Moving Out – Adam’s Story

My name is Adam. I am 25 and am moving out of home for the first time. This is my story.

about me

Adam’s 25th Birthday Party

My circle of support has been meeting for over eight years, planning for my life after school. There are members of my extended family in the circle as well as a family friend and one of my previous support workers who wanted to be part of my life. My circle means that I have more control over my life with real choices influenced by the people who love me and know me best.  We think that the way our circle has developed and is supporting me to move into my own home could benefit others, so we want to share our story. Watch this short video to find out more about me.


Three Years On

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!



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!

Adam's Circle Inc. flyer A4

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.


Here’s Ad with some wonderful former housemates – now friends

The Move!

Adam successfully moved out of home in April!

Ad was very excited about the move and as prepared as he could be (after about 3 years of planning and talking with him about it extensively).

The first few days were a little tough as Adam adjusted to his new home and struggled with some homesickness, but he then very quickly settled in – he loves his new home and his housemates and has been so happy to be there. He really seems to have matured and even his communication has improved. In fact his parents have had a much harder time adjusting!


1. Find a house

This was not as hard as we thought it might be and only took about a month once we started searching in earnest. Adam’s parents, sisters, and some supports were primarily involved in the process of trawling and visiting open houses before we found a lovely big 4 bedroom house in Bondi Junction – perfectly situated near Adam’s family and close to shops and public transport. The agent and landlord were fine with our unique situation and accommodated several of our requests to make the house more suitable!

2. Find housemates

Once we started looking for a house the Housemates Group met up and jumped into action. We set up a WhatsApp Housemates Group so we could stay in touch and coordinate progress/meetings etc. We then edited/refined and posted the housemates ad on a number of online platforms:

  • Gumtree
  • Facebook (sharing through friends/networks and various Facebook groups)
  • UNSW Off Campus Accommodation
  • Jewish Living

Adam’s Lifestyle Coordinator (who is in the Housemates Group) was the main contact for potentials and also coordinated meeting times.

We had A LOT of interest (5-10 people contacting us per day – mainly from Flatmates and Gumtree) and our process was:

  1. After first contact we provided further detailed information about the arrangement and expectations.
  2. We asked people to provide information about themselves, their hobbies/interests, work/study patterns, and why they were interested in the opportunity.
  3. If we liked the sound of someone then 2 people (at least) from the Housemates Group met with them either at a cafe or at the house.
  4. If we were both still interested in each other then the potential would meet Adam and his parents for further detail/screening and ultimate all-important Adam approval!
  5. If still going well the potential housemate would then do a buddy shift with Adam and one of his supporters.
  6. All still going well the potential would sign the Housemate Agreement we developed and move in.

We held a Housemate Induction Session once we had all the housemates, which ran for a few hours one Saturday and was an opportunity for the housemates to get to know one another, ask questions, sort through processes and learn more about Adam.


  • Finding housemates was/is a very time consuming and multi-faceted process – involving reading/responding to lots of enquiries, coordinating times to meet people etc etc…
  • It’s much easier to find housemates when you actually have a house (and a lovely one at that…)
  • We had to edit the ad a few times to find the right balance between offering enough information/detail and not overwhelming people with information.
  • We learnt to be clear enough about expectations and responsibilities early on so as to filter out people who were just after cheap rent (of whom there were many).
  • We were very open initially to housemates living here temporarily from overseas but came to realise that in terms of stability it was better to have people in Sydney for the long-term. This isn’t a hard and fast rule for us, but is certainly an ideal.
  • Be prepared for people pulling out/moving out! We had several people on the point of moving in who pulled out at the last minute, and one for moved home to Italy with one day’s notice! Make sure there is a contingency/finance to cover such eventualities.


Adam has 3 housemates – one who is a long-term friend and supporter who was also moving out of home for the first time. We were always clear that we wanted housemates rather than ‘carers’, although housemates would still need to support Adam to an extent:

  • Each housemate has 2 nights per week (8pm-9:30am) in which they support Adam and keep an ear out (Adam stays with his family one night per week).
  • If Adam has trouble sleeping and consequently the housemate has disrupted sleep (awake more than 1 hour after midnight), then the housemate doesn’t do their second night that week. We felt this was important in terms of sustainability.
  • We have 2 core ‘Nights with Adam’ people and a list of friends and supporters we can call on in such cases.
  • Housemates support Adam with going to sleep and they have breakfast together in the morning.

We also wanted the house to be very much a home – there are often friends and family over for dinner or just a visit so Adam is meeting a range of new people.


The Housemates Ad

Here is one of the later iterations of the housemates ad:


Shared home with a difference!

Bondi Junction, NSW
Date Listed: 11/02/2016
Are you looking for:

-­ A home rather than just a house?
– A chance to save money with reduced rent whilst living in a great location?
-­ A new and exciting living experience?

We’re looking for a friendly and reliable person to live with our friend and brother Adam and two other housemates (Kit and Holly). Ad is a vibrant and active 26­ year ­old guy with an intellectual disability, who has just moved out of home for the first time. Adam has his own small business, works part time and volunteers in his community.

Although Adam needs some assistance with household tasks, he’s looking for a housemate, not a ‘carer’. He has a friendly team of supporters and an active network of friends and family. No qualifications or specific skills necessary, just flexibility, warmth and an open mind!

Housemates need to support Adam to an extent in the mornings/evenings on a rostered basis. Rent is reduced to reflect this expectation.

The house: a renovated 4 bedroom terrace set over 3 split levels.

– 3 bathrooms plus a guest toilet downstairs
– Polished timber floors, carpets in staircase and bedrooms
– Remote controlled intercom and alarm system
– Ground level has rear open plan kitchen dining area with dishwasher and ample cupboard and bench space
– Tiled rear courtyard area
– Security remote controlled car space from the rear lane access
– Short walk to Westfield Shopping Centre and Bondi Junction trains/buses

The room: ground floor level, optional drawers/wardrobe and mattress included, built in shelving.

To learn more about Adam, check out this blog

GLBTIQ friendly

Free unlimited internet, bills INCLUDED, minimum stay 6 months (but 12 months ideal).

If you’d like to find out more, please email Adam’s team leader (Grace) and tell us a bit about yourself and why you’re interested in this arrangement. If we’re on the same page then we can arrange to meet.

If you’re only after the cheap rent this isn’t the house for you – there will be some responsibility involved!


As Adam has had a few health issues that needed to be sorted out before he moved, he is currently still at home. He is now looking to move out in September/October this year (2015). He is starting to look for housemates in time for the big move therefore if you are interested in being part of Adam’s life and would like to be one of his first flatmates then please get in contact with

A Circle of Support

Adam is surrounded by a dedicated support circle. This circle includes immediate and extended family and friends who volunteer their time eagerly and regularly to come together to support him to build a life of meaning and connection. Circles recognise that families are experts in their own lives. They evolve, starting small and building gradually. You do not have to have a big extended family or lots of friends to start a circle. A circle can start with one or two people.

While his extended family has always been present in his life, Adam’s circle has intentionally created a space for a higher level of engagement. A circle provides a structure enabling families to connect, learn and to provide support. Being invited to join a circle gave people close to Adam and his family an opportunity to be involved. Circles work best when they harness strengths and skills already existing in a group.

In 2006, Adam’s family, with guidance from Judith Ellis (Family Advocacy), established a small circle, mainly comprising close family members. Setting and attaining goals involves lots of preparation work, flexibility, communication and time. The original focus was on planning for Adam’s life after school. The circle met regularly and discussed how to create opportunities for Adam to socialise with his cousins and peers. Developing a variety of other roles for Adam, including those of volunteer and worker were also prioritised.

Watch this video to find out more about one of Adam’s many valuable roles.

View this video and meeting minutes to find out more about Adam’s circle. Find out more about Circles of Support.

A Five-Year Plan

Adam fam A pool 2

Over time Adam’s Circle discussed and developed a multifaceted vision for Adam’s future based on his interests and abilities. In 2008 the circle outlined some of the elements identified for a good life for Adam:

Adam’s vision
• A sense of belonging- being valued and needed by others.
• Being a sportsman and member of a sporting team.
• My own friends.
• More control over my life.
• Living in my own place.
• Being healthy and fit.
• Learning new skills.
• Musician.
• Communicating my own needs and personal goals.
• Developing skills for everyday life.
• Having financial security.
• Finding enjoyable productive work.

These broad goals were then broken down into six aspects of Adam’s life: Work, Home, Life Skills, Study/Further education, Friends and Financial security.

Find out more about a process for developing a vision.

Following the development of a vision and areas in Adam’s life on which to focus, detailed plans and actions were made to move these goals forward.

On holiday with friends

Moving Out of Home

One of the goals in Adam’s Five Year Plan was for Adam to live in his own place. After all, moving out of the family home is what most young adults do- eventually! Issues around how to live independently and how to go about funding and planning for this move are therefore relevant for everyone.

Watch this video to learn more about the decision making process around imagining and finding the ideal home environment for Adam.

In planning for Adam’s move to his own home, the family looked for opportunities. When Adam left school he was eligible for post-school funding in NSW. His family chose to self-manage this. Together, with the support of the circle, they built very sound foundations of community and work roles, as well as a support team- with a relatively modest amount of funding.

Beginning this way, taking opportunities where they arose, meant they were in a good position when other opportunities came along. In 2012 an opportunity arose in NSW called the Supported Living Fund. Although this fund is no longer available, there are always opportunities to be found in a changing funding environment, and particularly in planning for an opportunity like the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The foundation of the circle became the perfect forum for assisting Adam to move into a home of his own. This meant that it was not just Adam’s parents taking on the planning and implementation. At the time of receiving the funding, Adam was eligible to use a NSW Government Support Planner to help design and cost the process. Rather than just meet and work through Adam’s parents, it was suggested that he engage the whole circle. Moving out now became a long-term circle goal. Work focused at first on creating a vision for what Adam’s new home would look and feel like:

Music with friends while on holiday

Circle Brainstorm: Adam’s Home
Adam’s place will have the feel of a student share house with three young flat mates. So a house of four people. The atmosphere would be one that is active / creative / personal. Lots of interaction lives of flat mates and Adam entwined at home, open and sharing and welcoming and connected. Adam not just physically present but is connected to and contributes to the life of the household. Things to do with Adam when people visit.

A Transition Plan: Developing a Support Network

A transition plan for Adam moving into his own home, come about as a result of harnessing the energy and spirit of Adam’s dedicated support circle. Adam’s family is a member of a peer network called Supported Living Network. They asked for assistance from Libby Ellis from this network and the support planner, Matthew Dimmock, to facilitate a series of meetings.

These meetings sought input from the whole circle and developed a transition plan based on consultation with everyone. This included consulting with Adam’s paid support team who are all young people with experience in living in Sydney and moving out of home. During and after these meetings, information about various elements of Adam’s future home was collected and documented. The ideas came from family members, friends and support team. A key point emerged from the process to guide the road ahead.

Circle Brainstorm: Developing Support Systems                                                                               A consensus emerged that pointed to the fact that Adam himself did not require much in the way of skill building or preparation, and that rather the focus needs to be on the support structures around him. So there is a need to develop the support systems needed around Adam and as much as possible start putting these into practice while he is still living at home, to build familiarity for him so that the transition into his own home is less jolting for him, and so that these systems can be tested and refined if needed. This will also give a sense of continuity for him.

Here is an early Brainstorm identifying the ideal elements of Adam’s new home Text link 1 (Brainstorm Adam’s House)

For information about Adam’s transition plan watch this video.

One of the keys to Adam being able to live in his own home and self-direct his supports with assurance and longevity was to build a really engaged support network. So the first step in making vision into reality was to develop Adam’s pattern of support in order to establish a “Lifestyle Support Team”. Rather than developing a roster of staff hours or being dictated by funding silos, this vision came to life by focusing on Adam’s support needs and a range of roles and relationships.

Roles and Relationships: Patterns of Support

In order for Adam to live a happily independent life in his new home, the next focus for the circle was to ensure that he would be supported to do so. So a smaller circle subgroup was formed to begin to sketch out what an ideal pattern of support for Adam living in his own home will look like.

This was based on the roles and relationships for Adam that make sense in his life. Always keeping in mind the values and ‘specialness’ of Adam’s existing system and team. This involved working out ways to maintain values and ensure these values would be instilled in new team members.

Adam with members of his family

Developing a workable pattern of support involved two main stages:

1. Mapping Life:
A week of Adam’s life in his new home was mapped out in detail. This helped to clarify and identify support systems, housemate roles and qualities as well as budgeting considerations- and raised LOTS of further questions.

2. People and Roles:
The second part of identifying patterns of support was to look at the people in Adam’s life and their role in supporting his move. After documenting the routine things that need to happen to ensure a good day, the group focused on working out how best to make these things happen once Adam is living in his own place. This was approached by defining four groups of people in Adam’s life and then plotting who would be most appropriate to support Adam with each task, as his circle imagined Adam in his own home.

Housemates: The importance of maintaining natural roles for housemates while being around and supporting Adam at home was discussed. A concern raised was the need for housemates to plan their schedules so that paid support could be tied in to compliment seamlessly the support housemates provide. That this is not something that people usually do. So a challenge is how to balance flexibility and spontaneity in life with obligations.

Ad Chris 2

Adam with supporter and housemate Chris

Paid Support: It was decided that personal care sort of work should not be left to housemates – that the support that housemates provide should as much as possible reflect what goes on in a typical share house. So it was felt that a paid staff member should arrive in the morning, get a brief run down from whichever housemate is still around, and then assist Adam with showering, dressing, packing a bag and getting on with the day.

Adam with supporters

Adam with supporters

Family: Although Adam’s family will see him regularly there would be specific times when they will play a role in Adam’s support, at least initially.

Adam and his family

Adam and his family

Circle: It was decided that the circle would largely continue as before, with someone scheduled to spend time with Adam on weekends. It was noted that the circle may become more committed to this once Adam moves out, as Adam’s family wouldn’t be immediately on hand as a fall back option.

Ad and Tony

Adam with his uncle Tony

It was also decided as part of this process that a Co-ordination role could play an active part in developing these support systems. Initially in the planning for Adam’s move, a Lifestyle Assistant could help to organise, implement and manage communication around Adam’s new ‘pattern of support’. S/he could also organise trial weekends for Adam and consolidate, manage and expand new opportunities including work and volunteer roles. The part time position was advertised (via the Ethical Job website) and filled in April 2014.

Watch this video to find out more about developing Adam’s pattern of support.


Lots of people will be asking about how Adam’s move is to be funded? This story is about Adam’s unique experience. It is not a guide to funding models or opportunities as the funding environment changes all the time. Having said this, planning for Adam’s move into his own shared home was part of a larger plan harnessing the philosophy of taking a self directed approach to support.

After establishing an ideal Pattern of Support, areas to which funding could be directed were identified. Both for the transition phase while building the support systems and planning for the move. Karen and Ivan met again with Matthew Dimmock (ADHC support planner) to begin to put costs against items, in order to form an interim budget that outlines how the funding will be utilised.Expenses include those associated with staffing, house expenses (including rent, amenities and subsidies for housemates) and costs associated with Adam’s work.

Watch this video to find out a little more:

For further information about taking a self directed approach to support visit Resourcing Families and the Supported Living Network.

Circle Subgroups

Now that a detailed vision had been developed, along with a values base upon which it would stand and with costings attached,  practical work began on turning the vision into a reality.

To this end the larger circle split up into smaller working groups. Each  subgroup looked at specific tasks identified through the consultation process as areas to prioritise in this stage of planning for Adam’s move. Circle members chose to be involved in a smaller group based on their skills and interests. Adam’s parents were not necessarily involved with every sub circle. Each group met between the larger circle meetings then reported back to the group (every six weeks). If there were any questions that needed more discussion, these were raised before the next round of meetings.
The groups started off with a paid facilitator (to help establish goals and effective functioning and use of time) but soon became self sufficient, with a nominated lead person in each group. The groups evolved as new areas of action were identified. Some of the sub groups dealt with: Communication, Housemates, House and Safeguards.

Subgroup meeting

Subgroup meeting


This sub circle, tasked with making sure everyone is kept informed, explored:
• Communication tools needed to support the living arrangement.
• Who needs to be communicating with whom and the type of information they need to be communicating.
• Ensuring Adam’s active participation and that his views are heard.
• Most effective types of technology to support communication.

For information about how the communications systems evolved, watch this video and have a look at Adam’s communication map.



There was a lot of discussion during the consultation process about the housemate/s role. What qualities should they possess, what would they be doing with Adam, where would their role begin and end? The questions below (along with Values and Adam’s Pattern of Support) were important in ‘seeing’ and understanding how Adam will be living.

So this sub circle explored:
• Imagining the right kind of people.
• Working out how they will be found.
• Roles: clarity as to what sort of support to expect from housemates- what they would be doing with Adam and what they wouldn’t be.
• How they will get to know Adam and Adam to know them.
• Input into drafting a housemate agreement.
• Working out how best to handle nights and weekends.

For more information watch this video:


This group was tasked with the practicalities of finding a house as well as economics and a timeline for action. So this sub circle explored:

• Imagining Adam’s ideal home. Including discussions on location, qualities of house and practicalities.
• Figuring out ways Adam can express his personality and authority.
• What Adam can afford and what would be sustainable within his personal finances.
• Strategies to find the right place.
• Rental arrangements: with landlord and housemates including the drafting of a Housemates Agreement.

For more information around the work of this group watch this video and have a look at an example of circle brainstorm minutes.