The gift of movement

17 Oct 2022

The Young Adult Complex Disability Service (YACDS) at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne has received a very special gift: a MOTOmed mobility device, a passive motorised cycling machine that is accessible from a wheelchair. The device, which will make a significant difference to all YACDS patients, was purchased from funds raised at a memorial lawn bowls event held in memory of former YACDS patient, Ella Hitchen.

Carlee Holmes, Senior Physiotherapist from YACDS, said,” Ella and her family have left a very special legacy that will make an enormous difference to so many people and is greatly appreciated.

“The MOTOmed device has been on our wishlist for many years because we all need to move! MOTOmed provides patients who are unable to move and reliant on a wheelchair for mobility, the opportunity to move in a calming and rhythmical manner. The people I’ve tested it with can’t verbalise how it feels for them but they look really happy and relaxed while they’re using it. One parent said that every person with a disability should have one, and I completely agree!

We would like to acknowledge and thank, Andy Harborne, Manager – Complex Rehab, Aidacare Melbourne, for his ongoing support in the supply of the MOTOmed.

A fundraiser to remember a special lady

When Ella Hitchen was just nine weeks old, she developed Pneumococcal Meningitis, a life-threatening infectious disease that causes inflammation of the layers that surround the brain and spinal cord. The condition, which can now be vaccinated against at birth, left Ella with serious brain damage.

Ella’s mum, Karen, said that Ella had lots of different health issues. “She was non-verbal, had issues with feeding, and she wasn’t mobile. We were well supported with paediatric services. Then when she turned 18, Ella started to receive care from the YACDS team. We were actually a part of the pilot program! The team supported her with a range of services that assisted with all of her needs until she passed away in 2020.

Carlee was involved in Ella’s care for the entire time she was supported by YACDS. Carlee recalls, “Ella was non-verbal but you always knew how she was doing. She was a beautiful young woman. She had a really open, happy face, expressive eyes, and a big smile.”

The idea for the fundraising event came to Ella’s dad, Keith, in a dream. “A couple of months after Ella died, I had a recurring dream where she asked me to hold a tournament. She used to come to the bowls club with me. When I bowled, the ladies at the club would look after her.”

After a couple of false starts due to COVID lockdowns, the Ella Hitchen Memorial Charity Day was finally held at the West Coburg Bowls Club on 3 April 2022.  

Fourteen Level 2 teams from all over Victoria gathered for a friendly bowls competition.

Entry fees, raffles, donations and an online fundraising page resulted in $8,000 being raised for St Vincent’s.  

“The main focus of the event was to raise awareness and celebrate Ella’s life. The money we raised was a lovely bonus. We’re just so delighted the funds were able to purchase something the team wanted and needed,” Karen said.

What is the Young Adult Complex Disability Service?
The Young Adult Complex Disability Service (YACDS) is a transition service between paediatric and adult health care. Patients with conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, Rhett Syndrome, Hereditary Spastic Paresis and other disabilities transition and then are discharged on to community services.

YACDS supports around 200 people at any given time. The team ensure they’re linked with external medical services and medical specialists, such as neurology for seizure management. As well as an allied health team to manage their physical and equipment needs.

Transition can take one to a few years. Like Ella, some people with complex medical and allied health needs need to stay connected with YACDS.

You can set up your own fundraising page to host a fundraiser to support St Vincent’s Hospitals at: 


St Vincent's Foundation
Ground floor
Rear, 55 Victoria Parade
Fitzroy, Victoria 3065