For UpSkill Lead, Linda Hughes, spending time with other people with disability and their families taught her how to see things outside the box. This experience has prepared her to help support coordinators to make the most of Individualised Living Options (ILOs) that are now available through the NDIS.
Here, Linda discusses these experiences and how they helped shape her thinking.
A while ago, there was a segment on The Project featuring Bachelorette, Angie Kent, and her former housemate, Tom Hancock. Tom is a man with intellectual disability and Angie Kent was his housemate for several years. Angie was Tom’s friend and also provided Tom with some support. It was a great example of what we might call ‘individualised living’. Tom has a great social life, he is a part of his local community and has support from his housemate. At the end of the segment, Waleed Ali says, “it would never have occurred to me to do anything like that”. Which goes to show, you don’t know what you don’t know.
He is not alone. Many people, even in the disability sector, have not considered the idea of a person with disability leading a typical life in the community, with friends, just like most people.
I think we were fortunate that my son was very young when I first heard about individualised living arrangements. I was inspired after a chance meeting with another parent whose adult son was moving into his own home with supportive housemates. Again, the idea of this man living in his own home was steeped in the idea of him leading a good life, with friends around, included and active in the community.
Over time, I met many more people with disability and their families who were creating their own individualised living arrangements with the belief that people need relationships, friendships and to be part of the community. Each arrangement was as unique as a fingerprint, with practical approaches to meeting the person’s support needs. For example, a roster of friends taking turns to come for dinner, providing companionship and assisting with evening support.
What individualised arrangements have in common is a strong desire and commitment that the person with a disability should and could have a good life included and active in the community.
With the NDIA releasing the Individualised Living Options (ILO) operational guidelines in late April, we can start to understand how ILO will work in the NDIS world and what support coordinators need to know. It is clear that the NDIA sees an important role for support coordinators in assisting participants through the ‘explore and design’ stage of ILO. This is the first stage of ILO and involves supporting the person’s vision for their future home. This stage includes helping everyone involved understand the full range of opportunities in the community, including innovative and non-service solutions to meet support needs.
This could be a tough gig if support coordinators don’t have prior experience assisting people with disability to create their own ILO arrangement.
UpSkill webinar: Individualised Living Options – as unique as a fingerprint
To help you learn more about Individualised Living Options (ILO), the UpSkill team is hosting an online webinar with a panel of experts who have experience and knowledge of ILO. The panel comprises of a parent of a person with disability who is living in an ILO, a capacity builder, an ILO provider and an NDIA representative.
11am–1pm AEST, 23 June 2021 – to find out more click here
It is terrific that ILO is gaining traction as an option for more people with disability, however it is also important that ILO retains the focus on people with disability leading a good life, with friends around, included and active in the community.
There are a lot of resources to help support coordinators get a better idea of what ILO can look like for a person with disability. You can learn more about ILO on the Housing Hub website here. Many resources have been made by people with disability and their families. These are a great place to start. Check out Adam Moves Out, Enabling Home – Housemates, and Jac’s Place, where my son and I talk about creating his individualised living.
I’d recommend reading this Individual Supported Living Manual which draws on the research of individualised living and explains key components of these arrangements.