Homes a mobile move for young disabled

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Putting down new roots: Resident Matt Inkstee, left, Yooralla manager Debbie Baker, resident Colleen Clancy and resident Chris Le Cerf plant a tree to celebrate the opening of a new unit for younger people with disabilities. Picture: Yanni

Putting down new roots: Resident Matt Inkstee, left, Yooralla manager Debbie Baker, resident Colleen Clancy and resident Chris Le Cerf plant a tree to celebrate the opening of a new unit for younger people with disabilities. Picture: Yanni

NEW housing built in Frankston will offer some independence to younger people with disabilities who have previously lived in aged care nursing homes.

The housing in Lardner Rd was officially opened last Friday (16 October) thanks to an innovative collaboration between Monash University, Mission Australia Housing, the Summer Foundation and disability service provider Yooralla.

Six purpose-built units have been designed for people with disability to allow ease of mobility and smart home technology enables residents to use smart phones or tablets to control heating, cooling and lighting. Support staff can be contacted remotely if there is an emergency.

Monash University provided the site for the units and will offer ongoing access to health profession students for help and support.

Monash University Occupational Therapy Department researcher Libby Callaway said the units will improve the quality of life for its residents.

“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,” she said.

Mission Housing Australia built the homes and will manage tenancies.

“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,” Summer Foundation executive manager Tom Worsnop said.

Yooralla offered advice on technology and design needs to provide 24 hour support to the units’ inhabitants. The Summer Foundation will analyse the project’s collaborative model for future housing for people with disability.

“The residents can choose how they spend their time, access high quality care and, importantly, be with people of their own age,” Yooralla CEO Dr Sherene Devanesen said.

The federal government funded the project in 2012 as part of the Supported Accommodation Innovation Fund (SAIF) introduced by Labor. Funding for onsite disability support will be provided by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

In June this year a Senate inquiry report on young people in nursing homes found “young Australians under the age of 65 currently occupy 5 per cent of residential aged care facility beds. This is primarily because the current disability system cannot provide appropriate supports and services for these young people.”

The Senate inquiry, initiated by West Australian Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds, recommended the federal government should compile a database, reviewed annually, of all younger people under the age of 65 living in residential aged care facilities and state governments should work with the federal government to move younger people from such “inappropriate care” within three years.

The Senate committee wanted nursing homes to quickly introduce new standards for younger residents in aged care homes for the next three years.

More than 7,100 younger Australians with intellectual and physical disabilities live in aged care homes across the country, according to the Senate inquiry report. Nearly 90 per cent are aged between 50-64.

First published in the Frankston Times – 26 October 2015

This article was amended on 28 October to report Tom Worsnop is executive manager at the Summer Foundation and not Mission Housing Australia CEO as originally stated.

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