Former massage therapist to the stars now trapped in bedroom
FOR some people $8500 doesn't mean much, but for Philip Rule it could mean life or death.
The Eastern Heights man recently was granted a decent amount of funding through the National Disability Insurance Scheme but his claim for a stair lift has been rejected leaving him trapped to his bedroom.
Mr Rule gets emotional when he speaks about his current living situation.
The amputee is wheelchair bound and can't make it down the stairs of his high set home.
While it took him three years to get a disability pension support, this year he was successful in his bid for NDIS funding.
He followed the rules engaging an occupational therapist to assess his situation and quotes for a stair lift then applied for some money to help improve his quality of life, but his request was rejected.
"They believe my carers and my father and myself were at risk of getting hurt or more significantly injured and they don't believe that my request for a chair lift is fair and reasonable," Mr Rule said.
Due to being wheelchair bound, Mr Rule can only get from his bed to the upstairs toilet in his house. He can't even get into the bathroom thanks to a seven inch lip he has to get his wheelchair over.
But even though he's only been able to have his first shower in three months, since being hospitalised recently due to a medical condition, he isn't fighting for a bathroom renovation to allow him access.
All he wants is an $8500 stair lift so he can attend doctors appointments, use the kitchen in the family home he shares with his 83 year old father and be able to flee in the event of fire.
"My carers have to bird bath me every day in my bedroom with buckets of soapy water. It's 2019 and I can't have a hot shower.
"Currently I'm isolated to the top floor. I can't access any other rooms.
"If we have a fire in the house, I'm absolutely certainly dead. All because the NDIS is too tight to allow me to have a chair lift.
"Their solution is to look for alternative accommodation. That's not an option, I live at home with my father. I haven't got an income, I'm on a disability support pension."
Mr Rule wants to stay in the home his family has lived in since 1965, surrounded by neighbours and friends that know of his situation and can look in on him from time to time.
"With a simple chair lift in place I can function in my own home. I can access the kitchen, living and dining room and prepare meals. At the moment I'm stranded to the top floor."
What Mr Rule can't fathom is that the decision to deny the funding flies in the face of what the NDIS has set out to achieve.
"The whole NDIS mantra is we want to keep you in our own home environment so you're in your own surroundings."
Mr Rule said moving away would mean having to give up his current support network, and he also wanted to make sure he's still close to his mother who's in a nursing home at Riverview.
"It saddens me greatly and breaks my heart, people are going through this on a much grander scale, hurting more than I am. I'm just someone bold enough to stand up.
"It might completely destroy my NDIS claim, I can live with that if it helps someone else.
"Mum always told me when I was a boy if you believe in something you fight for it 'till the cows come home.
"Mum has dementia, thank God she can't see how they are treating me. She would be making so much noise.
"I worked hard all my life in a coal mine. Now because my health has deteriorated and I need a little help, and I'm getting doors slammed in my face."
Mr Rule was a coal miner before an accident made him choose a new career path.
He became an in demand massage therapist to celebrities including Paris Hilton.
While he said he's had a good life, he's not going to be "denied" his human rights to have a shower and make a meal.
A National Disability Insurance Agency spokesperson said the NDIA continued to work with Mr Rule to ensure he received the reasonable and necessary disability related supports he needs.
"Safety is always a primary concern. For privacy reasons, the NDIA cannot comment on the specifics of individual circumstances," the spokesperson said.
Mr Rule has started a crowd funding campaign to help him cover the cost of the stair lift, to donate visit https://www.facebook.com/donate/254568835456494/.