Shevaune Conry was just 25 years old when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). At an age when most young women are still planning careers and families, Shevaune was told her life would be cut short by the debilitating neurological disease. The dreams she had of a life with her husband David were shattered.
From then on, her existence was a daily struggle against the chronic pain and disability caused by the disease. Eventually, David was no longer able to care for Shevaune by himself. The couple reached the heartbreaking decision that Shevaune must move into an aged-care home — despite being just 33 years old. Although clearly unsuitable for such a young person, aged care was the only option available to meet Shevaune’s high-care needs.
Appalled by the lack of appropriate care, David and three of his closest friends decided to take matters into their own hands and founded Youngcare. That was eleven years ago and since then their charity has gone on to support thousands of young people living with disability or disease — and has touched the hearts of families across Australia.
Yet, according to Youngcare’s chairman, Brisbane property and construction magnate Nic De Luca, the scale of the problem remains vast, with about 7,000 young people living in aged care in Australia today.
“Aged care is designed for those nearing the end of their lives,” Nic says. “The average age of a resident is eighty-five and the average life expectancy after admission is three years. It’s no place for those in the prime of their lives, even if they have a disability or debilitating illness. One in five young people leave aged care less than once a month — if at all. Most of us would find it hard to imagine spending the rest of our lives in such an environment, yet it could happen to any one of us.”
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