Roberts Christmas: home alone and trapped in his bed
By MARY MANN firstname.lastname@example.org IMAGINE lying in bed, hardly able to move, knowing you rely utterly on your carer to help you. But no-one turns up.
That's what happened to Ballina man Robert Hall on Christmas Day not the surprise the quadriplegic man was hoping for.
Robert was expecting a nurse from the ParaQuad Association of NSW to arrive about 8am and get him out of bed, as usual.
But as the clock ticked past 8.30am and he was still stuck in bed, he knew he had been left to fend for himself.
Without assistance, Robert cannot even get out of bed. His carer usually gets him dressed and into his wheelchair each morning, prepares his meals and returns twice more each day to check up on him and help with household chores and personal hygiene.
He has very limited use of his arms but cannot move the rest of his body.
Robert and his sister Carolyn Cromie, who lives near Sydney, said they asked for a nurse to care for Robert at Christmas.
But a spokesperson from ParaQuad said Robert had not requested the care, which was why no-one turned up.
"The only thing I could think of was to call my friend Dave, whose house I was supposed to go to for Christmas," Robert said. "Otherwise I'd be stuck in bed all day with no water or food.
"It's happened before a few times, where they've had no staff to help me, and I just thought 'they've done it again'."
Robert has a phone at his bed which he can reach in case of an emergency.
He used it to call Dave, who went straight over.
"I'm really grateful to Dave, he's been such a good help," he said.
Robert's usual carer from ParaQuad was on Christmas leave and he was told that because of a staff shortage, there would be no-one available to help him on Christmas Day.
He would have to find someone else or stay at Ferguson Lodge, a special wing of Lidcombe Hospital in Sydney.
The thought of spending Christmas with strangers saddened Robert, who was intent on sharing it with friends.
Carolyn set about working something out, and after numerous phone calls, said she received confirmation from ParaQuad that a nurse would arrive at Robert's place on Christmas morning.
"The lady said 'problem solved', and that she was sending two people out to look after him," she said.
Robert said it was 'disgusting they don't have proper services' for people in his situation.
However, ParaQuad attendant care manager Dragan Vlaski said ParaQuad had done nothing wrong.
"It is true no-one turned up, but that was because Robert did not request a carer for Christmas Day. He said a friend would look after him," he said.
ParaQuad is a not-for-profit, partially Government-funded association which provides vital services to people with spinal cord injuries.