Man wearing large grey jumper standing in a gold course, holding a club

Greg Davison and his son, Kevin, live together in their beautiful Whitsundays community.

In late 2021, they said a sad goodbye to wife and mother Sally; a well-known Elder in her Indigenous community outside Alice Springs, and a talented artist.

Sally – who passed away from cancer just two weeks shy of her 50th wedding anniversary with Greg – is missed in their community, where she was a regular at the museum and cafes.

Most of all, she is missed at home, especially by Kevin, who has a severe intellectual disability and can struggle to process his emotions and new situations.

After Sally died, Greg says he faced “massive changes” in how he cared for their son, and the duo were struggling to cope physically and emotionally.

It was recommended they organise an NDIS plan to allow Kevin to foster new relationships and a positive and productive outlook for life.

Relationship building

Greg – who grew up in the Whitsundays – says seeking support and adopting a plan have provided immediate benefits for himself, and especially for Kevin.

“He’s doing really well. Now, he goes to the physio once a fortnight which has strengthened his movements.”

Kevin is also able to attend regular speech therapy sessions to help improve his communication skills.

“I don’t think he’s ever going to be really fluent, but he certainly has improved.”

Kevin is hesitant to speak unless he knows a person well, but Greg has found that regular speech therapy sessions have helped his son improve his interactions with others while in his home and in his day-to-day living.

“His general demeanour has improved out of sight. He’s not a violent person at all, but he can be very stubborn and go silent and say or do nothing.

“If he gets upset he just goes quiet. He’s always been very kind and respectful.”

Generally, Kevin wakes up early before sunrise but now, rather than not interacting, he’s initiating chats with his dad in the mornings.

“For the first time in his life, he is coming out and saying, ‘Good morning, how are you?’ Which is really, really good.

“And now, when he leaves the house, he’s saying ‘bye’ or ‘see you later’."

Greg says Kevin has always been well-mannered, but the extra support and encouragement to improve his communication is motivating him and providing him with a different vocabulary to use.

Two middle aged men on a boat, holding a wakeboard

Love and supports

Kevin requires 24-hour care, but his dad says he’s ‘so easy’ to look after. Greg says Kevin knew that his mother was unwell, and he’s hoping that in some ways Kevin is aware that his mother is not around.

“I think he’s come to terms with it. Recently he’s been showing me things, and he’s been saying, ‘Oh, mum gave me that.’”

Kevin and Greg are living south of Proserpine, and the NDIS supports Kevin is receiving allow him to access his community, spend time with his peers, and increase his independence.

“I had retired in 2008, and we travelled around Australia in a van from then. Sally and I had an agreement that if either of us died we’d buy a unit, so that’s what I did here.”

Greg says that prior to receiving NDIS support, Kevin had “an existence”. “But now he has a life.”

NDIS has been critical

Stacey Atkinson, Feros Care Local Area Coordinator (LAC), says NDIS supports have been “critical” in allowing Kevin and Greg to find a new path in life together.

Short-term accommodation has meant they can each have some time alone, and community access activities have been facilitated through RADS Whitsunday, an NDIS provider which offers lifestyle, health and disability support services via group-based activities and short-term accommodation.

Stacey says she began working with Kevin and Greg while Sally was receiving palliative care. At the time, Kevin began taking part in some social activities which allowed Greg to care for Sally.

“Kevin was able to spend a few days at home, a few days staying with his aunty, and a few days at respite with RADS Whitsunday.”

RADS has been able to provide Kevin with a range of social activities, including time with people his own age.

“He’s really come out of his shell, and now he knows what’s happening, he knows his routine and he’s happy to leave his dad and go and do things,” Stacey says.

Because Kevin has had continuous support with RADS, she says he’s been able to build confidence, trust and deepen his relationships with staff and others at the service.

“They’re people he is around day-to-day, and he has developed his own unique way of communicating with them.”

She says his ability to enjoy independent activities has also flourished.

“They do group-based activities and he’s gone sailing, fishing and camping without his dad.

“He has built up a really good rapport with that service provider – sometimes it can take a while for people to click.”

Daily respite programs at RADS allow Kevin to continue his capacity-building life skills including learning to cook for himself and developing his social skills along with activities such as arts, crafts, woodwork, gardening, cooking, social activities, going to the beach, trips to the park, and shopping malls.

Middle aged blonde woman and man each holding a guitar, sitting on two couches

Stepping stones to celebration

Stacey says watching Kevin and Greg embrace the supports available, enhance their lifestyle and being able to be part of the team guiding the duo along the way is “why I love doing my job”.

“It doesn’t matter if it seems like they’re taking small steps – they’re huge steps for the participants and it makes me want to celebrate.”

Kevin’s NDIS plan is continuing with stable supports and coordination with Feros Care, service providers and allied health professionals.

“We’re all a team, and we’re all work in a person-centred way. And we’re seeing these wonderful outcomes.”

A longer-term goal for Kevin is supported independent living accommodation, and Stacey says Feros Care and ongoing NDIS supports will help him towards achieving this.

For more information on Feros Care and how we can provide support in accessing the NDIS, click here.

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