Supported Homes of the Future
In 2013, OC Connections (or Oakleigh Centre as it was then known) received a $14 million state government grant for a joint redevelopment project to replace its 35-year-old congregate facilities (among the last still operating in Victoria) with five new supported living homes built in suburbs throughout metropolitan Melbourne. The two dated congregate facilities featured communal bathrooms and living areas and offered limited opportunity for privacy or individual interaction. Those that lived there had little choice or control over their accommodation or experience in personal decision making. Most had never lived anywhere else.
A New Way of Planning
Planning for the redevelopment began immediately and included those who would be living in the new homes, their families and support staff. Key to the redevelopment project’s success was identifying what assistance was required to meet individual needs and to develop a model of supported housing that reflected the personal tastes and preferences of how each person wanted to live.
It was a fresh, innovative approach to supported living for people with disabilities. For the first time, those that would be living in the homes would determine what the homes would look like, how they would be decorated, and what assistive technology would be required to maximise independence and give each a greater sense of control over their own lives.
Research conducted among the prospective residents found those moving into the community wanted to live with fewer people in smaller houses or unit complexes, in a way that promoted their connection to their local community and encouraged independence.
More detailed personal needs, like bathroom and toilet requirements, kitchen and laundry adaptations, floor finishes, intercoms, garden landscaping and bedroom and living room configurations formed part of the architect's brief. All plans were submitted to residents, their families and staff, for feedback and consultation.
The final of the five homes – each an outstanding example of respecting an individual’s choices and decisions - was completed at the end of 2016 and all homes are now open.
Key to the successful move of residents from congregate care to supported community living is OC Connections’ Residents Advisory Group, made up primarily of those living in the new homes.
In planning the move, the group worked with staff and other residents to alleviate any fears and to ensure everyone’s needs and wishes were considered. Many take seriously their responsibility to advocate for those who cannot voice their opinions as easily.
The group meets twice a month and is proactive in keeping up-to-date with current disability housing models, engages with community groups like the local police and fire services to provide safety education and advice, and often invites guest speakers to talk.
Click here to watch our short documentary about the project.
Official Opening at Clayton
In August 2016 we celebrated the official opening of our new supported home in Clayton.
Among those who attended this special event were Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, the Hon. Martin Foley; Member for Oakleigh, Steve Dimopoulos MP; OC Connections Chairman, Maurice Pitard; CEO, Therese Desmond; DHHS representatives and OC Connections Board members, staff, residents and families.
On August 10, 2016 we celebrated the opening of our new supported home in Rockbeare Court.
Thank you to the Hon. Minister Martin Foley, Steve Dimopoulos MP (State Member for Oakleigh), Maurice Pitard (President OC Connections), OC Connections Board Members, the Residents Advisory Group, Families, Friends and Neighbours, the Department of Health and Human Services, our Project Partners, Therese Desmond (CEO OC Connections), Executive Management and OC Connections Staff, for making the event a worthy celebration of this major redevelopment project (pictured below).
OC Connections acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.