Austin Street celebrates its third year
26-Aug-2013 3:02 PM
August 2013 marks the three-year anniversary of the opening of Villa Maria’s Austin Street, Victoria’s first purpose-specific residence for young people with an acquired brain injury resulting in high and complex care needs.
Since that time, the staff and residents of Austin Street have become a real part of the local Alphington community and created a welcoming, supportive and comfortable home. Most importantly, they’ve created a place that provides specialist age-appropriate services to meet the ongoing needs and aspirations of young people (aged 18 to 50) who may otherwise be living in nursing homes.
Louise Reed, aged 49, moved to Austin Street six months ago. Her story reflects the random nature of acquired brain injuries; that they can happen to any healthy person, at any time of their lives.
Louise, a mother of three, was on a cruise with some girlfriends when she experienced a stroke.
“When I got home my daughters noticed that I was acting strange so they called an ambulance. I’d also had some seizures and had no recollection of my holiday.”
The stroke has affected Louise’s mobility, short-term memory and eye sight. She currently uses a wheelchair and needs support with everyday tasks. Following the stroke, Louise lived temporarily in general wards at Footscray and Sunshine Hospitals. The next likely step was placement in an aged care residence until a place was offered at Austin Street.
Louise admits it was hard at first accepting Austin Street as her new home, and saying goodbye to her independence. “But now I realise it’s a good place to be. You’ve got your own room with your own space and the staff are great, they’ve got all the time in the world for you.” Access to an individual rehabilitation program including physiotherapy has helped to improve Louise’s physicality. “I’m getting close to being able to stand and I can already sit up on the edge of the bed,” she said. “My main goal is to be able to walk again.”
Also important to Louise’s move to Austin Street has been the improvement in her emotional wellbeing. Before her stroke, Louise was studying to become a Teacher’s Aid. With this on-hold while she recovers, the team at Austin Street have arranged for Louise to begin a volunteer placement at nearby St Anthony’s Primary School, assisting Prep and Grade 1 students with their reading.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Louise said. “Just being back out in the community and connecting with the children.”
Austin Street Team Leader Christelle Bogaars said the ten residents and staff had formed strong connections with many people and groups out in the community including neighbours, store owners, cafe staff, the local pub, bowls club and of course St Anthony’s Primary School, which holds fundraising activities for Austin Street.
“It’s been an important part of therapy and rehabilitation for the residents here; proving to them that they are still a part of their community and can still build relationships with people other than care staff,” Christelle said.
Christelle and Louise joined around 50 other staff members, family members and friends for a party on Friday, August 23 to celebrate Austin Street’s third birthday.
“It was lovely to come together and reflect on the positive milestones made over this time,” Christelle said. “Residents have achieved goals such as being able to walk to nearby Station Street and back with a frame, walking for the first time post-injury, and of course Louise’s volunteer position at the school. We are a close knit team of staff and residents who have really become like a family. We look forward to seeing many more goals achieved over the years ahead.”
Interviews and photograph opportunities are available upon request.
Media enquiries: call Cassie Zlonzak on (03) 9855 7729 or 0406 382 560.
About Villa Maria
Villa Maria is a values–based, not-for-profit organisation providing quality services and life enhancing opportunities for older people, children and adults with a disability, their families and carers.
Established in 1907 as the Catholic Braille Writers Association, Villa Maria has grown to become one of Victoria’s largest not-for-profit providers of disability, education and senior services with more than 60 programs supporting 5,000 people across the state and southern New South Wales.
Every day of the year, 1,100 staff and 300 volunteers respond to the unique needs of the people and families we support with openness, innovation, creativity and flexibility.