To assess the role of Group Homes in Australia, a study was undertaken. Nine group homes were selected to participate in the study. These were run by two not-for-profit organisations and serviced 283 people with ID and mental health disorders. Preliminary meetings revealed that seven of the homes met the inclusion criteria, while two were excluded due to the more independent nature of their residents.
One of the strengths of group homes is the emphasis on personalised care and activities. According to a study by Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, group homes are ranked above residential aged care providers on the ability to tailor care for residents. Respondents also praised the staff for being engaged and compassionate.
Group homes also help people with disabilities live independently, with the help of other people. The participants in the study were predominantly middle-aged people with mild to moderate disabilities. They received drop-in support for practical tasks and problem-solving. The participants’ QOL was rated similar to that of people living in group homes.
In the 2018 federal budget, the federal government allocated AUD 102.5 million to provide care for older Australians. This is approximately USD 71.7 million. This includes AUD 82.5 million for people who live in group homes and AUD 20 million for people living in the community. The money is allocated to various areas of social support, including suicide prevention, reintegration, and long-term care.
The study’s findings suggest that the location of group homes can affect their ability to access community facilities and activities. This can affect their ability to engage in social activities and build relationships. The location of a group home can affect accessibility and the cost of transportation. One study found that the presence of a staff member who prioritizes social inclusion may be more likely to encourage residents to participate in community activities and accompany them to social venues.
In addition, the residential service should not make decisions about services in isolation from the people with ID. It should actively involve the people with ID in decisions and the consequences of those decisions.
For more than 40 years, group homes have been the mainstay of disability services. Governments have provided funding and supported the homes, but have increasingly turned to non-government organisations to take the reins. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has also provided funding for some residents to live in shared arrangements.
While the NDIS has significantly increased funding for group homes, they are still far from universal. In addition, there are considerable variations in the number and types of group homes across the country. Many of the existing group homes are also outdated and not fit for purpose. The funding that will be provided by the SDA will bring in much needed new housing stock. But this will not be without risks.
A co-design co-living model is gaining momentum in Australia, and it may provide a range of benefits for people with disabilities. For example, it may provide greater access to Group Homes Australia social activities and green spaces. Traditionally, market-driven approaches to disability housing have favored cost effectiveness and replication over choice and design. Moreover, these models have often resulted in dwellings that have poor mobility and limited access to nature.