Jo: Well, my understanding of ILO I think is Individualised Living Options, which is about coming up with more flexible alternatives to, either in our case, living at home with your parents all your life or going into 24 hour paid support care group home type model.
Carla: Home share is living with a supportive flatmate. It's not living with a carer. What the supportive flatmate will provide them is friendship, mentoring, somebody to talk to, somebody to share meals with, somebody to connect with. So, home share is not a new concept. It's been operating for around 40 years. It currently operates in 18 countries and it's really gaining traction. And what we know from it being operated in lots of countries over a really long period of time is that it's extremely safe.
Carla: This has to be something that people desire; passionately want. They need to want to live in a really connected way that's as close to normal as possible. So there's not one group of people that this works really, really nicely for. We know that we can support people who have extremely high support needs who are actually eligible for SDA that we know that if we provide the wraparound supports; if we put enough support workers in place to be able to support the home share arrangement, then we can make it work for pretty much anyone with any degree of support needs.
Jenna: We often talk about the fact that we think we kind of make it look easy because we want it to be a kind of stress free experience for families and for our clients. We get to know the person, their goals. We get to understand their family and we speak to any relevant supports.
Jo: They started working with Ned to look at what his desires were in terms of housing. Ned was very involved in it all.
Carla: And then after that, we will support them to write their ILO document, their ILO quote, try and secure the funding in people's plans to be able to move ahead, and continue to assess and design and explore the arrangement.
Carla: Once that's done, we move into the next phase, which is essentially we support people to find housing and supportive flatmates.
Jenna: Because we try and find flatmates who are genuine flatmates and not paid workers, we advertise in all the usual ways that any person would look for a flatmate. And then I get applications in, and with Ned, I was extremely inundated with people that wanted to live with him, because he's a very cool guy.
Jo: Ned's dad and I were sitting here thinking, "Oh, I wonder who they are and what's going to be like?" but feeling really pleased that there were other people involved, that we didn't have to do it all ourselves.
Carla: We start to interview flatmates. We short list flatmates. And we speak to the person and their families about the people who we're meeting. And then they'll choose who it is that they want to meet. Then we do managed introductions where we'll be there to introduce everybody.
Jenna: And then when they'd selected two flatmates that they wanted to go ahead with, I did police checks and reference checks for the flatmates to make sure that we felt from a safety point of view that they would be good flatmates for Ned. And then we set up the arrangement, arrange a moving date, sign what we call an occupancy agreement, which outlines what the supportive flatmates will do and how much money they'll bill from Ned's plan and what the rent will be. And then we set up a month trial.
Jenna: And throughout that trial, I'm very involved. So checking in with everybody, checking in with mum, the support workers, Ned, the flatmates. From that point, go into the monitoring and review phase, which is to make sure that everybody's happy, provide any mediation if it's needed, and just be available for people to call me and run anything past me if they have any concerns or questions.
Jo: If there's any whiff of it not going right, or the housemate not doing the right thing or whatever, they will be there with bells on, I absolutely know. And also if somebody wants to leave, then they will work through that process of finding a new housemate or two new housemates.
Jenna: This is a natural arrangement. So just like in any share house, sometimes people are going to want to move on for various reasons. If that were to happen, we ask that we get a minimum of a month's notice from the flatmate and that would give us time to find another flatmate.
Jo: If you've got an NDIS plan for your son or daughter, it's really important to have a housing goal in there really early on or moving out of home goal or becoming more independent because then that sort of sets the tone and then find if you need it support coordination to help look for housing and then find an organisation that you feel you can work with who are doing ILO.
Carla: So essentially the NDIA funds these home share living arrangements in two sections. The first section is what they call explore and design. And that initial phase is for a minimum of three months. And it's where we sit down with people, their supports, and we really get to know and understand what it is that they want. What are their housing goals? Where do they want to live? Who do they want to live with? We really understand and we start to create what that arrangement looks like. So that's the explore and design phase.
Carla: And then the second phase is really the action phase. So it's creating the actual match, setting it up, finding the flatmates, finding the housing and then providing the ongoing support, monitoring, and mediation to the arrangement and then redesigning and rematching, if we need to.
Carla: If people think that they want home share or they want ILO and they don't have ILO funding in their plan, that doesn't mean that they can't start working towards their goals. If people are wanting to live in a much more creative connected way and they love the idea of home share and they have some flexible core funding, then they can use that flexible core funding for what the NDIA calls explore and design.
Jenna: We really creating families here. That's really the vibe that we, the matches that we have, they're more than flatmates and they're kind of more than friends. They do become these little family groups, I suppose, which is just beautiful and amazing to see.