Claire has faced many challenges in her life including her former work as paramedic and being a first responder in New York City during the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“I attended 9/11 and the world changed on that day. Not only the patients but the bystanders were as shocked as anyone else watching this situation unfold, “Claire said.
Her 2001 diagnosis of aggressive multiple sclerosis was an unexpected challenge and rollercoaster symptoms meant she eventually had to make the “gut-wrenching” decision to leave her work helping people.
Thanks to funding from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and support from APM living with MS has become easier. She has also been able to resume her passion helping others.
“I was in a very bad medical state, getting worse symptoms. I had nobody to turn to and was constantly hurting my body, physically and mentally and it looked very bleak in outcome and function”.
“Last year I was continually falling and was left with no feeling in my legs and feet, arms and hands,” Claire said.
Claire joined the NDIS last year and praises her APM Local Area Coordinator (LAC) Ashlee for assisting her with getting the help she urgently needed.
She now has a support coordinator and plan manager who makes sure she gets what she needs from the scheme.
“I had a dream team who were helping while I entered a new journey. I was able to look at my goals of developing and maintaining my muscle strength, mobility and increasing my capacity and independence,” Claire said.
Claire uses her NDIS plan to access therapies, assistive technology, and support workers. She gets help with household chores and can access the community she loves.
“I am able to utilise the NDIS with their programs tailored exactly to what I need at which time. I need fine motor skill help now and we paint for practice,” Claire said.
Claire was devastated to give up her former career but decided she needed to concentrate on what she could do as opposed to what she could not. “I’ll give you my heart, I’ll take yours” has become her motto.
“I looked at my skill set which was to love people, help them, counsel them, heal hearts or make them laugh over a coffee or just give me a couple of hours to break monotony in ladies’ lives,” she said.
Claire said she had been a strong Christian most of her life and spoke to her Pastor, and his wife from the Grove Church in Banksia Grove, in Perth, about setting up a ministry service for women at the church. The ministry involves prayer and counsel.
She said the pair backed her idea and helped her with the extensive behind-the-scenes planning of Heart 2 Heart.
“During this ever-changing life, there are so many lonely, hurt and confused people. I want to tell them they matter, they are valued and loved,” Claire explained.
“Sometimes you are the only person they may see all day, so it is a beautiful way to give back to my community as there is a lack in these areas for different reasons.”
Claire said Heart 2 Heart has fulfilled her medical passion and she gives credit to The Grove Church for being incredibly supportive.
“I owe all of this to APM and NDIS as well as my other allied health workers. When I have a win we all do.”
As part of the NDIS Partners in the Community program, APM Communities help people with disability in several regions in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory to access support.
Our Local Area Coordinators (LACs) help people with disability, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, families and carers to identify and access the support they need.