Housing shuffle gives Simon independence

23 November 2023 11:24AM

Going to the shop for milk or doing the washing might seem like chores to most of us – but, for 52-year-old Calamvale resident Simon, they’re a joy.

Until recently, Simon had to rely on carers to do these jobs for him. But thanks to a change of home and modifications to make the new home more accessible, Simon has regained his independence.

The result is due to ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and collaboration across the Department of Housing to ensure our public housing tenants are living in homes fit for their purposes.

Inala Housing Service Centre Senior Customer Service Manager, Laura, said they became aware of Simon’s circumstances when his community occupational therapist contacted the department to ask if the laundry door could be widened.

Laura said, “Simon had a new power wheelchair that improved his mobility, but the size and weight of the chair created new problems.

“He couldn’t get into the laundry in his new wheelchair, and the ramp was struggling under the weight.”

Inala Housing Service Centre occupational therapist, Sue, assessed the home and determined that Simon would need major modifications to his home. Simon’s needs were likely to increase as he aged and would be best met by moving into a fully wheelchair-accessible property.

Simon had lived in the house since he was five years old and there was a strong attachment to the property. Sue said it took a lot of work to figure out how to broach it with Simon.

“We worked with his community occupational therapist to figure out what was important to him – what he liked about living in the house, what was most difficult and what he’d like to change.

“Then our regional property officer, who’s a carpenter, explained to Simon why modifying the existing house wouldn’t work and what else we could offer.

“We were blown away when Simon finally said he’d be willing to move,” Sue said.

The department’s property team began looking for properties that could meet Simon’s needs and found a wheelchair-accessible property close to his sister Jenneclair, his main support person.

It was already tenanted, but, when they spoke with the tenant, they found that the person with wheelchair requirements had moved out and the remaining family didn’t need that level of accessibility.

Laura said, “We asked the tenant if she’d be open to moving, and she was happy to do that.”

“We found accommodation for her and then invited Simon and Jenneclair to visit the house with the property officer to get their thoughts on how we could make the house work for him.”

Occupational therapist Sue then worked closely with the property team and the Queensland Government’s builder, QBuild, to design modifications that would help Simon regain his independence.

“QBuild widened the hallway and removed a wall to the kitchen, made adjustments to the external doors, and removed the cupboard doors and shelves under the sink,” Sue said.

“Now Simon can do his washing, he can put the garage door up and down himself using a remote, and he can reach the tap in the kitchen,” she said.

Simon is certainly all smiles now that he can move freely about his home.

“I love that I can get in and out of my house easily. I’m close to the shops and will be able to go and get things I need on my own. I don’t need to ask others to go and get things for me.

“I love that I can be independent. I can do it,” he said.

Simon’s sister, Jenneclair, said she’s seen a tremendous difference in her brother after just 2 weeks in the new house.

“I was concerned that Simon might have been getting a little bit depressed in the old house. He would often sleep in late, which was not normal for him,” Jenneclair said.

“Since he’s been in the new house, he’s up at the crack of dawn, he’s moving, he gets himself ready, comes out and makes a cuppa, and feeds Tom, his cat.

“Those are things he was not doing easily in the old house.

“And he’s actually using the whole house whereas before he just lived in his room. Here, he’s going out in the world and that’s been wonderful,” Jenneclair said.

Sue said, “It’s been a real team effort and to see Simon’s face the first time he came in with all the modifications done – he was so happy, it was gorgeous.”

Laura added, “All these changes future proof the home for him and his changing needs as he ages. We’re hoping it will be his forever home.”

As for Simon’s old home, QBuild is now undertaking maintenance and repair work around the house. It will soon be ready for a new family.

See how alterations at Simon's home are helping him be independent.

Show transcript

[Jenneclair, Simon’s sister, speaking]

Simon's been here now for 15 days and in those 15 days, I've seen a huge change.

He's up at the crack of dawn. He’s up, he’s moving, he gets himself ready, comes out, makes a cuppa, feeds Tom, looks after Tom.

Those things were things he wasn't doing easily in the old house at all.

[Simon speaking through iPad]

I love that I can get in and out of my house easily. It is all on the flat.

I have access to all areas of my home easily.


Our father had passed away a couple of years ago and Simon wanted to stay living in the family home. He'd been there for 47 years, didn't want to move.

He also then got his power chair, which increased his independence. And we discovered that the house wasn't suitable with that, with the power chair and he made the decision that he would be prepared to move.

[Simon speaking through iPad]

I love the wide hallway and open plan design.

I love that I can get into my kitchen and up to my sink. I'm looking forward to doing lots of cooking in my new kitchen.


You can put your things in the sink quite easily now, too, can’t you?

[Simon speaking]

Yeah. Yep.


He wanted a home that was going to be easily accessible, one that he could get, you know, get into the laundry and do his own laundry. He wanted to do that but couldn't.

[Simon speaking through iPad]

I love the path to the washing line. So, now doing my own laundry will be so much easier for me.


Housing were excellent in being able to listen to Simon's needs and what Simon was wanting.

[Simon speaking through iPad]

I love the location. I'm close to the shops and will be able to go and get things I need on my own. I don't need to ask others to go and get things for me.


He's got a new lease, definitely got a new lease on life. Really!

[Simon speaking through iPad]

I love that I can be independent.

I can do it.