Donald Mortiss has moved to an apartment in Springfield from an aged care facility thanks to the NDIS.
Donald Mortiss has moved to an apartment in Springfield from an aged care facility thanks to the NDIS.

Move from aged care to own apartment saved my life

BEING able to move out of an aged care facility and into his own apartment has been a "lifesaver" for 52-year-old Don Mortiss.

The move, thanks to funding from the National Disability Insurance Scheme, has given Mr Mortiss more independence and a new lease on life.

He is writing a memoir and back playing the French horn with hopes of joining a community band.

Mr Mortiss, who has Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, moved to a high needs independent living apartment in Springfield as part of MS Queensland's Best Life Project.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety's interim report found there was a lack of will and effort to address the issues that have left young people in aged care.

Commissioners found that "swift action" needed to be taken to fix the situation so that younger people with disabilities are able to live in the community and to speed up the process of getting them out of aged care facilities.

"Physically, mentally and financially, I'm much better off than I was now I'm on the NDIS," Mr Mortiss said.

"It's been a lifesaver.

"I'm back feeling much better and doing things I hadn't been able to do before. Now I can live my life to the best of my ability, the way I choose.

"I love music. I have ever since I was a child. I studied at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and have my Diploma of Music.

"Now I'm back playing the French horn and dabbling in a bit of self-taught trumpet.

"I've got two goals; one to join a community band, and I'm writing my memoir so I can share my Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus journey with others."

Donald Mortiss hopes to join a community band and is back playing the French horn.
Donald Mortiss hopes to join a community band and is back playing the French horn.

Mr Mortiss' focal support co-ordinator, Patty, said she had worked closely with his NDIS planner, support workers and therapists to assist his transition.

"The changes we've seen in Don since he moved here have been incredible," she said.

"His physical and mental health has improved dramatically, and it's great to see him back playing his French horn and trumpet.

"On ANZAC Day he even played the Last Post for all the residents.

"Don has also formed new friendships, and you can see he is really enjoying being able to socialise with people closer to his age."

MS Queensland service delivery executive general manager Karen Quaile said there was an "urgent need" for people like Mr Mortiss.

"Currently we have 25,518 Queenslanders, aged 15-64, who live with progressive neurological disorders and 3,770 have MS," she said.

"We know there's an urgent need so we are working closely with NDIS support co-ordinators, the National Disability Insurance Agency and developers, landlords and owners to make sure we can address the need and place as many people as we can in these new state-of-the-art, fully accessible high needs apartments so they can regain control of their lives and start living them the way they choose to the best of their ability."

Ms Quaile said MS Queensland has four different sites with specialist disability accommodation and support independent living provision and another two sites where it is in partnership with another owner to provide on-site support.

"Over the next 18 months MS Queensland will have another 31, one and two bedroom, high-needs independent living apartments ready so it's another 31 people with disability who will be able to regain control over their own lives again," she said.

"We understand it's not just about the physical environment for people with disability, it's about their emotional and mental wellbeing too.

"Being able to provide the appropriate style of housing for an individual, in the right locality, within the right community, to create a sense of independence and confidence to access that community, and to build their sense of value and dignity - that's what it's all about for us - giving life back and enhancing quality of life.

"It's also about giving peace of mind to their loved ones. It means they can relinquish their main carer role and feel a renewed sense of being valued for who they are."