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Stephen Owens sitting on the bench in the park

Stephen’s story is one that hit home for all of us at St Bart’s for one very simple reason – it could happen to any of us.

A highly experienced Quality Assurance Manager, Stephen was an employee of Chevron Corporation and was sent on assignment to Thailand. It was a dream opportunity and one he thoroughly enjoyed. It even led him to meeting and marrying his wife.

But in 2015, tragedy struck. At just 46 years of age, Stephen suffered a stroke and lost function of the left side of his body. Adding further complexity to the situation was that Stephen and his wife hadn’t had the opportunity to start the visa process before his stroke. Leaving Thailand to come back to Perth would mean leaving his wife, and that simply wasn’t an option.

With enough savings to get them by, Stephen stayed in Thailand while his wife cared for him. But eventually those savings dried up, and he had to make the difficult decision to return to Perth, alone.

Back on home soil, Stephen went from Royal Perth Hospital, to RUAH, and then found a place at St Bart’s Men’s Service in 2018.

“St Bart’s not only showed me compassion, but they also assisted me with obtaining Centrelink and the disability pension,” Stephen said.

In December 2019, Stephen was able to secure long-term stable housing through the Department of Communities and has since been receiving wraparound support from our BHP-funded Reconnecting Lives Program.

After numerous interventions from the neurologist, Stephen was advised that he would not be able to regain full use of his hand. Accepting this as his fate, he began looking at obtaining a mobility scooter that would allow him to become more independent.

With the help of his St Bart’s case manager, support was requested through NDIS and after three attempts, Stephen was finally approved for funding and provided with a six-month plan to look at options that would support his recovery. In this plan, he obtained weekly physio sessions that have shown immense progress in his journey.

“The physio sessions include electrical stimulation, which involves jump starting the nervous system and that has helped me a lot.

“In fact, I don’t need an electric scooter anymore…a bicycle will be better!”

It’s been a long journey for Stephen, but it hasn’t deterred him from setting his sights on two goals – bringing his wife to Australia and getting his career back on track.

“I’m extremely grateful for St Bart’s – they picked me up, dusted me off and got me going. Now it’s time for me to pick up where I left off and get back into the workforce.”

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