Polio survivors start new life with NDIS support

Published 5:00am 26 November 2023

Polio survivors start new life with NDIS support
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

Polio survivors Hina and Anil Jeeyani are working towards building a new life in Mango Hill thanks to support offered to them through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The married couple, who migrated to Australia, contracted the polio virus when they were both around 10 months old and living in India in the 1980s.

“We had a fever at the start and then our body parts were affected. My left hand and left leg got affected, got weak compared to right hand and right leg. My wife’s legs were affected,” Anil says.

“Our parents did lots of exercises on us to recover from polio, as there was no medication for such things.

“It helped us a lot in our early life, but as time went on, our body needed more support for our daily life activities.”

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis.

The couple, who started their new life Australia in 2015, realised they needed more assistance when everyday tasks became too challenging.

As they have aged, the effects of having poliomyelitis have increased, dramatically reducing their functional capacity, weakening their bodies, and causing chronic pain.

Anil has limited use of his left leg and arm, while his wife has difficulty walking and standing, even for short periods of time.

In late 2022, the couple received assistance to apply for and implement their NDIS funding from Carers Queensland, the state’s largest NDIS partner in the community.

They are now both on the scheme and say the support they receive is dramatically improving their quality of life.

Both say they no longer feel as isolated and are slowly becoming more connected to their community, something that’s important for them as people with a multicultural background.

“Before the NDIS we had many challenges. My wife and I struggled to keep up with our daily tasks and chores, including cleaning and lawn maintenance,” Anil says.

“It was hard as a single earner and having one dependent to get everything done when our physical health was in such decline.”

Thanks to NDIS supports, Anil and Hina attend hydrotherapy and occupational therapy, which is helping them to achieve their goal of improving their functional strength. Visits to a podiatrist are also funded through the NDIS.

“Hydrotherapy helps us a lot, it provides strength to our muscles, so we feel less pain nowadays,” Anil says.

“We also have day-to-day support to help us with house cleaning, garden and lawn maintenance and other essential chores. This means we are no longer stuck at home in weekends and can spend time in the community and being more social.”

The NDIS also funds assistive technology such as orthotics, which reduces the couple’s joint pain and fatigue and increases their mobility.

Anil says his long-term goals are to strengthen his muscles and weak body parts so he can increase his stamina and do more physical work without further damaging his body.

“I also want to be independent and be more social,” Anil says.

“My wife is now actively looking for a new job. She has done her Masters in accounting in India and since arriving in Australia has completed a Certificate II in English and a Certificate III in Business administration.”

Hina, who used to volunteer at her son’s school, said she’s very keen to use her NDIS supports to help her develop skills to improve her overall health and wellbeing and grow her mobility.

“I would like to improve my physical strength to obtain a paid work which will increase my independence so that I can support my family financially,” she says.

Inspiring others

The couple have shared their story in recognition of Disability Action Week (Nov 25 – Dec 2) and International Day of People with Disability (Dec 3).

Disability Action Week is an opportunity to recognise the one in five people in our region living with disability and the role they play in our communities.

International Day of People with Disability aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with a disability.

Find out more

Carers Queensland can support you to find out more about the NDIS, to apply for funding and to help you get started with the NDIS.

If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can help you identify and link to options for support in your community.

You can also contact Carers Queensland by phoning 1300 999 636, sending an email to [email protected], or sign up to its LAC Connect app here.

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