Joe has had a lifelong dream to go to America. His younger sister Carolyn can’t quite pin point the origins of his ‘obsession’ but recalls his early and enduring love of Elvis, Johnny Cash and all things Disney.
“Mum and Dad listened to a lot of Elvis and Johnny Cash records when Joe was young so I guess it all stems from there,” said Carolyn.
Accompanied by his long-term support worker, Paulina, Joe celebrated his upcoming 64th birthday with the holiday of his dreams – 12 days in America. Disneyland, Hollywood and an Elvis tribute show in Las Vegas were all highlights for Joe.
“It was absolutely amazing,” said Paulina.
“Joe had the time of his life and, as you can imagine, didn’t want to come home!
“A highlight for me was the connections we made with people. Wearing my Centacare shirt and ID prompted conversations and people were genuinely moved by the fact Joe was experiencing his lifelong dream. They were amazed by the trust shown in Centacare by Joe’s family and I guess the bond that we have was obvious to them. It actually opened up doors for us. We were given priority access to the plane and Joe was given a VIP tour. We even got to meet the Disney characters in person!”
Carolyn, who took responsibility for Joe after their parents passed away, said finding the right person to go overseas with Joe was the biggest challenge. “As you can imagine, it’s a huge responsibility for someone to take on,” she said. “While Joe doesn’t have complex needs, he still needs prompting in terms of personal care and he needs to be with someone he feels comfortable with. I ran into a few dead ends with other disability service providers before I approached Centacare with the idea.”
Joe has been part of Centacare’s ‘Southside Community Connection’ for just over three years. Based out of Carina, in Brisbane’s eastern suburbs, the popular social group spend four days per week out in the community, learning skills and participating in all kinds of activities.
Carolyn first spoke to Paulina about Joe’s dream to visit America toward the end of last year and, as a first step, Joe’s Service Delivery Manager Marina included nine days of holiday in his first NDIS plan. The idea gathered momentum through further conversations, including with Centacare’s Director of Client Services, who was equally committed to make Joe’s dream a reality.
“Centacare pulled out all the stops to make this happen for Joe,” said Carolyn.
“They put me in touch with the travel agent who had previously arranged a cruise for the group, satisfied all the planning and risk assessment requirements and completed the service agreement for Paulina.
“Paulina was the natural choice. She and Joe have a special connection. She knows Joe really well and genuinely understands him. We both trust her implicitly and I’m just so grateful to her, and Centacare, for making this happen for Joe. It has truly been one of those special life events that they will remember forever.”
Joe’s family paid for his trip to America and the NDIS funded the required 1:1 support.