MoGB Proposed Group Home at Kokoda Street, North Albury – A Family Model (March 2018)
The Mother of God Brothers ran a successful Catholic Community for intellectually disabled men in an ex-orphanage in Thurgoona, a suburb of Albury for about 30 years. At one stage there was a Group Home run by another organisation (a sheltered workshop) close by and we learnt many lessons from them and from our own experiences which we hope to put into effect in a new Group Home project. We will call this ‘The Family Model’ for reasons which will become obvious as we explain the project:
The Mother of God Brothers proposed Group Home comprises of a purpose built 6 bedroom home and a 2 bedroom Manager’s Unit on the same property.
There will be 5 residents, with the 6th room available for occasional use for overnight carer, office work, etc.
The House Manager(s), probably a married couple whose family has grown up, will reside in the Managers’ Cottage but spend sufficient time in the main house to make sure that the residents are well looked after: ie meals prepared, dishes washed, personal hygiene supervised, clothes washed and ironed if necessary, house cleaned and tidy, health monitored, assistance given with social life, family involvement encouraged, residents helped to maintain a daily work or activity program, and religious and cultural practices supported, etc.
This type of Group Home in NSW comes under the category of ‘Boarding House’ and this category has some advantages for us. These benefits are:
The NSW Government has an entry criteria for Boarding Houses called the ‘Screening Tool’. Any prospective resident has to meet certain standards of health and abilities because Boarding Houses, by definition, are not designed to cater for persons with high support needs. This suits ‘The Family Model’ because the House Managers are on duty 24/7 (except when they are on holidays, or attending social functions, etc) and would not be expected to carry the burden of caring for high support residents.
The residents would contribute a percentage of their DSP to the House (say 85%).
The House Manager(s) should qualify for Carer Pension(s) and they would also pay something towards board and lodging. Although it is not as financially rewarding as a proper paying job, it is at least some income for the Manager(s) and, after all, we are looking for dedicated people who will see the residents as ‘family’, and who are not in the job for financial reward.
The fact that the House Manager(s) are receiving fortnightly Carer’s Pensions makes the administration of the project much simpler and effective, with less office work required.
The Boarding House Act requires a Licensee, who has overall responsibility for the proper running of the Group House (the Boarding House). In this project the Mother of God Brothers would be the Licensee. The Licensee then has to find and appoint and supervise the Licensed Manager(s), who also have to be acceptable to the Government.
The Licensee will need to have support systems in place so the Licensed Manager(s) can have holidays and time off for special occasions, and help ensure the residents are well supported in their individual needs.
We have seen this ‘Family Model’ in operation at our own Community and in a Group Home in close proximity to our Community (as mentioned above). There was a real ‘family’ feeling present in the Group Home and the residents felt loved and secure in the presence of the dedicated House Managers who provided the support they needed. The House Managers were mostly dedicated Christian couples whose families had grown up and moved on. Sometimes the husband was still working an outside job while the wife was supervising the Group Home.
If this project becomes financially self-supporting then it is hoped that some other Parishes may take on similar ‘Family Model’ Group Homes and help provide accommodation for low-support intellectually disabled adults and help fulfil the Gospel mandate of proving loving service to those in need.
The Mother of God Brothers are in the process to registering this project with the NDIS We expect it will take a number of months to complete this registration.