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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

A family's plea for help

Life has been hard for the Barnbrook family of Seymour in recent years - and it is getting worse.

CHALPAT SONTI May 23, 2014 3:54am

Sarah and Shane Barnbrook with youngest daughter Aurora, 2.


The Barnbrook family of Seymour have been through enough in recent times to last a lifetime, but their battles aren’t over yet.

They are in desperate need of help both in support from the community and financially from the government.

Shane Barnbrook was the subject of a wonderful community fundraising effort to allow him to return home after suffering serious health problems when he swallowed a chicken bone in 2012.

That developed into a rare condition leaving him fully paralysed, and Seymour chipped in with money, labour and materials to allow him to live back in his home town.

But that has also brought an unexpected cost — wife Sarah’s health. She has developed a hernia and a problem shoulder from lifting Shane in and out bed and is going to need surgery.

Which is where the problem lies. While Mr Barnbrook is classified as having high-care needs and has been successful in applying for an individual support package through the Department of Human Services, that is unlikely to be available for a couple of years under time frames advised to the family.

It could be delayed even further due to the Federal Budget last week.

Both local MPs Rob Mitchell (Federal) and Cindy McLeish (State) have gone into bat with various ministers, but there has been no result — yet.

It means Mrs Barnbrook would be expected to struggle along doing as she has been, because the couple are only eligible at present for a 90-minutes home care visit each week and two visits from a nurse for wound care.

They have been offered two weeks respite for Mr Barnbrook to stay at a Murchison aged-care facility but are unsure when to take it — when Mrs Barnbrook has her operation or sooner, when it is also much needed.

‘‘At the moment we’re really struggling,’’ Mrs Barnbrook said.

‘‘We just need more supports at home. And we have to decide if I just keep plodding along and try not to further injure myself or take the break now and not have it when I’m recovering from the operation.’’

There is also no high-care disability respite in the region, forcing Mr Barnbrook to go to Murchison.

Private care would cost $45 an hour, money the family of five can’t afford.

Mrs Barnbrook has had to resign from her job to look after her husband.

‘‘It seems like (the price of) everything’s going up, we use a lot of electricity just to keep (Shane) rolling, his wheelchair needs to be charged and there are other things as well.’’

But it’s not money the couple is asking the community for. It is help.

Mr Barnbrook said if six people, for example, could work on a roster to get him in and out of bed each day, which is the hardest thing for his wife to do.

‘‘That would really be a help,’’ he said.

Mrs Barnbrook said the other option would be to put her husband in Barrabill House aged care facility.

‘‘Someone who’s 35 shouldn’t have to live in there, and access to funding should be a lot easier than what it is.

‘‘We just don’t want to see him have to leave us again after all the hard work to get him home.

‘‘Even if people could help by sitting with a child (the Barnbrooks’ three children are 7, 5 and 2) that would be a great help. The family support we have is strong but it’s not enough.

‘‘The way we’re going isn’t safe, it isn’t sustainable and I need some more support in place.’’

Anyone who can help should phone Mrs Barnbrook on 0427203595.

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