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Katherine's Story

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Determined to be independent

Katherine Brennan has faced the challenges posed by her cerebral palsy with a mix of good humour and persistence. Now, the BaptistCare at home team is helping her embrace ageing the same way.

Katherine knows a thing or two about determination.

Despite the challenges of living with cerebral palsy, she has led a full and busy life, managing to live in her own home, hold down a long-term job, write articles for a newsletter and perform in theatre productions.

Now at 73, she is facing the challenges of ageing with the same energy and positive focus. “I have a wheelchair, but I don’t want to use it,” says Katherine. “So, I go for walks and try to exercise. I go to the pool when I can. It’s hard work, but I want to keep walking.”

BaptistCare is proud to be supporting Katherine’s quest for a meaningful life by providing transport for her and accompanying her on outings, as well as other support services.

Katherine explains she has never known a life without physical challenges. Complications during her birth led to the onset of cerebral palsy, a type of brain damage that severely impairs muscle control and posture.

For many years Katherine tried living on her own and it proved a huge struggle, but she persevered and held a job with a disability services provider for more than 20 years. In the 1980s, Katherine learned how to read and write and took to both so well she began contributing to a local newsletter. She moved to Bribie Island in 2009, but after a fall decided to move to an assisted-living community in 2016.

Katherine now has a level 4 Home Care Package and she began using BaptistCare at home about 12 months ago. BaptistCare staff, including care worker Christine, visit Katherine in her home most days and take her on a variety of life-enriching excursions. “It’s absolutely wonderful and has changed my life so much,” says Katherine. “It can take a while for some people to get to know me, but Christine and I are one of a kind. She comes twice a week and we might go to the club or to the beach sometimes.” While getting out and about is important, Katherine particularly values the respect that Christine provides her. “Unfortunately, some people think that they have to talk down to people with a disability,” she says. “What I like best about the visits from BaptistCare is that I get to have a bit of adult conversation.”

Katherine is determined to keep learning, and BaptistCare staff Wendy and Ian have recently been working on her next challenge – a PC. “I’m so excited to get a computer,” Katherine says. “I like playing solitaire, and I’m looking forward to playing music I find online. It’s been organised by BaptistCare and should arrive soon.”

If you or someone you love is looking for help to remain socially active and engaged with the community, contact BaptistCare on 1300 275 227 or visit baptistcare.org.au/athome.

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