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Finding a community with an intellectual disability

Stephen – who lives with an intellectual disability – is 53 years old and found himself in need of some additional love and support when his mother passed away five years ago.

“We found that he wasn’t eating properly. He was going to the supermarket, but without someone to help with a shopping list he just wasn’t buying the food to cook proper meals. Frozen pies and eggs became a staple,” his sister,
Marilyn Agnew, says.

“We would try and encourage him to eat better, but fresh vegetables and fruit would often go mouldy and eventually inedible. He just couldn’t do it on his own. Stephen lost a lot of weight and was really struggling.”

However, Stephen’s siblings recognized that it was important for their brother to remain in the home where he felt secure. Marilyn explained the situation to the Feros Care team in Townsville and was connected to a provider and the necessary supports
through the NDIS to allow Stephen to live the life he wants.

“Everything then fell into place. It all takes time but at least we knew there was help out there and that he could stay at home where he has lived for a long time.

“We felt he could stay in the house on his own as long as there were carers to help with the shopping, meal preparation and keeping the house clean.”

Support for Stephen

Stephen’s support team now includes workers who assist him with weekly grocery shopping, preparing weekly meal plans, cooking and help with house-cleaning.

“He absolutely loves having the ladies come because they’ve bonded very well. They’re like his close friends and it’s comforting to the family to know that he is now receiving such professional care and attention.”

Stephen says the network is “good”, and he enjoys taking part in Tuesday’s cooking morning and trying new recipes.

“If I can do it – learning how to cook new meals – other people can do it. It’s good to give it a go.”

Marilyn says that with the help of his NDIS supports, Stephen’s diet has improved, the house is clean, and he has achieved independence and an active social life.

“His confidence in himself has skyrocketed. It’s just incredible what the whole thing has done for him.”


Man in his fifties wearing a Volkswagen Beetle T-shirt, holding a grey dog by the collar

Stephen and Muz

Working life

As a valued employee at Aussie Powersports, Stephen has continued to develop his skills and confidence.

He works at the family-owned business – a wholesale company that specialises in accessories and tyres for All-Terrain Vehicles – for four hours a day, five days a week.

Stephen has his own designated area in the warehouse where he helps to sort and pack the deliveries.

“He has his tasks to do and there are arrows to mark where he stacks things which are to be picked up by freight companies and he takes things to the post office,” Marilyn says.

“All the staff work well in a team together and Stephen is part of that team. He feels productive and it’s important for him to be able to tell people that he’s going to work.”

Marilyn says the job gives Stephen something to look forward to and not only makes him feel productive, but the responsibility of wearing a uniform and representing his workplace boosts his self-esteem.

Fun, games and happiness

With support, the groundwork for socialising in his community has been established for Stephen and he now has confidence to go out and see people beyond just his family members.

Recently, he even travelled from his home town of Charters Towers to the new grounds in Townsville to watch the Cowboys play their last home game against Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.

On an average week day, he might go out on his own to the local bar and grill for dinner, watch sport on the television and chat to other locals.

Marilyn says, “If there is a procession, fete or community event, Stephen will happily attend by himself and enjoy the interaction with other people.

“It is wonderful to see and it’s something he would not have done before. Not only has Stephen’s health and wellbeing improved, but the help and extra support from the NDIS has nurtured his self-confidence and his sense of independence.”

Marilyn says it’s reassuring to know that Stephen is feeling connected every day and is able to take better care of himself.

“And he’s happy, and you can’t put a price on that. We know that he’s well looked after – the NDIS has done an absolutely incredible job for Stephen.”

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