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Enjoying an independent life - David Crombie Junior

Enjoying an independent life - David Crombie Junior

You only have to spend an hour with David Crombie Junior to realise the man has enormous enthusiasm and zest for life.

Whether it is going to the footy with a mate, taking day trips to local islands, spending time on his parent's farm or getting out walking, David Crombie Junior is a man who is funny, motivated, action-packed, and goal orientated.

When we met with David and his Helper, Debby Gould, (pictured here with Five Good Friends Community Lead Belinda Brandt) one thing was abundantly clear. David and Debby are a brilliant match, and there is a great understanding and friendship between them.

David, a Five Good Friends Member who joined over two and half years ago, comes from a large family. The middle child of five children – four girls and himself. He is a mad sports fan and loves to spend time on his family's farm near Warwick. David has always lived a busy life – school, camps, boys brigade, work and of course, supported his team, the Broncos.

It seems that nothing will get in the way of David's love of football.

"To be a Bronco player is a huge honour. You must work hard, live up to the jersey and, most importantly, take pride in the jersey," he says.

He regularly attends games with friends, family and his Five Good Friends Helpers. His heroes include Wally Lewis, Gene Miles and Trevor Gillmeister.

David's interests have been nurtured by his devoted parents, David Senior and Margie Crombie and siblings. David Jnr has worked hard to live an independent and fulfilling life with the support of his family. While David was born with Sotos Syndrome, he doesn't identify as living with an intellectual disability - it's just that for him, some things are a little harder – like balance, learning and fine motor skills.

A desire to live independently

When David first joined Five Good Friends, he was living at home with his parents. David was supported by a team of helpers including Deb, Megan, Libby and Jay.

Debby explained when she originally come on board to support David they talked about his goals.

"One was to live independently," she said.

"I just wanted to achieve a lot more with my life", David interrupts.

"Yeh, get out into the world a bit more, more into the community," Deb explained.

For David, getting out into the community meant getting to the football and trips with his mate Stevie and his Helper Earl. Together they have been to the Ekka, Australia Zoo, Currumbin Bird Sanctuary, Coochiemudlo Island and of course, to Suncorp to watch the Broncos.

"David was living with Mum and Dad. They would have the Helper come in three mornings a week. Just to help him get ready for work and to do shopping. I also used to come in some nights to teach David how to use the microwave. It was all about getting him ready to live independently."

David achieved that goal; he now lives in a unit just down the road from his parents' home. Living independently with support from his Helpers and his beloved family.

"I have four married sisters, four brother in-laws, 9 nephews and three nieces. It is a busy Christmas time," he jokes.

"Needless to say, living with his parents could be a little noisy when everyone came to visit. But now when you go up to home, you love it because they are all there, but you have got your own space to go home to." Debby says.

The transition – what has helped David?

When David set the goal to live independently, he approached it the same way he approaches the rest of his life - with enthusiasm, determination and focus.

"The aim was to help David get more and more independent. David has great skills, his family has been awesome. He has great social, living and working skills. He has worked in different jobs, and when I met him, he was working as a groundsman. David, his Mum and Dad have worked really well together. You've always had a job, " Debby says as she turns to David.

To transition to living on his own, David needed to learn – like shopping, using the microwave, and cooking.

A shopping booklet helped David independently manage his weekly shopping, address his diabetes, and ensure he had tasty and nutritional food.

"David is a man of habit, so predominantly it's the same foods. Instead of just taking him shopping, we said, "OK, well, let's do a shopping list" and split up.

"I took photos of all the different products and put them in a shopping book. It started as yes, we do need it, or no we don't. And it has morphed up to considering nutritional values, particularly low GI. We choose this one over that one. In stages, David learned in steps, and it's a great tool for him to use by himself," she said.

Dave loves the shopping book. "It is really helping me know what we need. Deb is also on me if I get too many of one thing," he adds with a grin.

Reviewing David’s hours of support

Debby quickly realised that the 10 hours that David had under the NDIS scheme was not nearly enough for his needs and to prepare for independent living.

As part of his NDIS review, Debby worked with David to develop an excel spreadsheet to show NDIS that he actually needed 34 hours.

Now with his extra hours, it has allowed him to do other things like learning how to cook and have more time with Helpers including Libby, Megan and Robbie – who David says – have also changed his life.

What is next for David?

Recently David has had some health complications, which have meant his goal planning has had to change a little.

"I think we were really looking for social goals. We were going to do dancing, go on a date and have dinner. But we have had a little bit of a spanner in the works. We are just going to jump straight into treatment, just sort of see where we pop out at the end."

What is certainly clear is that as soon as David gets through his treatment, he will be out and about with his smiling, happy self, embracing life with his family and friend and band of merry Helpers.

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