Release date: 20 June 2019

Technology-enabled home for people with intellectual disability sets the blueprint for future housing

St John of God Accord, a leading support and accommodation provider for people with adisability, today opened an industry-leading technology-enabled home for people with anintellectual disability and complex needs.

The five-bedroom home opened today in East Brighton, Melbourne, on land generously donated by the Daughters of Charity, is equipped with the latest assisted-living technology that provides controlled independence which improves the quality of life and allows people with an intellectual disability to have more choice in undertaking daily activities.

The home and its technology, developed in collaboration with HomeStay (ASX:HSC), is a blueprint for St John of God Accord’s future accommodation for clients with an intellectual disability, with the organisation investing $11.6 million in developing a further 10 houses for people with an intellectual disability over the coming years using this blueprint.

St John of God Health Care Group Director Community Services, Kevin Taylor, said the home set a new standard of accommodation for people with intellectual disability.

“We are really proud and excited to welcome our clients into their new home and see the difference the design and technologies within the house have on their lives over the weeks, months and years to come,” he said.

“The house design creates safe spaces inside and outside, incorporates assistive technology to improve the independence and dignity of each person, and enables the use of infrastructure to assist in supporting residents’ long-term needs as they age.

“We’re looking forward to see our residents’ take control over their lives in ways not previously possible and experience greater choice and independence.”

St John of God Accord has collaborated with HomeStay, and other technology partners including Quantify Technology, Samsung, BCDS Group, Philips Lighting and WorkM8, to include tailored assistive technologies to reduce restrictive practices, enable independence, and digitise work processes to allow greater one-on-one time between residents and carers.

HomeStay Chief Executive Officer, Philippa Lewis, said HomeStay’s Caring Intelligent Home system was helping provide residents with more controlled independence and opportunities to reach their full potential.

“Technology was specifically designed to match the cognitive abilities of residents. Our Caring Intelligent Home system coordinates discrete sensors, an emergency hub, personal alarms and apps that offer residents increased dignity, choice, control and independence in their daily activities,” she said.

“Residents can use the MyDay application, a simple and easy-to-use app, to manage their day with greater independence in line with their abilities by promoting decision making and mental stimulation, offering different methods of communication and reducing anxiety. While the Carers’ Companion app allows more efficient monitoring through coordinated access to information and data to authorised care professionals on an ongoing basis and creates more quality one-to-one time between the carer and the resident.”

Five St John of God Accord clients, supported through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), will move from their current St John of God Accord house to their new home over the coming weeks.

The effectiveness of the technology and house design will be independently assessed by Deakin University to help inform future houses.

National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) Acting Chief Executive Officer Vicki Rundle said this home was a great example of how the NDIS was enabling innovation in the disability housing to enhance the lives of people with disability.

“It is really pleasing to see the NDIS enable disability accommodation providers to offer new and different opportunities by working with technology companies to enhance the lives of their clients,” she said.

Mr Taylor said the new homes would help meet the growing demand from the community for specialist disability accommodation.

“We know there is unmet need across the community, and this need will grow as families, particularly those with ageing parents, look to secure suitable long term accommodation and services for their loved ones,” he said.

“These new St John of God Accord homes will not only help meet that demand but also offer new opportunities people by providing environments where they can feel safe, reach their potential, and pursue their interests.”

Construction of the first home in East Brighton, on land gifted to St John of God Accord by the Daughters of Charity, finished in mid-2019. Planning is now underway for the additional 10 homes which will be built as duplex units at five sites throughout Melbourne.