On the eve of the anniversary of Ann Marie Smith’s death, we published a podcast episode about a woman called Nat who says she could be the next Ann Marie due to chronic inadequate support.
The podcast has been shared widely on social media and has been picked up by mainstream media. Many concerned listeners have gotten in touch to ask, “Where’s Nat at now with her supports?”
Until her situation is fixed, we will follow her story and post updates here.
Timeline of events since podcast:
5 August 2021
Nat’s NDIS plan includes some important technology options, which Nat is really pleased about. However, Nat is still waiting for the arrival of her new motorised wheelchair even though she paid for it in full nearly 15 months ago.
That’s right, we said 15 months.
3 August 2021
Nat had a meet and greet with a support worker who is studying a health related degree at University. Nat hoped that this worker would be suitable to join her team but the worker advised they would rather work at the local supermarket than provide Nat's support.
Nat had another worker who was sent out to meet with her but this worker is not able to work in the evenings so she could not meet Nat's needs. Nat is not being provided with any suitable support workers to meet. Nat feels like support workers don't want to work as they continue to decline her shifts.
16 July 2021
Nat has continued to work with the Quality and Safeguards Commission and the issues that Nat had raised have now been dealt with. One issue was about a breach of confidentiality by a service agency who passed confidential information about Nat on to another agency without Nat’s permission. The agency has apologised.
The other issue was about a worker who was verbally abusive to Nat in a way that reflects the imbalance in power that often happens between a person and their support worker. That worker is no longer assigned to Nat but Nat is concerned they are still out there working and it’s not clear if the agency has worked with that worker to change their behaviour.
17 June 2021
Nat's NDIS Plan was approved and is a better plan. However, finding supports is still a problem. Nat has started working with an additional new agency, but finding workers to cover the late evening shifts remains a challenge, and Nat says there are other people with this problem.
For Nat, this means she is still having to sleep in her chair for at least some of the time each week.
Nat has been told she’s eligible for Specialist Disability Accommodation options, but that the funding level would work best if she were living in a shared house with two other people.
This is a dilemma.
Nat needs better housing but does not see why this should mean she has to move in with other people.
15 June 2021
Nat is in trouble.
She has run out of support coordination funding and she’s waiting on the outcome of her claim.
Her funding overall is really low.
She has been told she will most likely be approved for SDA with 24 hour support, but would have to live with two other people. Nat’s response to this is “No! If I don’t get it because I refuse to share, that’s disgusting. How would you like to live with two people you don’t know, for the next however many years? What if you have an argument, if you don’t like them?” Nat also questions how much support she would actually get in that situation. How is it 24 hour support if she is sharing supports with two other people? “I can’t see I’m getting what I need.”
She was in her wheelchair from 6:30pm-7am last Tuesday, 8 June She had to call a friend to come over to help her with the bathroom, put a blanket over her and lock the house.
30 April 2021
Nat meets with a new support agency who may be able to come on board to support Nat to recruit workers specifically for her team as discussed with Purple Orange. Watch this space.
29 April 2021
Nat has been sleeping in her bed more frequently for the last couple of weeks. This is thanks to one particular worker who is working with Nat almost every night. As long as this worker does not get sick, this is a good thing.
22 April 2021
Nat's NDIS Plan is in the process of being reviewed. A face to face meeting took place at Nat's home with Nat's Support Coordinator and two NDIS Planners. A huge amount of work went into preparing for this review. Multiple reports were developed for this meeting to provide NDIS with evidence to outline what Nat needs in her future NDIS Plan. Now Nat is waiting for the new NDIS Plan to be approved. We'll wait and see.
19 April 2021
We learn from Nat some of the difficulties involved in buying a new customised wheelchair.
We would love to hear from NDIS participants about their experiences getting a new wheelchair, and how they think things could be improved.
15 April 2021
Purple Orange meets with Nat to explore how best to build a support team that is specifically recruited and trained to support one person in particular, instead of being recruited into a service agency and then being rostered to work with different clients.
We would love to hear from NDIS participants and families who have successfully built a support team. We are keen to understand what types of recruitment strategies worked, how workers are trained, and how shifts are filled easily if a worker is unable to attend.
We seek responses via a survey:
14 April 2021
Nat meets again with the Quality and Safeguards Commission who are following up the issues Nat raised.
7 April 2021
ABC Radio Adelaide Breakfast Show
ABC Radio Adelaide does a follow up interview with Purple Orange CEO, Robbi Williams, on the breakfast show with Ali Clark and David Bevan. They agree to ring Robbi every week until Nat's situation is fixed.
6 April 2021
It is the anniversary of Ann Marie Smith's death. Nat's story makes mainstream news.
ABC Radio Adelaide Breakfast Show
ABC Radio Adelaide breakfast show with Ali Clark and David Bevan plays part of the podcast and interviews Purple Orange CEO, Robbi Williams.They also interview Nat Cook, Shadow Minister for Human Services, about this situation.
Purple Orange CEO publishes article in InDaily, 'One Year After Tragedy, Why Hasn't Disability Care Changed?'
5 April 2021
Purple Orange publishes podcast episode, 'We Need To Talk.'