Annette Johns was driving with her 14-month-old son in Marong when her car came off the road and crashed into a tree.
While her son escaped with only a cut on his shoulder from the seat belt, Mrs Johns acquired a brain injury that left her in a coma.
The then-47-year-old, who had been an accomplished horse vet, was transferred to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne where she spent six weeks in a coma.
That was the start of 14 years of moving from place to place for care.
After she was discharged from hospital in mid-2005, Mrs Jones spent about 10 months in an aged care facility in Ivanhoe, in Melbourne's north east.
Annette's husband Graham Johns then brought his wife back to Bendigo where they both had grown up, got married and started a family together.
Mrs Johns received care in the Anne Caudle centre for about six weeks before she was transferred to an aged care facility in Bendigo. The now 61-year-old spent the next three years of her life in the centre.
"I was trying to get her out well before then," Mr Johns said. "But I was told by certain people that she wouldn't be allowed home for half a day.
"The professors said she would probably never eat again and she would probably never drink again. She was on 24 medications a day at the time."
Since the car crash, Mrs Johns has been unable to eat or drink on her own. She cannot walk or wash herself, and she has very limited speech.
Mr Johns said those early years after the crash were particularly difficult as he worked to look after his young son, while also provide care for his wife.
"I haven't worked since the crash," Mr Johns said. "My son was only a baby at the time. So I had to feed him, change his nappies, do all of that sort of stuff.
"I would go do the shopping and I would take him with me. We also had trotters that we used to race and I used to take them to the races and stuff like that.
"It was pretty hard. I did most of it myself."
Despite those challenges, after three years in the Bendigo aged care facility Mr Johns pushed to bring his wife home. She returned to their Marong property in July 2009.
Mr Johns said he took it upon himself to improve her condition.
"I started giving her little bits of yoghurt on a spoon," he said. "I'd only give her five spoonfuls. I would keep going for a while and then I would give a bit more.
"Then after a while I would cut back on a tin of fibre source - that's the liquid food we had been feeding her.
"I would cut back half a tin in the morning and then I would give her a bit more food. Then after a while, I would cut back half a tin in the evening.
"So she was originally taking in five tins of fibre source a day. I'd cut back half a tin and then I got her up to a stage where she would have one meal a day.
"I kept weaning her off that all the time, until I got her off them all. She will eat solid foods now, but they're vitamised."
Since Mrs Johns has been home, there have been a number of carers who have assisted Mr Johns. The 67-year-old said he spends about 116 hours a week providing care for his wife.
While he wouldn't change that, he said there have been times where the quality of support has been lacking.
"This is not a training school," Mr Johns said. "They should be trained at a training school. I'm not actually a trained carer myself, but I know what I'm doing.
"I don't want to be standing around there for hours training people because I don't get paid for it.
"We've been trying to do it ourselves. But we need people who are going to help us. We don't need people who are going to hinder us."
Mrs Johns was given 10 carers in 2009. Mr Johns said the carers supported him for a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon.
The Johns now have four carers who provide support for about six hours a day.
"I do get a long Sunday every second week to take my son out," Mr Johns said. "I also get a little bit of time to go to the men's shed on Mondays and Fridays.
"But while we've got more hours of support now, we have less carers. I don't know how that works."
Mr Johns said he was also concerned why people who have acquired brain injuries were being placed into aged care facilities rather than specialist services.
"A lot of people with brain injuries are sent to nursing homes," he said. "It doesn't matter how old you are - you could be in your teens, you could be in your 30s or 40s or whatever.
"You're put into a nursing home and the nursing home staff are not trained to look after these people."
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Mr Johns said carers should be taught how to administer higher levels of care from the start of their education.
"They muck about with bookwork too much instead of the hands-on stuff that means something," he said.
"I wouldn't have to do much hands-on work to get a job - I guarantee you. I could run rings around any of these people."
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare determines one in 45 people have an acquired brain injury in Australia - that's about 500,000 Australians.
Brain Injury Australia believes that figure could be even higher because there may be people who have not registered their injury or are living outside the service sector.
Mr Johns said his wife's story would more common than many realised.
"Brain injuries are not reported as much as what dementia and spinal injuries are, but there are lot of people with brain injuries," he said. "There needs to be more high quality, hands-on care to help these people."
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