New Coast life for man trapped in hospital for two years
A MAN trapped in hospital for nearly two years after suffering a brain aneurism will begin a new life on Monday at a Sunshine Coast retreat that will provide him with 24-hour care.
Steven McDonald, 52, has finally secured a funding package from Disability Services Queensland that will allow him to leave the Princess Alexandra Hospital acquired brain injury rehabilitation unit where his level of care has been progressively reduced.
But BE Lifestyle Retreats founder Belinda Wardlaw, whose organisation will now take responsibility for his care, said there 64 others like him trapped in Brisbane hospitals and large numbers in hospitals in Cairns and Townsville.
She has identified at least six in similar circumstances on the Sunshine Coast.
Ms Wardlaw said it was costing the government more to keep these people where and achieved less satisfactory outcomes than were available in the community.
The problem, she said, was that government departments did not cross fund to break up a bottleneck that was clogging the health system.
As a result high care physical disability patients were occupying rehabilitation beds when they should be being moved back into the community. Queued up behind them in high care hospital beds were patients waiting to access rehabilitation.
"There is not enough money in the Disability Services budget to move people out. They don't cross finance (between departments),'' Ms Wardlaw said.
"But its still costing millions of dollars out of the health care budget.''
She said patients' families should not have to fight bureaucracy to get reasonable outcomes for them.
"It shouldn't be that hard,'' she said. "It's just a lottery system for patients.
Ms Wardlaw is concerned that the true level of unmet need in the disability sector was being masked and may have implications for the resources to be made available to Queensland through the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
"If they're in a bed their needs are being counted as met when it isn't,'' she said.
A survey conducted by the Public Advocate last year found 283 people with disabilities were long-term patients of Queensland hospitals and health facilities.
Public Advocate Jodie Cook found that while Queensland rid itself of its pre-1980s institutions for the disabled many were still trapped in institutionalised settings.
Ms Wardlaw said when Mr McDonald's daughter Jody could not get through to the Disability Services Minister about her father's plight, she had written to the Premier on her behalf and that of 64 others in Brisbane hospitals.
"I'm pleased the Premier could see how important this is and cleard independent funding for Mr McDonald.''
Mr McDonald, who had previously only been offered accommodation in a Cerebral Palsy League facility at Figtree Pocket which only provided care from 9am to 6pm and no rehabilitation services.
He will now receive 24-hour care in a home environment backed by the full suite of services his condition requires at a fraction of the cost to keep him in hospital for the past two years.