Lyn Bates

Without her motorised wheelchair and a hoist to help her get in and out of bed, Lyn Bates would have no choice but to live in a nursing home.
Lyn Bates, 74, sits in her motorised wheelchair in her living room.

Melbourne resident Lyn Bates, 74, is blunt about her access to assistive technology. Without her motorised wheelchair, a hoist that she uses to get in and out of bed and a chair that she uses to shower, she would have no option but to move into a nursing home.

Lyn contracted polio, aged 6, while living in rural Victoria in the early 1950s. The polio virus is highly contagious, and in a small number of cases, the virus spread to the nervous system, causing paralysis, usually of the legs. In the 1950s and 1960s a vaccine was developed.

Lyn bought a new motorised wheelchair about 18 months ago. She paid $8500 of the $20,000 cost. The Victorian Government’s State Wide Equipment Program picked up the rest of the bill. Lyn paid for her part through savings and money she received from Legacy. Legacy provides money to the children of Australian service people.

Lyn says the wheelchair makers recommend that it be replaced every five years. ‘I can’t afford to replace it that often, so I will keep it until it starts costing me too much to repair,’ she says.

Lyn also uses a hoist to get in and out of bed. ‘I needed to pay $5000 towards the all-up cost of $8500,’ she says. ‘I funded that out of my savings and hopefully it never needs replacing.’ The State Wide Equipment Program paid the balance.

A custom-designed chair helps Lyn to shower. She paid $150 of the $1200 cost.

Lyn says that despite her expenditure, her care needs are not fully covered. She receives assistance five of seven nights a week to go to bed. Her budget does not extend to care on the weekends.

If she moved to MyAged Care, Lyn says that her care needs would be covered, but the assistive technology would not. ‘With what is offered under MyAged Care, I would be worse off,’ she says.