Living in lockdown with an ABI: a letter from Robyn Brewin


Hi everyone

I am writing this to let you know how James is and what has been happening in his life lately. Living in the new Covid-19 world is challenging for everyone and it is particularly difficult for those with profound disabilities such as James and all the people he lives with in his shared disability accommodation. Those like James who rely on others for almost everything e.g. personal care, nutrition and wheelchair transfers etc. are placed at even greater risk by the number of people who attend them and in such close contact, social distancing is impossible in these circumstances. Many like James are also at high risk with underlying health issues such as aspiration and breathing difficulties and therefore the Corona virus is a grave threat.

James’ ABI home is in partial lockdown although I am able still able to visit unlike his usual therapists and visitors who have been unable to enter. Social isolation is a big issue for all of us and even more so for people who need to be isolated. Thankfully James lives with 9 others and there are plenty of staff and activities in-house.

James has been making the most of the restrictions and like many of us he is having plenty of zoom meetings. He is interacting with friends, family, having music therapy, his Physiotherapy movement program and a big highlight of his week his personal Buddhist meditation session via his iPad connected to his TV monitor ably assisted by his terrific support worker Andrew and other staff in the house. By all accounts Zoom is working well for James and it has the bonus that he doesn’t need to travel out in the winter months. Walks to the nearby park are happening when the weather is good and James is listening to audiobooks and podcasts.

James ooing a Zoom music session with his switch

James has been having a lot of success learning to move his arm to hit a ‘yes’ switch and this is being practised in music therapy to help write a song and also to write a story given options as well as make some decisions on activities and other things in his life. He has just received some communication equipment to help with this. James lives to get his feet on his Motomed bike and he finds this very relaxing for his stiff muscles. James has also been having visual stimulation including coloured light therapy directed by an optometrist and is about to get his first pair of prism glasses to assist with his sight.

With the lightening of restrictions James is again able to leave his home to spend Tuesday at my house after a 2-month hiatus. He had the biggest smile when he arrived for his first visit the other day and so did I. It is wonderful we can again spend a whole day together each week. James and l are very grateful to all Victorians who are observing the regulations and maintaining hand hygiene and social distancing. The vulnerable amongst us will need you to continue to look out for them for many months to come. We are all lucky to live in Australia.

Thank you, Robyn

James listening to a zoom meditation with Dantachitta from the Brunswick Buddhist Centre

James is listening to a message from his friend past support worker Antoinette who is now living in France and regularly corresponds