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Bev Warn used to joke with her kids about them putting her in an aged care home once she was 90, but then a life-altering injury saw her forced into one at just 52. It had all started several years prior when she fell down some steps at the back of her house and the severity of her injury had taken some time to be detected. Eventually though, that seemingly insignificant fall would completely change her life, rendering her a paraplegic. But the Orange resident’s run of bad luck wasn’t over yet. Three days after receiving the devastating diagnosis, she was put in an ambulance and taken to a nursing home. The speed with which it all transpired, was an additional cause for distress, with the then-52-year-old not even having time to collect anything from her house. She arrived at the facility with just the clothes on her back. “I was just so shocked. I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I was crying, even the nursing unit manager had tears, and at 52, living in a nursing home was the furthest thing from my mind. I actually thought it was a mistake, a miscommunication.” Almost immediately, her mental health plummeted and over the course of her stay she was “in and out of hospital dealing with depression”. “I just wasn’t coping with the loss of all my physical independence, and then being placed in a nursing home at 52,” she said. Then one night a friend saw a news segment about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) providing accommodation for people like Ms Warn: Australians under the age of 65 who have a permanent and significant disability. With help from a support coordinator, Ms Warn began the arduous 18-month process of navigating the complex territory of Specialist Disability Accommodation. Now she has finally left the aged care facility and moved into a home of her own with the vital equipment she needs to live independently. “You know, I hadn’t even used a toaster in ages! It’s just so fantastic to be able to go to my own fridge, decide what I’m going to eat, and when I’m going to eat it,” she said. “I can go into town and back with no dramas; I can reach things I could never reach before and I can actually get my own clothes out now,” she added with a laugh. “These things may sound small, but it’s one of the most basic independent things you can do. A friend said to me, ‘The NDIS has really changed your life.’ I said, ‘Oh no, it saved it.'”. Ms Warn urges anyone unsure about navigating the NDIS to get a support coordinator. “I thought I just needed a new wheelchair. I didn’t realise the intensity of what I could achieve through the NDIS.”

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