Building accommodation for the future

Frustrated at the low availability of specialist housing suited for people living with a disability, Assured Home Care has embarked on a bold new initiative.

Assured Home Care CEO, Julie De Jong describes how they have partnered with investors and builders to contribute to solving the shortage.

SDA Housing (Specialist Disability Accommodation) ensures the housing requirements of people with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs have a suitably designed and equipped home to live in.

Retrofitting or adapting existing housing often isn’t always the best solution. Many requirements, for example, ceiling (track) lifts, and access ramps require such significant structural changes that often it is simpler, more cost-effective and results in better aesthetics and functional outcomes when the home is designed and built from the ground-up.

A Government-funded report by the Summer Foundation, the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) and SGS Economics & Planning, identified that the existing supply of SDA needs to grow by 60% to house the 28,000 people the NDIS expects to fund.

The report identified a further 33,200 people with very high support needs who may require SDA on top of the 17,500 already accommodated.

As evidence of the shortage, 6,200 people are under 64 and are currently residing in aged care facilities.

SDA is expected to account for NDIS spending of AUD$700 million a year when the scheme is fully implemented.

The shift from a grants-based system to a market-based system (Consumer Directed Care) is forecast to create an AUD$5 billion disability housing market over the next five years.

The Government wants the private sector to solve this problem

It’s important to understand that the Government has designed the funding model to incentivise the private sector to develop a fully functioning, mature and competitive market to provide housing to NDIS participants.

SDA payment rates have been set to cover the cost of capital and to incentivise a new market.

Those currently living in SDA are predominantly people with intellectual disability, with the potential demand group consisting of a significant proportion of people with physical disability.

This profile suggests the future SDA cohort will need much more highly accessible housing.

“We experience the lack of available accommodation all the time,” said Assured Home Care CEO, Julie De Jong.

“Assisting clients with high care needs to find suitable accommodation is frustrating.”

Solving the problem

Julie De Jong explained “If the Government’s funding model aims to encourage the private sector to solve this problem, we thought – ‘right let’s do something’”
Assured Home Care has entered into a partnership with a builder and private investors to facilitate the construction of SDA housing.

“Having worked in the disability care sector for over a decade has provided us with special insight into how to design a home that best facilitates the delivery of specialist care to high need clients.”

Assured Home Care has worked with architects and assistive technology experts to design their SDA Housing.

“We are aiming to solve a number of problems” Julie De Jong explained.

“It’s one thing to cater for client’s with high needs through solving the technical and practical issues, but it is also important to provide for the person’s quality of life. If you are not careful, you end-up with a home that doesn’t look much different to a hospital – and that’s just not acceptable.”

High aesthetic, fit for purpose and energy efficient

While tailoring for the special needs of high care clients, the new venture also seeks to incorporate the latest in home building trends.

The homes are comfortable, contemporary designs, incorporating every modern feature found in the family home.

In addition, the design incorporates eco-friendly energy-efficient technologies. Extensive use of solar power, energy-efficient appliances, and high levels of thermal insulation have been adopted in their construction.

“When I set-up Assured Home Care with my daughter, we both committed to the concept of putting the client’s needs first including ensuring their quality of life is maximised”
The first three homes being built under the new venture, located in the Marion Council Area. are almost complete.

“We are very excited by what we have achieved. Having direct input into building SDA Housing that we ourselves would be happy to live in, fills me with joy” said Julie De Jong.

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