“I wouldn’t be here if not for NDIS”

That was the response from Swan Hill District Hospital Jacaranda Lodge resident, Martin Hill, when I asked how it was for him as a resident at the 30-bed lodge at Nyah West.

“If it wasn’t for NDIS, I’d be much worse off”, he says, commenting that life is easier for him in the Lodge community, as he feels he knows everyone. “At the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, I didn’t know anyone”.

“I’m the youngest here, there’s a big age difference between me and most of the other residents,” Martin says with a big grin. He’s in his early 60s and suffering various health issues. Much of each day is spent in bed, watching television, which he enjoys enormously.

Martin points proudly to his new motorised wheelchair which is a real highlight for him, and greatly increases his mobility. “Although I could be a better driver, I keep running in to walls and doors which people do complain about,” he chuckles.” Sometimes it has a mind of its own, but I should probably slow down and learn to steer better”.

And he takes himself on outings – to Nyah West shops (in his chair) or in to Swan Hill (by taxi). He’s currently organising a trip to Deniliquin, to see all his family. He travels by (NDIS-subsidised) taxi and spends the day with his children and grandchildren.

The father of four is surrounded by pictures of family in a spacious room where his spiffy-looking motorised wheelchair has pride of place. He has a lot of praise for staff at Jacaranda Lodge – “The nursing staff do a real good job; in fact, I’m pretty pleased with everyone,” he says.

He reserves his highest praise for SHDH occupational therapist, Judy Irvin, who he tells me started the process to get him the wheel chair.

He tells me the meals at Jacaranda are “beautiful” although when I probe a bit more, he tells me he often bypasses the provided meals and enjoys take-away, pub or café meals. And he still smokes. He sometimes thinks he should stop, but he finds it too difficult.

He’s been at Jacaranda Lodge for about 3 years, which means he’s lived all his life in or around Swan Hill – his family lived at Natya when he was born, and he attended school at Piangil and Vinifera. He worked for Swan Hill Engineering where he says he was extremely well looked after, before health issues forced him to give up work.

I can see Martin is content, well-liked and receiving expert care at Jacaranda Lodge but I want to know if he thinks there’s room for improvement.

“I’d like to go on more outings with the group. We went to Tooleybuc Hotel once – several residents, some staff and the Lodge handyman drove us… it was excellent.

“I sort of do that myself… I head in to Boos Café or the Commercial – which is where I proposed to my wife. But it’s more fun in the group” he says.

Thanks for sharing your story, Martin. We are feeding it back to staff involved as part of SHDH’s ongoing work to ensure continuous improvement, connected care and best experience for all.

This story has been collected as part of the Swan Hill District Health Consumer Stories Project.
If you have a story to tell, or would like to share your experience, please contact the
Quality, Experience and Safety team on 03 5033 9894 or feedback@shdh.org.au