Responding to a clear need in the community, Independent Disability Services (IDS) in partnership with EACH Housing opened an innovative, six unit apartment in Ringwood on 16 August. The apartments have been designed to enable people with a disability to live independently while sharing the support that they each require from IDS. The development has been designed and constructed to provide independence and community connection for its residents – basic human rights so often lacking in shared accommodation.
Supported by a grant from the Federal Government through the Supported Accommodation Innovation Fund with land and other funding provided by EACH, the development provides residents with their fully self-contained unit with a kitchen, bathroom, double bedroom, living/dining area and laundry. While the focus of the building is on independent, self-contained apartment living, it also has shared areas for socialisation with family, friends and other residents. Importantly, the units are designed to be homes,
“This new development places the residents in control of their physical living environment as well as all decisions regarding their day-to-day supports. So often people with significant disabilities simply have to ‘fit in with’ the available accommodation as well as existing support arrangements.”
Statistics show that not only are there close to 6,500 young people with disabilities living inappropriately in aged care facilities. There are over 80,000 ageing parents struggling with the constant worry about who will support and care for their children when they no longer can.
IDS and EACH are committed to providing living and support concepts that will enable people with disabilities to live an age-appropriate and independent lifestyle. Facilitated living design, such as is embedded in the Ringwood project, unlocks capabilities for independence not previously realised by individuals with a disability and creates new opportunities for community involvement. On the other hand, parents and other family members, who may have had to provide continuous care, can also explore new opportunities such as study, employment or recreation. This is a far cry from the experience of many ageing parents and people with disabilities currently.
The Ringwood project has been built on a model of independent yet cooperative living with the provision of supportive technology and carer support. This development incorporates environmentally sustainable design and the latest in supportive technology including automated doors to apartments and balconies and tablet technology for important operations such as controlling heating, blinds and lights, allowing residents greater mobility and careful design of bathrooms and other facilities to facilitate care and independence.
“Like myself, many young people with disabilities just want to live independently in a home of our own and get our lives back. I want to live in a safe environment and be able to make everyday decisions about my life,” notes Cara, one of the residents.
EACH Housing’s mission is to provide a genuine neighbourhood environment for people experiencing housing insecurity which ties in perfectly with IDS’ vision to ensure people with disabilities have the support they require to live the life they want.
“The team at IDS has been working closely with residents, their support networks and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). We have taken the time to understand the resident’s needs and their preferences so that we can ensure the support provided is tailored to their individual needs and enables them to achieve their goals. IDS appreciates the support of DHHS for funding the work required to coordinate supports for the residents. This has enabled IDS to maximise the use of clients’ funding by sharing supports where possible.” said Jed Macartney CEO, IDS.