Home support needed for young people with disability

Urgent investment is needed to ensure the streamlined development of supported housing that provides independent living for young Australians with a disability, while also managing their healthcare needs, according to...

Urgent investment is needed to ensure the streamlined development of supported housing that provides independent living for young Australians with a disability, while also managing their healthcare needs, according to a report released today. 

Researchers examined the experiences of people who had moved from nursing homes to live in small-scale supported residential settings (SSA’s) offering assistive technology and disability support services, such as attendant care workers. They analysed how these services influenced the independence, health and lifestyle of young people with a disability.

The study followed the outcomes of 173 residents (91 per cent were under 65 years of age) from 25 supported accommodation sites delivered by disability service organisations across Victoria, NSW and the ACT.

When compared to those living in nursing homes, it found young people living in supported residential accommodation were more active at home, and more social and engaged in community activities including shopping or leisure. 

Monash University’s Libby Callaway, Department of Occupational Therapy, said the research highlighted the need for a wider range of housing and support models for those eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). 

“It’s a dire issue that needs urgent action – young people with a disability who need daily care all too often find themselves languishing in nursing homes for the elderly,” Ms Callaway said. 

“Participation and individual outcomes can be enhanced through moves from aged care to small-scale, well located and designed supported accommodation. NDIS participants require a range of accommodation options and building of housing careers and pathways.” 

The report revealed that visiting friends and relatives, or maintaining work or study remained a challenge for people with a disability. 

Ms Callaway said this highlighted the need for the NDIS and other key stakeholders to continue to focus on building social and economic participation for people with severe disability.

The report comes as the NDIS rolls out nationally with some major policy and planning challenges remaining.

“The NDIS is not intended to meet health and rehabilitation needs which state or territory health departments have traditionally addressed. However, NDIS participants experience a range of complex health support needs intertwined with the disability they experience,” Ms Callaway said. 

“Although this group will meet NDIS eligibility criteria, their disability support needs impact their medical, rehabilitation and healthcare needs. With needs across multiple systems, action to redefine and effectively coordinate this health-disability interface within the new world of the NDIS is needed urgently.” 

Launched today at a forum for hospital discharge planners in the Victorian NDIS trial site in Geelong, this collaborative research project was led by Summer Foundation, Yooralla, Monash University’s Occupational Therapy Department and MS Australia, in conjunction with providers and tenants of supported accommodation from Victoria, the ACT and NSW.