While climbing the tree, Jonathan fell, breaking his neck in three places. He would never walk again.
The injury, which was to his spinal cord, left Jonathan quadriplegic, meaning he can’t use his lower limbs.
Initially, Jonathan was allocated hours and assistance by a care company working on behalf of the HSE, but then he switched to a direct payment scheme — state money now goes directly to Jonathan so that he can assess his own needs and personally choose the care that’s right for him.
“I have so much more independence now and so many more goals to achieve and so much more understanding of my own worth and my own abilities,” he said.
“I’m able to take on new aspects such as study and plan out things that I wouldn’t have had the ability to do before because I would have had no control over my care or how my assistants would have been managed,” he said.
Since everyone’s circumstances are different, Jonathan believes people with disabilities should not be given a ‘one size fits all’ method of care and should instead be allowed to make their own decisions.
As a result of the direct payments scheme, Jonathan was able to return to education and is currently studying business at the University of Limerick.
He’s also preparing for another life-changing event coming up in a couple of weeks — getting married to his partner, Hannah.