Case study: 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.

We wanted to understand what makes good living, and what makes good change in their lives.

The background

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

Supported accommodation is where people living with disability are receiving in-home support to live great lives on their own or with other people with disability. 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 critical for people living with disability and their families and friends.

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 (DHS), we looked at the impact of this decision on the people affected most, people living with disability. 

TACSI worked with people living in supported accommodation and their family, friends and guardians to make sure their needs and perspectives were incorporated in the recommended strategy to deliver the government’s commitment to transition. This process was completed in February 2019.

Our approach

Our role was to support DHS to go beyond traditional engagement processes. We used a co-design approach to make sure 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.

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. These stakeholders were involved in key stages along the journey, to contribute their years of work and knowledge, and to raise questions for the group to consider.

Our focus was to support people to share what makes ‘good living’ and what makes ‘good change’ in their lives. 

The team was TACSI principal Kerry Jones, who brought her experience in designing and managing disability services, and senior social innovator Lucy Fraser, who lead the delivery of the work. They both brought strong design practice and experience in delivering co-design with people facing disadvantage.

The first stage of the project focused on giving people living with disability the opportunity to share their experience in ways that worked for them. People living with disability invited us to their homes to tell us what really matters to them about good living and change. These key insights informed the co-design group and were used in developing the principles and transition framework.

In the second stage, people living with disability formed a co-design group and brought their own lived experience together with a wide range of their peers. They shared their knowledge, experience, aspirations and ideas to develop a framework of what good support and good change looks like. 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.

People living with disability formed a co-design group and brought their own lived experience together with a wide range of their peers

An individual holding up cards with everyday images and descriptions.

The results

This project supported authentic engagement to shape the decisions that are going to affect people living with disability. This co-design group demonstrated that engaging people with a wide range of support needs in a rigorous co-design process is essential and valuable for participants and for future service users.

The transition blueprint developed by the co-design group with TACSI, as well as the earlier research and insights, enabled the Department of Human Services to make some key decisions. One included the decision to slow down the transition process, and to focus first on supporting government and non-government accommodation services, and the people they serve, to be NDIS ready.

2022 update

In 2022, the South Australian Department of Human Services ‘Accommodation Services’ decided to become accredited NDIS accommodation providers.

This takes pressure off the original decision to transition from government to NGO accommodation and continues to provide a diversity of options for people with disability. The Department also now has a ‘Client Influencer Group’, who is consulted on decisions that need to be made.

If you work with people living with disabilities, we encourage you to read The Little Story of Good Living here, which 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.

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