In early 2006, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) announced an agreement designed to reduce the number of younger people with a disability living in residential aged care (RAC) facilities. A bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and the State was signed, committing $60.2 million in joint funding for Victoria over five years.
The COAG commitment acknowledged the increasing demand from younger people with a disability for specialist age appropriate services to meet their ongoing needs and aspirations. The aim is to reduce the number of younger people with a disability living in RAC.
Today there are around 6,500 people who are under 60 years of age living in aged care facilities. These facilities are designed to provide accommodation and care to frail older people in their final years. They are not designed or adequately resourced to provide support or activities to younger people with high clinical needs, nor can they support these people’s social lives within the community.
Villa Maria was successful in a tendering for the establishment of a service that will accommodate and support 10 younger people who are presently living in residential aged care services. This service type is the first of its kind in Victoria and has a major initiative of developing a purpose built new home in Austin Street, Alphington. A reference group was established, which includes a person with an acquired brain injury, James mother, Robyn, a representative of the Young Persons in Nursing Home consortium, allied heath services, architectural services, local and state governments and Villa Maria. This group meets on a regular basis and plays a critical role in the design and development of both the purpose built home and the service model.
Austin Street will be James’ permanent home from, hopefully, some time in 2010.
In March, 2009, Villa Maria hosted the ‘turning of the sod’ ceremony, which signalled the commencement of construction. The Hon. Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services was guest of honour and said that “…this is a triumph for everyone involved.
The building, as at November 2009, is almost at lock-up stage. It is hoped to be completed towards the middle of 2010.