24 January 2023

Thanks to Bruce's resilience and the support of the people around him, Bruce's story is now one of joy and hope.

Bruce sits at a table with his hands in the air, smiling at the camera. On the table are birthday cards and gifts.

Extraordinary things can happen when people are supported to be their best selves.

Bruce had lived most of his life with his mum and dad, who loved him dearly. After his mum passed away, he lived by himself, with some support, for four years. Over time, his health deteriorated, and his leg ulcers became a problem, so Bruce was moved into an aged care facility on the advice of treating doctors.

Bruce was attending a day program where his support coordinator Tayla Bangs observed that Bruce did not seem to be getting the care he needed. After confirming Bruce’s aged care placement was not suitable for his needs, Tayla and Bruce’s brother Rodney started to research other housing options for Bruce. After researching and reaching out to his contacts, Tayla sourced a potential home with Life Without Barriers.

Rodney said, “We are so thankful for Tayla’s commitment and all his support. When we visited Hedley Street to see the house and met Gerri, I said to my wife Kay - 'what more could we ask for?' A lovely home environment with loving and professional staff.”

Tayla was determined to move Bruce into his new home as soon as possible. He worked closely with Life Without Barriers' staff and linked everyone together to complete the necessary paperwork.

“Everyone had the same intention: to give Bruce a forever home in a healthy and safe environment."

"Life Without Barriers were amazing – they were transparent, and there was constant communication."

"The process of moving someone into supported living accommodation can sometimes take up to two years. We managed it in six months. It shows what is possible when everyone works as a team and are united by the same purpose,” said Tayla, Support Coordinator from Provide, Connect, Support Coordination (PCSC).

It took Bruce a little time to get adjusted to his new home.

“When Bruce moved in, he slept with the lights on, curtains open, and door wide open. He was very thin, had high levels of anxiety and depression, and was very closed off. He hardly spoke two words,” said Geraldine, Team Leader at the home Bruce now lives in.

Bit by bit, Geraldine and her team worked to build trust with Bruce to help him feel safe in his new home. Over time, Bruce felt more secure at home and was comfortable closing his bedroom curtains and turning the lights off at night. His final breakthrough was being able to sleep soundly with his door closed!

Bruce gained 8 kilos in the first six months of moving in and is now in a healthy weight range. He started learning to cook and enjoys making healthy and tasty food.

Bruce learning to cook with a support worker.

Unfortunately, when he moved in, Bruce’s legs and feet had sores and large ulcers. They were so severe that his doctors said one leg had to be amputated. With ongoing care, support from his Life Without Barriers team, and allied health specialists over many months, Bruce maintained ongoing care and treatment of his legs and feet.

His determination and discipline paid off, and Bruce’s feet and legs are now healthy. One of Bruce’s goals now is to walk again.

Bruce holding up a soft toy cat and smiling at the camera.

New horizons

It is remarkable to see how Bruce’s spirit remains high, given all he’s been through. When asked how he remained resilient, Bruce remembers how his father held his hand very tightly just before his death.

“He was giving me his strength to carry on,” Bruce said quietly. “That was how I had the strength to carry on.”

These days, Bruce’s eyes sparkle brightly as he happily shares the many things he loves. As it turns out, Bruce, who hardly spoke when he first arrived at his current home, is very sociable. He loves his housemates, his support staff and Tayla. He also enjoys spending time with friends at the community centre he attends weekly.

Bruce playing a game of bowling.

Bruce lives in a social house where there’s always something on – whether it’s outings to somewhere fun or house events like Christmas in July, birthdays, championship games, PJ parties and St Patrick’s Day. Bruce often starts the festivities with an opening prayer, saying, “Thank you for the food we eat, for the wonderful day, for where I am. Thank you for making me happy.”

Bruce wearing a santa hat and sitting at a table decorated with Christmas decorations as two people stand behind him.

Bruce and Geraldine are working towards Bruce’s next goal: walking. Bruce was born with clubbed feet, which have worsened over the years. “It may take five years and maybe special shoes, but we will find a way," Geraldine said.

"Life will always throw challenges, but we will always find a solution.”

Rodney said, “Bruce is in the best health he’s been in 15 years. I’m thankful for the commitment, support and dedication of Tayla and Gerri - two outstanding professionals. I am very satisfied that I can leave this planet knowing that Bruce is in good hands now.”

Bruce wearing a hat and sitting at the waterfront.

Today Bruce is smiling and excited about life. It is hard to imagine that he is the same person who moved into Life Without Barriers' Supported Independent Living house months before.

A person's story is precious. We take storytelling seriously. Sometimes people are able to tell their own story, and we love that. We always make sure they give us their ok, and we will always honour the trust placed in us to bring their story forward.

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