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Home of inclusion: overcoming isolation with new disability residence model

  • Australia’s largest investigation into the abuse and exploitation of people with disability highlighted that the current set up of group homes is not optimal with high levels of abuse and neglect.1

  • Commissioners want group homes phased out entirely over 15 years, arguing the model will "never realise the rights of people with disability."1

  • About 17,000 people with disability, mainly people with intellectual disability, live in group homes in Australia and they do not always get to choose who they live with.1

  • United For Care is a leading organisation in innovative disability housing and NDIS provider dedicated to combatting homelessness, tackling mental health challenges and reducing hospital re-admissions.

  • Social Inclusion Week (18-26 November) encourages communities to reconnect and be inclusive of all cultures, age groups, nationalities, and abilities.

Sydney, Australia – Friday 17 November 2023 – Social Inclusion Week: In support of Social Inclusion Week, United For Care is raising awareness of innovative solutions to provide housing and inclusivity to those living with disabilities. United For Care recently launched its new "Vertical Village" model, which aims to give people with disabilities more independence and support to provide a greater sense of security, safety and ownership.

Social Inclusion Week is an annual awareness campaign celebrated worldwide, which aims to help all Australians feel included and valued, giving everyone the opportunity to participate fully in society.

The Disability Royal Commission launched Australia’s largest investigation into the abuse and exploitation of people with disability. The findings unveiled data that showed abuse and neglect was pervasive in group homes with reports of the use of chemical and physical restraints to financial exploitation by staff members.1 Group homes are a type of specialist accommodation where several people with disability might live together and receive support from carers. The commissioners from the reports recommended phasing out group homes over a 15 year-period as the, “current practices in group homes can fail to keep people with disability safe and empowered to exercise choice and control, with opportunities to develop and build capacity.”1

United For Care created the Vertical Village model where people with disability can live life the way they choose. Its unique approach includes smart homes with in-house Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) and Supported Independent Living (SIL) specialists, enabling people with disability to live in their own apartments by themselves or with family, with access to 24/7 on-site support.

From the date of initial enquiry, participants are transitioned into their new United for Care homes within six weeks and are provided support with funding applications, navigating NDIS, plan uplifts and plan reviews. The design of Vertical Villages reduces the risk of aggressive incidents significantly by offering allied health referrals in as little as two weeks and working with a strong network of local hospitals and mental health units.

According to Viveka, a Vertical Village participant, and his support worker, Nicole, the opportunity to live in an innovative community that supports independence has had a positive impact on his life.

“We are no different to any other able-bodied human being. Everyone deserves to have equal opportunities and support to empower themselves. We are valuable the way we were born. United For Care sees and supports this. They are more like a family and have provided me with a home where I now have a sense of security and belonging within a community. I can’t thank them enough,” said Viveka.

In support of Social Inclusion Week, United For Care hopes to shed light on the importance of accessible housing as a cornerstone of social inclusion. Following the recent launch of a new site in Erskineville, United For Care now has over 10 Vertical Villages operating across New South Wales and have witnessed the positive impact the new housing model has had on the lives of more than 80 people with disabilities.

Erskineville participant, Faith, who has been at the Vertical Village since its launch said, “I have now lived in Erskineville for six weeks and I absolutely love it. I love having my own space to call home that I can chill and feel safe in. I also love having the super cool staff here. They are all so caring and are all proper legends. United for Care’s Erskineville site very quickly felt like home to me."

The organisation’s commitment extends beyond building the Vertical Villages to creating a more inclusive society where everyone is valued and embraced for who they are. With numerous services including varying lengths of accommodation, coordinated support and allied health, it truly is disability living reimagined.

Khoder Daher, CEO of United For Care, says the company is committed to supporting greater inclusion and recognising the needs of people living with disabilities.

"Social Inclusion Week is an important moment for us to reflect and gain a greater understanding of what it means to create a society that is truly inclusive. Our organisations’ mission is to create a society where everyone can live a life of independence and dignity, irrespective of their abilities," said Mr Daher.

"We specialise in designing homes that are truly inclusive, not just wheelchair accessible. We believe that a home should be a place of comfort, security, and empowerment."

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