Co-designing the transition of Accommodation Support Services

In Australia today there are over 4 million people living with disability, many living in supported accommodation.

In 2018 The South Australian Government announced that it plans to deliver on its “Our First 100 Days” election commitment, to gradually withdraw from the provision of Supported Accommodation Services, eventually having these services provided by the non-government sector and funded under the NDIS. In Co-designing the transition of Supported Accommodation Support Services with the Department of Human Services we looked at the impact of this decision on the people affected most, people living with disability.

What is supported accommodation and why is it so important to have choices?

Supported living is where people living with disability are essentially receiving in home support to live in their own home or in a home with others.

Our homes provide us with shelter, safety, belonging, identity and much more. We know for people to live their best lives that, good supported accommodation is a critical key for people and their families living with disability.

What was the role of TACSI in this project? Who worked on it?

Our role was to support the department to go beyond traditional engagement processes. By using a co-design approach to ensure that lived experience and the preferences of people with disability currently living in government supported accommodation truly informed the approach to transition these services from state run to the non-government sector.

Our focus in that process was to understand from people what makes good living and what makes good change in their lives. This resulted in a set of principles that a co-design group made up of people with lived experience of disability used to develop a transition framework for the government to follow when they are ready to make the change.

TACSI Principal Kerry Jones, Ageing, Disability and Partnerships brought her experience in designing and managing disability services with Senior Social Innovator Lucy Fraser leading the delivery of the work, both bringing strong design practice and experience in delivering co-design with people facing disadvantage.

Key stakeholders including the South Australian Council on Intellectual Disability (SACID), Our Voice, Strathmont Family and Friends and Office of the Public Advocate were also engaged as organisations who are all closely involved in advocacy for people living with disability and their carers.

Who was the client? And what is the background to why this project was initiated?

The South Australian Government announced in 2018 that it will deliver on its “Our First 100 Days” election commitment to gradually withdraw from the provision of Supported Accommodation Services, eventually having these services provided by the non-government sector and funded under the NDIS.

With this policy as background, The Department of Human Services (DHS) is currently engaging with clients, families and guardians to ensure their needs and perspectives are incorporated in the recommended strategy to deliver the government’s commitment.

In 2018 DHS asked The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) to lead co-design engagement with people living in supported accommodation and their family, friends and guardians. This process was completed in February this year.

Why co-design? 

One of the insights driving this work is that people living with disability are often not involved in the decisions made about their care and living arrangements. When they are involved, it tends to be those who can advocate best for themselves leaving out a large proportion of people living with complex disabilities who become voiceless in decisions made directly about them. A co-design approach enables genuine engagement with people with a range of disabilities to have a voice.

How did you approach the consultation process?

We went out to the homes of people who are living with disability and understood from them in their context what really matters. These key insights informed the co-design group and were used in developing the principles and transition framework.

What was really important in the process, was that the people living with disability that made up the co-design group, had access to the experiences of a wide range of their peers, as well as their own lived experience, to then define what good support and good change looks like. The other important element is that the key stakeholders like advocacy groups and government representatives were involved in key stages along the journey, so that they could also have input and raise questions for the group to consider in getting to the final report.

What would TACSI like to see eventuate from this work?

Authentic and ongoing engagement to shape the decisions that are going to affect people living with disability lives. And that there are creative ways to engage people with a wide range of support needs in a rigorous co-design process.

We’d also like to see the ongoing growing of capability and confidence for those of us who are running these processes so that we continually involve people whose voices are not always heard. For different outcomes we have to think differently.

How can I find out more?

Read the full report here with The Little Story of Good Living available to read here. The Little Story of Good Living was co-created to summarise the key messages that people living with disability wanted those around them to know when supporting them through this transition. If you work with people living with disability this is for you.

Read the report