For many people who may be physically limited, a loss of functional independence has more than just practical implications. An inability to shower and dress yourself, or just to get on with your daily activities, can also be a psychological and social blow. Most of the help available aims to increase your independence as much as possible.


What may help

Talk to your health care team

It is important that you communicate to your health care team if you

  • have any difficulties doing strenuous activities (eg. carrying a heavy shopping bag),
  • have any trouble taking a walk outside of the house,
  • need to stay in bed or a chair during the day,
  • need help with eating, dressing, washing yourself or using the toilet,
  • are limited in doing either your work or other daily activities, or
  • are limited in pursuing your hobbies or other leisure time activities.

Support services

Many community support services offer practical assistance, but it is not always easy to find them. Below are the details of some organisations that can help you with various mobility related needs.

Commonwealth Carelink Centres

These centres are a useful first stop, providing free information on support services covering personal care, nursing, linen, domestic help and accommodation in nursing homes and hostels. Your local centre will also have information on other services in your area.

The information is available in 16 languages other than English and also caters for indigenous and vision-impaired people.

To contact the centres, you can phone Freecall 1800 422 737, or visit your local Carelink Centre (phone the Freecall number for locations).

Assistance with personal care

Community nurses may be able to assist with showering, dressing and medical care. Your health care team can put you in touch with the services you need. Alternatively, you can contact your local community health centre (under “Community Health” in the telephone directory), or Carelink (details above) may be able to help.

Enhancing mobility

Some of the groups and organisations that can assist with your physical independence include:

  • Occupational therapists, who are trained to help you manage everyday activities. They can suggest mobility equipment and changes in the home. You should be able to find one through your local hospital, a specialist palliative care team or privately.
  • Palliative care equipment is available for loan. Go to the Palliative Care Australia website or phone (02) 6232 0700 to find out about the contact details for the palliative care centre in your state.
  • The not-for-profit Independent Living Centres in each state, which provide information and equipment for everyday living phone 1300 885 886.
  • Other state-based programs for providing equipment for independent living. In NSW for example, the Program of Appliances for Disabled People (PADP) provides aids for mobility, continence, communication, sleeping, nutrition and more.
  • Private organisations that rent or sell equipment such as wheelchairs, walking frames, shower chairs, commodes, incontinence products and pressure-care mattresses. Look under 'Disabled Persons Equipment &/or Services', 'Home Health Care Aids' or 'Hire – Medical Equipment' in the Yellow Pages.

Modifying your home

The Carer Gateway (Freecall 1800 422 737 ) has information about how to modify your home. The Independent Living Centres (see above) in each state also have information about home modifications.

Seeking respite care

Contact Carer Gateway for information on respite services either via the website or call Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737 if you need to arrange respite care

Needing help around the home

Services available to help you around the house and garden include:

  • Meals on Wheels services, will deliver hot, chilled or frozen meals, for a small cost. Check with your local Commonwealth Carelink Centre for details on services in your area.
  • The Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, which can provide domestic and maintenance services for people at home. Also, Commonwealth Carelink Centres can put you in touch with people in your area who can help out.

Tips

If you live alone, consider having an alarm installed in case of an emergency.

Life, Hope & Reality was developed and written by Afaf Girgis, Claire Johnson, and Sylvie Lambert with funding from the NHMRC and Cancer Council NSW.

Last updated 30 August 2015