I’m probably one of the only people to travel overseas and get so excited about a medical facility that I ask for a tour. But the MAC – Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland is no ordinary medical centre and I feel that if I strive to talk about disability best practice, I need to see best practice in action. So when I was visiting San Antonio, Texas for a travel conference and learned of the work happening at the MAC, I popped in to see it for myself. You may wonder why I’m sharing this information, but it’s simple, I believe sharing ideas across the globe can open up possibilities. We need to learn from others, talk about what we need as a disability community and have faith that things will improve. While we have good health care in Australia, I think the care is fractured rather than holistic. The MAC has a holistic approach that puts families and individuals with a disability first, avoiding many of the frustrations associated with health care.
MAC – Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland – comprehensive care for people with a disability
The MAC – Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland was founded by Gordon Hartman, the visionary behind Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s most inclusive theme park. As the father of a daughter with a disability, Gordon understands the system, and the many flaws in health care for people with a disability. Walking through the MAC it’s obvious that it has been created by someone with lived experience and in consultation with other people with various disabilities.
The MAC – Multi-Assistance Center works on a unique model. When people become MAC members (people are known as members rather than clients or patients) they are assigned a Navigator. At intake, the Navigator learns about all the needs of the person with a disability and they assess what is needed. The Navigator looks at what the MAC member needs from a medical, therapeutic, social, financial, educational and legal point of view. See, I told you it’s holistic in its approach. Members share their story and history which is entered into a system for referrals, tracking and updates as services are received.
How exhausted do we all get retelling our story, medical history and starting fresh when a therapist or medical professional retires or leaves. The Multi-Assistance Center is designed to avoid that frustration and deliver a greater level of care.
Once the intake is completed each MAC member receives a score which indicates the level of navigation resources they need. They will then be assigned to a Navigator that will be their guide through the care they need on all levels. A team of 51 Navigators work at MAC and there is no fee to meet a Navigator.
As I walked the hallways of the MAC at Morgan’s Wonderland I was astounded at the vast range of services all offered under one roof. Speech therapy, audiology, vision, physiotherapy, legal services and more are available to MAC members. The MAC also offers services off-site through partners which are still covered under the MAC model, meaning that a MAC member’s Navigator will still be guiding the care.
Braeden has blood drawn for a pathology check each time he has his teeth cleaned under sedation so I value the fact the MAC offers multiple procedures while a person is under a general. How great to have a team working in harmony like that. When we do it I feel we are asking a special favour.
Every detail of the MAC at Morgan’s Wonderland reflects true inclusion from the art on the walls to the facilities provided. The level of thought and love that has been put into the Multi-Assistance Center is palpable.
There is a café with great circulation space for wheelchair users and like the rest of the building it is light, bright and welcoming.
Large unisex accessible bathrooms are provided with an adult-size change bed. The only thing missing is a hoist, which I of course gently mentioned.
The MAC aims to improve the lives of individuals living with a disability through comprehensive and coordinated services in a centralised setting. It seems simple right? And yet, it in my experience it’s unique. To most of us caring for someone with a disability, or living with a disability, the care model should be easy but it seems sadly lacking in most medical and therapy settings. We definitely felt a huge gap when we transitioned from the children’s hospital system to the adult system. It was far from seamless and there weren’t just gaps but huge cracks in the system.
A person centered approach where everyone feels cared for and empowered is what we need. We need consistency and compassion. As a parent I want to feel valued and understood. As I toured the MAC I felt that it would offer the level of care I dream of and I hope that this model is replicated around the world. For now, residents of Texas are the lucky ones who have access to the Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland.