12 things to look for when choosing a group home
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12 things to look for when choosing a group home

Disability Group homes have been in Australian communities for many years, providing housing for people with disability. They are designed to be places where residents can receive the support they need, while staying connected and enjoying the benefits of shared living.

In the past, disability homes have resembled institutions and had lack of choice for residents, but thankfully, things are different today. Providers now focus on delivering empowering support that promotes dignity, self-esteem, choice and independent living.

Not all group homes are the same, so it’s worth doing some research so you can choose a home that not only meets NDIS and Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) standards, but is right for you.

To help get you started here are 12 things to look for when considering a group home, and some questions to ask a provider when deciding where to live.

1. Your choices are always respected.

A disability home should be a place where you are supported to make your own choices, whether it’s expressing your preferences, deciding your daily activities with plenty of options, taking part in planning meals, or having a say over what your support looks like. Staff should make you feel empowered and in control. They should include you in the decision making process when it comes to your services, plans and goals.

Questions to ask: how do you decide activities for each day? What is your approach towards providing support and decision making? How are the rights of people with disability respected in this home?

2. You are always treated with dignity.

You should always be valued as an individual and treated with respect. In a group home environment, this will mean that you have privacy for personal care, and a a sense of ownership over your space. You are treated as an equal, aren’t discriminated against, and your opinion and point of view is taken into consideration.

Questions to ask: are there spaces for privacy in the home? Are the residents of the home happy, respected and valued as human beings? How do the care team treat residents?

3. You have opportunities to engage with the community.

A good group home will have plenty of opportunities to be included as part of the community, whether through outings, programs, everyday activities, getting education or getting help with finding a job. The home should look similar to other houses in the area, and ideally be located with good access to things like public transport, shops, health care facilities, libraries and recreation spaces.

Questions to ask: what opportunities are there to do things in the community? Are you able to pursue the things you’re interested in? Is the group home located close to the things you need?

4. You’re supported in an active way.

Research shows that being enabled to take part in activities and social relationships has better outcomes for residents living with disability. Staff should support you to do things for yourself, and help you build your skills. Your support should be person-centred and empowering, as people do things with you, rather than for you.

Questions to ask: what does disability support look like in the group home? What opportunities will you have to build skills and learn new things? What social activities can you be a part of?

5. It’s a place where you can be happy and well.

Wherever you live, you should feel valued, listened to and cared for, with measures in place to look after your mental health and wellbeing. The environment should also suit your disability needs, from the level of sensory input and stimulation within the home, to being able to have friends and family visit you.

Questions to ask: do you have a good feel for the place when you visit? Do you feel comfortable and relaxed? Are you able to get along with your future housemates? How do staff care for the residents’ mental health and wellbeing?

6. It’s a place where you can be healthy and safe.

Your physical health is important. You should have all the support you need to take care of yourself, whether it’s medication management, allied health therapy, health monitoring, personal care and complex health care. You should also feel safe and secure, have access to good nutritious food, and be able to do exercise you enjoy?

Questions to ask: how are meals managed in the home (and are you involved in the preparation)? Will your health needs be taken care of? Is medical care close by, when you need it? Will you be supported to do exercise you enjoy?

7. The home has the right number of people and staff.

It’s important to find a place where you can make friends, but have enough space for privacy and time on your own. A disability home should have no more than six residents, with enough staff to support people’s needs. Research also shows that homes with a mix of personalities, abilities and support needs are beneficial to residents and lead to better outcomes.

Questions to ask: how many people live in the disability home? Can you arrange to meet them before moving in, or to visit the home and see what it’s like? How many staff provide support at the group home?

8. The home is accessible for your needs.

While all group homes must be built to rigorous NDIS standards for accessible housing, it’s important to check the home is an inclusive environment with all the aids you need. This may include things like hand rails, easy to use appliances, larger doorways, fall alarms and closely located to accessible public transport.

Questions to ask: if you have limited mobility, will be able to access all areas of the home? Can you live safely and comfortably in the space? Do you have access to transport if you need it?

9. The staff culture is a healthy one.

You can learn a lot by observing the way staff relate to each other and treat residents in a group home. A healthy staff culture is one where all people are respected no matter who they are, frontline workers are empowered and happy, and residents are treated with warmth, compassion and humanity.

Questions to ask: how do staff relate to each other, and to residents? Do they seem happy to be at work? Do they treat residents with dignity and respect?

10. Your feedback is encouraged, not ignored.

In a group home, it should be easy to give your feedback, speak out if you’re not happy about something, or ask a question about your support. Staff should have a process for taking your feedback on board, so you feel heard and that your opinion matters.

Questions to ask: what’s the process for giving feedback? What happens to feedback once it is given? Who can you speak to if you have a problem or a question?

11. You’re empowered to reach your goals

Being able to reach your unique goals is important, so you can continue living independently, develop new skills and build your self-esteem. Being a resident in a group home should give you plenty of opportunities to work on your goals with plenty of encouragement and support, and participate in activities that enhance your quality of life.

Questions to ask: how will disability support workers help you reach your goals? What will your plan look like? How will it be followed up?

12. It’s a place you love! 

Your place should feel just like home. It should be somewhere you feel comfortable and safe. This could mean being able to customise your bedroom, having space for your own photos and artwork, being friends with the other residents, having a say in things like meals and how the house is run.

Questions to ask: take a tour of the place and see if you like the way it feels. Could you live here? Does it feel comfortable and inviting? Is this a place where you want to live? What are the experiences of people living there?

Home Caring group homes

Home Caring provides high quality group homes where residents are valued, supported and connected with the community. As a registered NDIS provider, we cater for a wide range of support needs. Our homes are built to high quality standards so that you are safe and comfortable.

Other features we offer are:

  • A Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) building if you have high level care needs;
  • Help with daily tasks, daily routine and personal care for individuals with disability;
  • Support for people living with intellectual disability;
  • 24/7 care for complex clients with severe disability;
  • Comfortable outdoor and indoor areas with plenty of space for socialising and privacy;
  • private bedroom which you can customise to your taste;
  • Security features so people with disability can feel safe;
  • Accessibility for people with mobility issues;
  • Close to amenities like the shops, parklands, medical centres and public transport;
  • Well located so it’s easy to get to medical appointments, day programs, places of study;
  • An opportunity to make friends and meet other people in a safe environment;
  • Access to WiFi so you can stay connected;
  • Access to Supported Independent Living (SIL) supports;
  • A committed team of expert carers and support workers on hand to provide support;
  • An opportunity to build skills and take part in social activities and join Disability Day programs;
  • Social activities and opportunities to do the things that you enjoy.

For more information about our accommodation options, to find out if we have a group home in your area for adults with disability, or for more information about our disability services, please get in touch.

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