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Support for people living with spinal and neuro conditions.

Imagine sustaining a life-changing spinal cord injury only to be discharged from hospital home to where there are limited or no peer support services available.

This is the reality for hundreds of people living in the Hunter region and why Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) was founded more than 50 years ago by a group of patients unable to leave hospital due to a lack of community services.

Operating across Australia, SCIA is a for-purpose organisation working to maximise independence for people with a spinal cord injury and other neurological conditions at every stage of their life journey.

Two men in wheelchairs

SCIA Peer and Family Support Manager, Rob Wynn, said support after discharge from hospital is a critical time for learning to live with an injury and for community integration.

“Experiencing a spinal cord injury is a life-changing event that impacts every aspect of a person’s life,” Rob said.

“Data from the Hunter Spinal Cord Injury unit estimates 400 people in the area are living with a spinal cord injury and expects between 10 to 30 new incidents to occur every year.

“Many other people return home to the region following acute care and rehabilitation in Sydney.”

With half their clients based in regional NSW, SCIA will use $121,000 in funding from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation to expand the reach of their Peer and Family Support program already available in Sydney, Wollongong and Canberra.

“Currently, our main support is focused on inpatient services at John Hunter Hospital,” Rob said.

This grant will enable us to employ and train a local coordinator to deliver our Peer and Family Support program here in the Hunter region.

“Our program focuses on support delivered by coordinators with a lived experience and has demonstrated outcomes that improve overall wellbeing, adjustment and independence for clients.”

Taking a holistic approach to care, the local coordinator will develop a range of non-clinical activities including education seminars, group social activities and wheelchair skills training; along with providing one-on-one peer support delivered online and in person.

“Our partnership with the Charitable Foundation takes us closer to achieving out vision of creating a world where people with spinal or neuro conditions and their loved ones can thrive.” Rob said.

About Spinal Cord Injuries Australia

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia is a for-purpose organisation working for people living with spinal cord injury and other neurological conditions.

Their mission is to ensure that high quality, relevant services are readily available for people with spinal cord injury and other physical disabilities.