THE NEXT STEP SCI RECOVERY WELLNESS HUB
Our immediate planning objective is to develop an expanded Wellness Hub that will enhance therapy programs covering both the physical and psychological aspects of affected individuals and their families.
Why we need the Wellness Hub
Physical based rehabilitation is only one element of a recovery program for people with spinal cord injuries and other neurological disorders. Complementary programs designed to assist management of mental health issues associated with acquired brain injuries are other necessary forms of therapy. These include mentoring, motivation and counselling services. Being able to be have private counselling sessions as a way of dealing with these problems is a critical part of a client’s recovery process. This is especially relevant when they are confronted with the reality of their lives being converted suddenly from having an able bodied situation to a life in a wheelchair.
We will use the Wellness Hub is a mechanism for combining all recovery programs so that every client is afforded access to whatever therapy is needed to maximise their recovery.
How will the Wellness Hub be Developed
At the moment our rehabilitation centre at Epping comprises a downstairs exercise based gymnastic area with an office and a single therapy room for other services. There is an upstairs mezzanine floor with several small offices and a kitchen. Unfortunately, the upstairs section is not available to people in wheelchairs or people with balance difficulties due to the absence of a lift or wheelchair hoist.
The current downstairs area provides reasonable space for our present client numbers. However, our client numbers are growing and to accommodate this growth and also develop wider forms of therapy treatment we have commenced a renovation project to extend the upstairs mezzanine area. Cost of the building extension will be around $35k which we will finance by way of external fund raising. Depending on our fund raising ability we hope to finish the building extension by end of April 2018.
The building extension will allow us to transfer the non gymnastic based forms of therapy into upstairs rooms as well as housing our office administration. This part of the project will be dependent on installation of a hoist to enable upstairs wheelchair access. Timing for this will rely on the availability of external funding to cover the cost of a hoist.
How will the Wellness Hub Operate
The Wellness Hub will be designed in a way that as well as having physically based therapy it will include a supervised social and learning forum for clients and carers in an upstairs “quiet” environment away from the general noisiness of our ground floor gymnastically based rehabilitation centre. The environment created by the Wellness Hub through a dedicated “social” room will also allow clients and carers to interact with each other. They will be able to share common issues that are closely associated with their ongoing difficulties in living a life with a spinal cord injury or other neurological disorders. Private rooms will also be available for one on one mentoring, motivation and counselling sessions which form an integral part of their recovery programs.
Access to other forms of therapies such as massage, acupuncture, nutrition and the like will be available upstairs and all of this will be connected with the exercise based rehabilitation programs in the downstairs gymnastic area. In this way, we will have an improved holistic approach to rehabilitation with all our recovery therapy programs operating connectively under the one roof.
Benefits of a Wellness Hub
Each of our clients are monitored in terms of their recovery progress so that we have strong evidence of the extent to which improvement with their rehabilitation programs is being achieved. All the services that will be available through the Wellness Hub will form part of these measurement factors.
Our founder and Director Tracey Rhiannon is a quadriplegic and the other Director Mal Scott is a paraplegic both of whom have recovered under similar programs as provided by The Next Step. Their own personal recovery experiences and understanding of the recovery benefits that can come from having a fully developed Wellness Hub will be invaluable.
As well as servicing the needs of our own clients it is also intended to make the social and learning elements of the Wellness Hub available to disabled members of the wider community who could also benefit from the environment. These services will be made known to local areas such as the Epping Hub run by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and to the Whittlesea Disability Network forum of which The Next Step is a member.
The additional space and development of the Wellness Hub will allow us to provide the best facilities for our clients’ recoveries. The Next Step was formed to assist as many people as possible by providing rehabilitation processes that can improve the quality of their lives and remains our key objective.
Additional Funding Required
As a Not for Profit Organisation we work hard to keep our fees to a minimum and our business is financially viable and operationally sound. However, when we engage in project work, external funding is necessary. At the moment we are fund raising to complete the upstairs mezzanine extension at an estimated cost of around $35k.
While we are confident that our fund raising initiatives can cover the cost of our building extension, the additional cost impost of a wheelchair hoist to gain upstairs access will be a difficult fund raising task for us. A firm quote for the installation of the wheelchair hoist has been obtained from an accredited lift operator at a cost of $49.2k.
In order to have the Wellness Hub fully operational it will be dependent on installation of a wheelchair hoist and we are hopeful that financing for this component of our project can be accommodated by way of a Government Grant.
The building extension project will enable expansion of all forms of therapy working within an environment of a Wellness Hub. With the development of the Wellness Hub, The Next Step will have a world class rehabilitation centre with a unique ability to provide all forms of therapy needed for recovery programs within the one premises.
Another important part of our charter is creating greater awareness in the general community about the day to day difficulties of people with spinal cord injuries. We have developed strong relationships with a number of well profiled organisations in the private sector. They are supporting us in various funding ways and also helping us to more widely promote awareness of the impact of spinal cord injuries. The Next Step is absolutely focussed on this so that we can constantly keep increasing the number of people who can benefit from the rehabilitation services that we provide. We are dedicated to this cause as we strive to get all of our clients to a stage where they can revert back to being a contributing part of the community and ideally back into the workforce in some meaningful way.