MICHELE Day has battled the effects of MS for 25 years, but the battle just to be able to return to society in some form has been almost as tough.
At just 58, Ms Day has been a virtual prisoner, living in a home designed to cater for the needs of people much older than her for the past four years.
Her condition sees her unable to walk and she is almost non-verbal.
But despite her obvious challenges, it has still been two years for her to simply get a wheelchair through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) which arrived at her Sebastopol home on Tuesday.
Carer Vanessa Thomson has watched her friend “put through the wringer” in an attempt to get access to a wheelchair.
“She hasn’t been able to get out in the community, she’s been stuck, simply because it’s been such a trial to get access to the NDIS,” Ms Thomson said.
“Michele put in her request as early as she could, but for the last two years, it’s been a process to try and get a wheelchair.
“A lot of people don’t understand how it works, if it wasn’t for our amazing case manager who helped us out in so many ways, she’d still be waiting.”
Ms Thomson said while she understood there were large numbers of people trying to access the service around the country, it needed some tweaking to be more supportive to those with disabilities and their carers.
“It can be a great system, but it has a lot of kinks,” she said,
“You start with a meeting where you have to set goals, for Michele, it was a case of simply being able to get out in the community.
“You’ve then got a separate body which assesses what technology you need, then a separate independent body is used accessed to see if it is suitable for the person, but that is not someone who has ever met Michele, then it goes back for approval.
“We had the situation where a chair had been picked out, but then the independent umpire said no, so we had to go all the way back to start of the process again.
“It’s emotionally exhausting, it’s heartbreaking not being able to tell her how things are going forward, you have to chase it and chase it. I literally only found out on Monday that the chair was coming Tuesday.”
Ms Thomson said Ms Day will now be able to the things she once took for granted.
“She loves to go to the Begonia Festival,” she said. “She also loves to the library, she can’t turn the pages anymore, but she’ll be able to access audio books.
“She’s always been a person who’s thought of others, but as she and her friends have got older and battle their own health problems, she very rarely gets visitors, now she’ll be able to go out and visit people as well.”