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Accommodation options for people with disabilities require a re-think

I’ve had an overwhelming response to my editorial in The Newcastle Herald last Saturday, about how the NSW government is failing vulnerable people with severe disabilities in need of specialised accommodation and care services.

Here’s a link to the editorial. http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2412182/opinion-nsw-government-failing-people-with-disabilities/

I wrote: “Current ideological thinking is against people with disability living in large residential care facilities like the Stockton Centre, Tomaree Lodge and the Kanangra Centre.  As such, the government has decreed that all such centres are to close, with residents moved to group houses….The residents at the Stockton Centre, Tomaree Lodge and the Kanangra Centre have chronic and complex psychiatric and/or physical disabilities often complicated by severe or profound intellectual disabilities. Virtually all of the residents’ health needs and allied services are catered for on-site by experts in their fields. The staff at the centres have a wealth of experience and expertise. For many residents, the services and freedoms they currently enjoy at the residential centres cannot be replicated in a group home setting.”

After the publication of the editorial there was considerable response from the community including these comments on the Save Our Stockton Facebook page.

“Well written. I wonder how many powers of be will read it & understand it. They do not live it. Do they really care? ….very disgruntled family member of actual resident. No choices here.”

“I wonder if anyone remembers what happened to all those residents back in the 60’s the government decided should move on from Stockton and move to different accommodation. The quality of trained caring staff at Stockton cannot and has not been replicated in community housing yet so what makes the minister think he can do it now…”

“unless you live it, it’s difficult to relate, articles such as this can educate the unknowing for greater understanding.”

A “one size fits all” policy is unlikely to be successful where residents’ needs are so varied.  A rethink of policy and funding, could see the centres delivering additional services including staff training, respite and diagnostic services together with ongoing residential services for those whose needs cannot be met in a group home setting.

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