family’s needs and it’s overwhelming because of the challenges of the stroke which impact his mental health. 

“He was keen to do his art but it was hard and, to a certain extent, he had lost hope.” 

The core supports for daily living and assistance for social and community participation provided through his NDIS plan “were a shift for David”. 

Luciana says David is set to take part in an initiative of the Barossa Feros Care office” All-In For Art in June 2021 (www.feroscare.com.au/allinforart) where artists will volunteer their time to support others. 

She says David’s art classes have been a success because of his ability to engage with others. 

“I love talking to David because I laugh … he’s an amazing and inspiring man.” 

Discover more about what Feros Care is doing to support the power of the arts to promote people’s independence and happiness. 

Read about our online art competition and virtual exhibition running until 13th June 2021 

All-in For Art – Feros Care’s inclusive art competition and exhibition to be held in Gawler, SA 18-19 June 2021 

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