Local Bundaberg resident, Ryan, knows first-hand how your life can change in an instant.
Four days before Ryan’s 19th birthday, he experienced a stroke. The stroke left him with mild paralysis and limited use of his arm and leg.
Returning to work after any injury or health condition has its own set of challenges. For Ryan, it was relearning how to use equipment and carry out everyday tasks that were effortless before his stroke.
For help on this journey, Ryan connected with disability employment service EPIC Assist (EPIC) for support from a specialist that understands the ins-and-outs of living and working with a disability.
EPIC Employment Consultant Liam put him forward for a general handyman role at EconoLodge Park Lane in Bundaberg and he hasn’t looked back.
Ryan’s duties at the motel include keeping the pool clean, garden maintenance and general handyman work around the property.
“Every day is different,” said Ryan. “It keeps me on my toes.”
Ryan’s paralysis means he is no longer able to operate pull starts on machinery or reach high places in the same way he used to. EPIC helped EconoLodge to access modified equipment to assist Ryan with his work, including the Genie lift which raises Ryan up onto the roof, and power towels with extra handles and a back strap to take the weight off his arm.
“If it wasn’t for EPIC, I’d still be struggling,” Ryan said.
“All the gear they’ve given me has helped me stay on top of it all. It’s given me a new outlook on life and helped me contribute to society.”
For Ryan, the support from his boss and EconoLodge owner, Greg, has been a turning point.
“He’s a real brilliant boss. Real casual. Been real supportive actually. He saw when I had a bit of a crash dive with everything and helped me out,” said Ryan.
Greg says he was unsure at first about hiring someone with a disability, but since starting, Ryan has blown all his reservations out of the park.
“We definitely had some initial reservations about hiring someone with a disability,” said Greg.
“But once we saw how Ryan worked and how EPIC can help, it was a no brainer.”
Greg says Ryan has improved greatly since he started in the role over nine months ago.
“Ryan started off as anyone would, a bit slow. But once he found his feet and we understood how he needed to work he’s come a long quite well,” said Greg.
“Even though Ryan has a disability, he’s a person, and he needs to feel like he can do the job, which he can. He just needs a little help with the physical aspect of it.”
Ryan says his employment at EconoLodge Park Lane has had many positive effects.
“Work is important because it gives me a sense of achievement and meaning in life,” said Ryan.
“I have a lot more mental clarity and confidence, and I’m out and about more too.”
His advice for anyone else struggling with getting back into the swing of work after an injury or health condition is to grab it by the horns.
“Acknowledge your fear and give it a good crack. You’d be surprised what you can achieve.”
If you’re looking for help finding and keeping a job you love, get in touch with EPIC Assist today.