Luke’s special birthday in his new home

Published 7:00am 1 July 2021

Luke’s special birthday in his new home
Words by Jodie Powell

A North Lakes man has celebrated his 40th birthday with family and friends in his own home for the first time in years.

Diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease just weeks before his 30th birthday, Luke has spent the past six years living in an aged care facility at Clontarf, but this month moved into a complex of seven two-bedroom apartments custom-built by charity Youngcare.

The apartments will be home to 14 young people who have been living in inappropriate housing such as aged care, institutions, hospital rooms or at home with ageing parents.

Luke’s aunt and advocate Kaye says her nephew is excited to have found a home with other young people and about being able to make choices about how he lives – including how to celebrate his milestone birthday.

“It’s the little things that Luke has experienced since living here that make a huge difference,” Kaye says.

“He has been on a train for the first time in seven years.

“He has been into the city - he even gets to go outside at night-time and see the stars.”

The complex has been custom-built to accommodate young people with high needs and is staffed around the clock.

Life-changing move

Luke’s special birthday in his new home

After his diagnosis, the disease quickly took everything from Luke.

He suffered a rapid decline in his ability to walk, speak and live independently.

Luke was forced to live in aged care because there was nowhere else that could provide him with the level of care he needed.

Kaye says while Luke’s care was of a high standard and the staff were extremely caring, the constraints of the necessary routines associated with aged care took their toll on her nephew.

“(Aged Care) have done the best they can for Luke but being a young person, he wouldn’t engage in any of the activities whatsoever.

“He wouldn’t even go out into the dining room. The poor kid just lived in his room.”

Kaye says the move to the Youngcare apartments is life-changing for Luke and allows him to do the things others his age take for granted – like going to bed at a time of his choosing, having breakfast when he feels like it, going to concerts, and enjoying a rum and Coke.

New era in accommodation

Youngcare CEO Anthony Ryan says developments such as North Lakes will pave the way for a new era in aspirational disability accommodation, with a solid pipeline of 130 residences to be launched over the next three years across the country, including one at Rothwell.

The Rothwell facility will be a share house for three young people, with bedrooms and bathrooms for each and a communal kitchen and living space. It will also provide round-the clock care for residents.

“We’re working hard to redefine the concept of integrated living and provide a voice that empowers change in the wider disability sector and ensures the 12,000 young Australians with high care needs – 2500 of whom are Queenslanders – feel at home and free to participate in their community,” Anthony says.

“Youngcare allows them to choose the lives they have always wanted to live, it allows them to thrive – young people want to live young lives.”

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