More than three years have passed since Adam moved out of his family home and into his shared house. He’s now 30, and still as vibrant, energetic and inspiring as ever!
The move and the model have been a great success. Adam loves his home and having independence from his family, and wouldn’t have it any other way. He has grown in leaps and bounds and improved his social skill development, communication, and ability to do household chores. Adam is a recognised and valued member of the Bondi Junction community – known and loved by neighbours, baristas, waiters, bank tellers, checkout personnel, store staff and market stall holders. There have been many parties, dinners, gatherings and celebrations at the house, which Adam has proudly hosted and joyously taken part in.
Of course, there have been (and will continue to be) many challenges for Adam, his family, circle of support, Lifestyle Coordinator (LC), support workers and housemates. There have been periods of stability and continuity, but also times of great instability – numerous housemate changes (more than 10!), new LCs and support workers, sleepless nights, health issues, rent increases, NDIS battles, and changing household dynamics.
We always knew that planning the move was only the beginning of a big, exciting, rewarding, hard, daunting, and experimental enterprise. There is a lot of ongoing work involved in maintaining this model, but despite this and all the challenges, we have never considered throwing in the towel. There has been no challenge we haven’t been able to overcome – or at least manage.
What have we learnt?
- Be specific in advertising for housemates – too many people leap at the subsided rent and back out when they hear what’s involved.
- Talk to potential housemates on the phone before meeting them in person – it’s a big enough job organising to meet people and this streamlines the process.
- Finding housemates can be time consuming but it’s worth waiting for the right people to come along (they will eventually). It usually takes 2-3 months to find and get to know new housemates before they can move in.
- There’s usually about a 3 month period of adjustment when new housemates move in – it takes time for Adam to get to know and feel comfortable with housemates.
- A bond and written housemate agreement is absolutely necessary.
- Include housemates in finding and choosing other housemates along with Adam! If they don’t all get along then the whole dynamic of the house is negatively affected.
- Sometimes it’s necessary to ask housemates to leave if it’s not working out.
- Good communication between the LC, support workers, housemates and family is HARD and continues to be hard but is essential.
- The Lifestyle Coordinator role is crucial to the success of this model so it’s important to spend time and money finding and training the right person.
- It’s hard to engineer a good house dynamic – it’ll happen organically or not at all.
- It’s important that housemates feel valued and supported. The house isn’t just Adam’s house – it’s theirs too and they need to feel ownership and take on the responsibility of maintaining their household.
- Flexibility, organisation, forward planning, backup support – all key!
Adam and housemate Armando
Another challenge has been backup overnight support. If housemates have a hard/sleepless night with Ad then they have their next scheduled night off and we call in backup overnight support. Reliable overnight support at often short notice can be hard to come by! We use a combination of Ad’s day supporters who elect to do overnight support and dedicated overnight backup – mostly people we’ve found through friends/networks etc. We have a WhatsApp group for overnight supporters, managed by Ad’s LC, which is a simple way of sourcing people quickly. We also have an overnight report Google doc that tracks Adam’s sleep so we can observe patterns etc and help support housemates and overnight supporters.
Adam’s Circle – now an incorporated body (Adam’s Circle Inc) – continues to play a vital role in Adam’s life and in supporting him to live independently from his family. We meet every six weeks and Adam’s house is always a significant part of the agenda – general updates, troubleshooting, forward planning and celebrating successes!
Members of Adam’s Circle are also in an ‘Emergency Backup’ WhatsApp group to step-in for housemates/supporters in case of emergencies/running late/no shows. This has taken the pressure off Adam’s parents to always be the ones to step in. Thankfully, it’s rarely used!
Three years on and Adam and his team have never looked back – the years of planning allowed a relatively smooth transition and meant we were as prepared as we could be for uncharted waters. Yes, there have been rough patches, but moving out of his family home has allowed Adam to flourish and experience something that’s a given for most young adults. At its best, the house is a warm, diverse and welcoming environment – Adam and his housemates have ownership, they hang out together in the kitchen, have friends over, change the furniture, make each other dinner and look out for each other.
Ad and Kit
Laura and Kit
Olimpia and Kit
Kit, Ad and Holly
Ad and Kit
Here’s Ad with some wonderful former housemates – now friends