Iopu builds capacity after finding the right supports

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From exercise and strengthening in the water, to exploring Torres Strait’s Thursday Island, NDIS participant Iopu Uta is on a path to achieving his goals.

The 26-year-old, who lives with cerebral palsy, has found the right supports for his continued capacity building through the NDIS’ Rural and Remote Strategy.

Iopu in the pool

The Rural and Remote Strategy assists First Nations’ participants like Iopu to access the Scheme and find supports. 

Iopu’s NDIS supports are delivered through disability service provider, My Pathway. Iopu has access to assistive technology such as his wheelchair, and he connects with specialists for improved mobility.

Xtremecare Australia coordinator, Sophie, coordinates all the supports Iopu needs, including physiotherapy, speech therapy, and access to a dietician. 

Iopu works with occupational therapist, Dion, and physiotherapist, Brendan, from provider, On Country Allied Health.

They help Iopu, who is non-verbal and has limited mobility, with standing and walking unassisted.

Iopu and support worker David continue his exercises while working on his mobility in the water, through weekly aquatic therapy sessions. 

“We didn’t want him to lose all of his mobility and have him (permanently) in his wheelchair,” Iopu’s mother Ethel said.

“So, he’s up at the pool once-a-week and he’s been doing really good. There’s a lot of improvement, and he’s much more stable in his balance.

“That’s what I’m looking for at the moment… We used to assist and hold him a lot when he was standing, but he’s a lot more upright now and moving around a lot faster than before.”

Ethel said flexibility in how Iopu was being looked after had made a huge difference in and out of the home.  

“Iopu loves an outing, so, they’ll go out for drives, go to the beach, down to the park, and for walks through town,” she said.

“They also help with doing his laundry and bedding, cleaning his room and doing activities with him.”

Engaging with the right supports to suit their individual and cultural needs has been key in Iopu’s – and his family’s – progress and wellbeing.

With support workers in the home 5 days a week, Ethel is also now able to work full-time. 

Ethel said peace of mind in knowing that Iopu was safe and engaged, was a big relief. 

“I work for the Torres Strait Island Aged Care Association as a support worker, and I’m very busy. Knowing Iopu is being looked after… I really appreciate it, and it helps a lot,” she said.

“We can shuffle shifts and there’s always someone there for Iopu, so, I’ve been very happy.”

For the long-term, Ethel said home modifications to have a ramp installed at the rear of home had been approved in Iopu’s NDIS plan. 

Providing access to the backyard, Ethel said the ramp access would help to continue building Iopu’s capacity further.

“We want to set up tables and activities for him out the back and get him walking around a bit… that’s the plan,” she said.

“Long-term, we also want him walking unassisted. It will take time, but we will keep working on it.

“It’s always been a struggle, but through the NDIS, it’s been positive and I’m very happy.”