New housing opens for people with disability

DATE: 16 October 2015

New housing opens for people with disability

New innovative housing aimed at reducing the number of younger people with disability who reside in aged care nursing homes has been opened in Frankston.

New innovative housing aimed at reducing the number of younger people with disability who reside in aged care nursing homes has been opened in Frankston.

The project has been developed through a partnership involving:

  • Monash University’s Occupational Therapy Department – who established the collaborative project, provided the site, and will deliver a comprehensive project evaluation and offer residents the choice to access support through health profession students
  • Mission Australia Housing (Victoria) – who built the house and will manage tenancies
  • Summer Foundation – who advised on suitable assistive technology and building design and will assist with translation of research outcomes to inform the development of future similar projects, and
  • Yooralla – who advised on the technological and design requirements and will provide 24 hour support to the residents.
The Federal Government funded the initiative in 2012 as part of the Supported Accommodation Innovation Fund (SAIF). Ongoing funding for onsite disability support will be provided by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

Six purpose-built units have been designed for people with disability and include initiatives to allow ease of mobility, use of reinforced building materials, and easy and flexible installation of hoists and fittings to meet individual needs.

The design of the units encourages independence and security, including smart home and communications technologies able to be operated via a tablet or smart phones to:
  • initiate contact with support staff in case of an emergency
  • provide units with home automation to allow control of heating, cooling and light conditions in their home, and
  • offer potential in the rest of the units for easy installation of other home automation, if required by a resident.

An important aspect of this project is the chance to make use of clinical placements by Monash University’s health professional students studying OT, physiotherapy and nursing. This  allows residents to access additional skilled supports for rehabilitation programs, community activities, and skills development.

Libby Callaway, Researcher from Monash University’s Occupational Therapy Department and one of the initiators of the project, said that this innovative collaborative model provides a pathway to more independent living for people with disability.

“Excellent location and design of the housing, coupled with access to targeted support from Monash health professional students, has the capacity to enhance the tenants’ participation in home and community life,” said Ms Callaway.

Residents will live independently but can call on a staff member on site for assistance day and night. Yooralla CEO Dr Sherene Devanesen said that the project gave people with disability independence and choice.

“The new Frankston accommodation will support people with disabilities to live in an inclusive environment within the wider community who would otherwise have to live in nursing homes. The residents can choose how they spend their time, access high quality care and, importantly, be with people of their own age,” said Dr Devanesen.

Summer Foundation Executive Manager, Tom Worsnop, added that people with disabilities are crying out for innovative ideas in housing and support, balancing the desire for privacy and control with the provision of individually tailored supports they require to live independently.

“This development represents a real opportunity for six people to live with greater independence compared to more traditional shared housing models offered in the disability sector,’ said Mr Worsnop.

Chris Bratchford, Executive, Housing from Mission Australia Housing (Victoria) said that he was very excited to see the project come to fruition.

“This housing project is a great example of organisations working together collaboratively to deliver a fantastic outcome for people with disability. We believe that this home will provide learnings on meeting the needs of customers as we transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme,” said Mr Bratchford.

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