Long-term disability patients continue the wait for freedom

Jody and brother Brendan McDonald have struggled for two years to get their father, Steven McDonald, disability support accommodation.
Jody and brother Brendan McDonald have struggled for two years to get their father, Steven McDonald, disability support accommodation. Ava Benny-Morrison

MORE than 100 spinal injury patients who have been waiting in hospital for disability support funding will finally move back into the community.

But for Queensland's remaining long-term patients with disabilities calling hospital wards home, including one Mackay man, the wait for freedom continues.

The State Budget allocated $26.4 million over four years to transition 108 people with spinal cord injuries from the Princess Alexandra Hospital into the community.

As the patients from the Brisbane-based spinal unit leave, Mackay sports massage therapist Steven McDonald, who is in the neighbouring brain injury unit, will stay.

The father of two sustained an intellectual disability after suffering a brain aneurism and debilitating strokes in 2011.

Unable to get the care he needed in Mackay, doctors moved him to the PA Hospital where he has lived for almost 18 months awaiting disability support funding to transition into the community.

Mr McDonald's hospital accommodation costs taxpayers more than $1000 a day, despite his family finding a private disability provider on the Sunshine Coast for a third of the price.

But the 52-year-old's situation is not unheard of.

APN Newsdesk reported last month that based on 2012 figures, 283 long-term patients with a disability were living in hospital and health service facilities around the state.

Some long-term patients stay in hospital for ongoing rehabilitation while others have nowhere else to move to because they do not have government funding for care or can afford it.

Asked why the new funding allocation was directed to patients in the Brisbane-based spinal injury unit only, Disability Services Minister Tracy Davis said the government was aware spinal injury patients had critical needs.


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