Developing contemporary independent supported living options for people with intellectual disabilities
29 Jun 2022
People with intellectual disabilities and high support needs can find safe and secure housing providing the right supports are in place, according to new AHURI research.
The research, ‘Accommodating adults with intellectual disabilities and high support needs in Individual Supported Living arrangements’, undertaken for AHURI by researchers from Curtin University (and NTNU Social Research) and the University of Sydney examines Individual Supported Living (ISL) arrangements for persons with intellectual disabilities and high support needs.
‘The ISL approach supports people with intellectual disabilities to live in their own homes, whether they own a home, are renting, live alone or are with others in a supported accommodation home’, says lead researcher Professor Angus Buchanan of Curtin University. ‘It’s not focussed solely on the physical housing setting, as the mix of formal and informal supports available to the individual is central to the model.’
This research identified four successful approaches to ISL:
- Living alone: Support for person with intellectual disabilities may be across the range of 24 hours a day, seven days a week rostered formal support to informal (unpaid) support from family, friends or mentors. It is important that this support matches the support needs, wishes and preference of the focus person.
- Host family: This is where an adult person with intellectual disabilities lives with a host family to whom they are not related (also referred to as an alternate family arrangement or adult foster care).
- Co-resident: a person with intellectual disabilities lives in their own home with one or more co-residents who provide some support in exchange for free or reduced rent or board.
- Sharing with someone in an established relationship: Persons with intellectual disabilities may share their home with someone based on established friendships or an intimate relationship. It is important to reinforce that such arrangements are based on pre-existing relationships, rather than shared arrangements based on convenience, including for cost-saving reasons, particularly when sharing with other/s with disabilities.
The research shows ISLs contribute to positive outcomes and improved quality of life for participants. In particular, having their own space improved people’s choice, control and autonomous decision-making.
‘Participants in the study told us that having independence and autonomy in their daily activities and decision making was extremely important’, says Professor Buchanan. ‘Participants recognise the need for support but believe it should take the form or prompting or assisting them to enhance their skills rather than doing the task for them.’
The research identified that the lack of formal support services for people living in ISL arrangements can make it more difficult for them to achieve independence. In addition, there were lower rates of access to formalised services for people living in individualised residential homes or family homes.