How apartment changed life of man with MS
TERRAN Hassall is living the best life he can, with a new lease on life and one filled with independence and dignity.
Since the Toowoomba man moved into MS Queensland's first Project Dignity complex in Springfield, he has been able to enjoy what those without multiple sclerosis take for granted.
The little things, such as choosing what to watch on TV, deciding what he wants to have for dinner.
"I love having my own apartment with excellent care and I have made new friends here now," he said.
"I feel like a person now I have my own Project Dignity 120 apartment at Springfield.
"I am loving having my independence and can live my life how I like."
Mr Hassall was forced to move away from his family in the Darling Downs when he was diagnosed with MS a decade ago.
The disease stripped the fiercely independent artist of his mobility, and his need for high-quality and supported care became vital.
There was no age-suitable housing in Toowoomba for the then-34-year-old, and there still isn't.
So he moved to Brisbane and became one of the long-term MS Queensland residents before being the first to move into the Project Dignity complex where he now loves.
His mother, Julia, visits him each week and, since Mr Hassall moved into his own state-of-the-art funded apartment in July this year, she has watched him embrace a new outlook.
"I like being able to visit Terran in his own apartment," she said.
"It's more personal than just a room. I like that there are always friendly helpful MS Queensland carers on his floor and he is always smiling when I visit.
"I believe Terran's quality of life has definitely improved."
Mr Hassall has made new friends and he now feels at home, so he was unsure if he would move back to Toowoomba when suitable housing became available.
But he backed calls for other people to have more options.
"There should be more of these everywhere so that people can feel like they are real people," he said.
"It was really disruptive for my family and me when I had to uproot and leave because I needed high-need care.
"To have had a choice to stay in my home town all those years ago would have been priceless."
For his mother, though, it would be a way to bring the family back together.
"Toowoomba is where his brother and his family life," she said.
"He would have more visits from family and myself if he lived closer to home in Toowoomba."
IT IS the housing crisis that goes deeper than prices and land values.
The lack of age-appropriate care homes for people with multiple sclerosis and other progressive neurological diseases leaves residents with few choices but to move into aged-care homes.
MS Queensland chairman Roger Burrell said the crisis was not limited to Toowoomba but felt right across the state.
"Right now in Queensland, 1340 people with a disability under the age of 65 live permanently in residential aged care," he said.
"Of those people, some 119 are under the age of 50.
"Sadly, and despite the collective best efforts of many people and organisations in recent years, the number of people living in inappropriate aged care has actually increased in Queensland.
"Hundreds of people are still being forced from their homes into aged care because there simply isn't anywhere else for them to go.
"Thousands more are being cared for at home, in an environment not suited to high-care needs, because of the lack of suitable options."
Mr Burrell said the housing supported more than those with MS and PNDs, but their families.
"Our state is in the grip of a high-needs housing crisis," he said.
"Not just people affected by progressive neurological diseases, but their families and friends.
"In many communities, including Toowoomba and the Darling Downs region, there is a dire lack of affordable, accessible, age-appropriate and independent housing for people living with progressive neurological disease like multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease.
"Housing that empowers residents to live an independent life, providing the expert and specialist care they need, when needed."