Housing Crises for the Disabled
Facilities stretched as more left in state care
By Brigid O'Connell, Health Reporter - Herald Sun, Friday, October 31, 2014
More than 30 Victorian children with disabilities were relinquished into state care in the past year.
Disability agencies are warning the system already cannot cope with increased demand for accommodation and personal carers ahead of the National Disability Insurance Scheme rollout next year.
The NDIS has already started in Barwon, and 200 people are getting help for the first time.
But services say urgent investment is needed to help families in crisis and on the brink of abandoning their children in the meantime.
National Disability Service state manager James O'Brien said a survey of disability service providers confirmed the strain highlighted by the 11 per cent increase in service demand, as shown in the DHS annual report.
“The NDIS offers hope, but there needs to be some action in developing new housing options so when the NDIS does come around, families have got some certainty for the future," Mr O'Brien said.
Regional manager of innovation and leadership at community inclusion service Annecto, Adam Shickerling, said his organisation had worked with children who had been relinquished at the Royal Children's Hospital for at least six months.
"Families often drop their kids off at respite or the hospital and don't pick them up, because it means there has to be a response," Mr Shickerling explained. "If you go on the waiting list for accommodation, you have to wait years."
But a new Victorian-first model of care, involving iPad-controlled apartments and one roving carer, is helping young people with disabilities live independent and fulfilling lives.
Bree-Anna Synot spent a year homeless as an 18-year-old while at two hospitals, after her mother could no longer care for her complex needs at home.
With no state accommodation available, a nursing home looked most likely until community inclusion service Annecto found the wheelchair-bound teenager respite accommodation.
For six months Bree-Anna divided her week sleeping between two group homes, because the aggressive behaviour from residents posed a risk to her brittle bones.
In June the 20-year-old moved into one of these six Abbotsford units, in a demonstration partnership between Annecto, the Summer Foundation and TAG
"Three years ago I was in bed all the time. I was in so much pain," she said. "Now I feel like I've got a reason to live in this world."
A pre-election debate yesterday between Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge and Opposition spokeswoman Jenny Mikakos failed to unearth any new solutions to the accommodation shortages.
Mr O'Brien said while there was bipartisan support for the NDIS, the Government needed to give assurances about how to provide more creative housing options and support service providers to grow their workforce ahead of the scheme rollout in 2016.
LISA Comment: Minister Wooldridge and Shadow Minister Mikakos are providing families in crisis, at the end of their tether, with little choice but to abandon their family member to achieve, what cannot be achieved in diplomatic ways, a supported accommodation group home, or similar.
Initially, those abandoned are place in a respite house, thus reducing respite for those caring for their family member at home. With respite like hen’s teeth, those hanging-in, doing it tough at home in providing 24/7 care, get even fewer breaks.