Logo of two hands holding up a person with text saying Every person with a disability has a right to be safe healthy and happy

15

JULY, 2017

The SHH Plan Idea

by | Safe Healthy Happy Plan

When multiple experts in disability agree with you, that there is nowhere else safe for a young man to live, you start to realise how badly a plan is needed. Parent being immortal is not possible yet!

This young man lived in a group home “managed” by a large disability service provider for 18 months. To say it was “not successful” is an understatement. In the middle of a formal complaint about the standard of his care, an ambulance was called because of dangerously low blood glucose levels – putting him at extreme risk of seizure, coma and sudden death.

After investigating the disability sector, it was realised he would always be at risk of abuse or neglect living in an institutional setting like a group home. (If you want to know how/why I came to that conclusion, check out the “supported accommodation” section).

So, if not living with a parent – and not living in aged care (he’s in his twenties for goodness sake!) or supported accommodation (tried that, got abused!) – where can a profoundly disabled young person live and be safe, healthy and happy?

With the help of his two older brothers – and the NDIS –  a plan was devised. This part of the website will document the plan and the progress to secure his future.

Access to safe housing is a basic human right

The only way for this young man to get the same human and tenancy rights as everyone else, is for him to rent accommodation. This is not going to be easy as there are accessibility requirements specific to his physical disability.

Luckily, there are some houses which have bathrooms with showers that are accessible for someone who requires assistance, even if they were not specifically designed that way.

This person also has a 2.3m wheelchair bus – usually too high to go into a garage – and sometimes too long to be in a driveway.

There needs to be no steps – although he does have a safe, aluminium ramp if the perfect house was found with one or two steps to the entrance.

Preferably main windows are floor to ceiling. This is because the young man does not use his wheelchair in the house and prefers to sit on the floor rather than in a chair. He can see out to the world if the windows are floor to ceiling.

“The state of affordable, accessible housing for people with disability is a disgrace”

This young man require’s 24/7 support and so requires that he has someone sleeping in the house with him every night. So a minimum of 2 bedrooms is needed – preferably with a third room that can be used as an office as there will be a large team of workers to support him.

Let’s recap what the accommodation requirements are so far … no steps, 2 bed+, shower which has no lips, a flat floor and wide door, doors wide enough for wheelchair, room for 2.3m wheelchair bus – and of course, it needs to be affordable on the Disability Support Pension!

 

Photograph by my son using iPad + filter
“Big Brother”

Coburg and Preston are neighbouring suburbs in North Melbourne

After this young man was abused and he went home to live with a parent, it was difficult for them to trust external support workers to support him. The Victorian DHHS provided some ISP funding and so, on his behalf (as permitted under the Vic ISP guidelines), his two older brothers were directly employed as his support workers. They travelled four hours to do this.

For his long-term security, it makes sense that he lives close to the two people who will be responsible for ensuring his safety and happiness when his parent is unable to do so.

So the next piece of the puzzle, is that the rental property needs to be close to North Melbourne.

So now the most important rental property requirements have been pinned down:

  • Location – near or in North Melbourne
  • 2-3 bedrooms
  • Maximum 2 steps to entry
  • Parking for the 2.3m bus on-site
  • Preferably Floor to Ceiling Windows
  • Bathroom with a shower base with no lip and easy access door/no door
  • Affordable

Doesn’t seem too bad – but just try going and searching rental property websites and see there are exactly 0 (zero) wheelchair accessible houses.

This could take a while >.<