Resilience beyond adversity: Ben's journey to independence

Ben is one of our home and living clients. He recently made the move from shared living to living independently and shared part of his story with us.

Ben is one of our Supported Independent Living (SIL) clients. He recently made the move from shared living to living independently in a brand-new Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) apartment in Melbourne.

He recently shared part of his story with us, highlighting his strength and resilience. Here’s what Ben had to say:

I am Benjamin Thompson and this is my story

“My story changed in 2007 when I was just 23 years old. I was a victim of a “one-punch” attack. That attack caused a catastrophic brain injury and resulted in serious disability.

When I was discharged from the hospital and rehabilitation unit I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t eat and the only body part I could move was my right thumb and eyelids.

I moved to an aged care facility as this was my only option at the time. All the residents in the aged care were much older than me. I relied on PEG feeding and spent most of my time in a small room lying in bed.

In 2011, I moved to Yooralla’s shared accommodation. I started living with other eight residents. My life had to change. With intense therapy and with my strong determination, I started talking, completely stopped PEG feeding and started a modified diet, and slowly regained movements of my extremities.

I enjoyed the freedom and support in Yooralla’s shared accommodation. However, I started facing new challenges; privacy issues, my family couldn’t stay longer with me, environmental stress from other residents and distractions during my therapy.

So, in 2023 life took a new turn and I moved to a new apartment with Yooralla still providing SIL supports. Living in my own apartment means a lot to me. It gives me an opportunity to control my own life choices and proudly live in a safe place that I can call home.

This is my new journey in life and a place I’m hoping to call home for a very long time. Here are some moments to share:

  • A space I don’t have to share, I have control over who supports me and when I need support. I know whoever walks through my front door is for me.
  • A place my sister can visit and stay as long as she likes.
  • A place I can have my therapy supports without distractions from others.
  • A place I can eat my food without distractions from others and fear of choking when I’m not concentrating.

Since moving to my own apartment, I have been involved in the menu and meal preparation, I can eat whatever I’m feeling like at the time and I also have the opportunity to go where I want when I want and for as long as I want.

Since moving I have been to the night football games and have come home around midnight for the first time in a very long time!

I have technology in place to increase my independence to control the lighting, open my doors, turn on my television and change channels and volume and iPad.

Allowing my visitors access to my home

For many years I have used technology such as a house mate to control things like my television, light heater etc. In my new home, we are not able to connect the door intercom system to my tablet as it won't allow access to the lift.

With practice and support from the Yooralla staff at my home who encourage me to try new tasks all the time I am now able to operate the intercom.

I have the time my visitors are going to arrive and make my way over to the intercom.

Maintenance will be coming to my apartment to extend the timing on the intercom as it can sometimes take me a little longer to get to the control.

My next goal: getting out of my wheelchair!

I started practicing walking with my new mobility aid. I am going to work hard on the next phase of my recovery journey.

My story is not going to end – I’m always looking forward. I never give up.

Empowering the community

I really enjoy educating the community and sharing my story. My main message to the community is “Never give up when life poses challenges”. Forgive those who did wrong to us, it will enhance your emotional strength. And that it’s OK to reach out to others in the community when you are in need.”

Words written by Ben Thompson.

Interested in Home and Living supports?

Interested in Home and Living supports?

With a variety of accommodation options for people with disability across Metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria, we can help you find your new home with the right level of support.

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