Are you seeking a home of your own?

The Autism Association is the only organisation in Australia that provides services for people with Autism across the lifespan. One of the most important events in anyone’s life is the day that they move away from the family home into a “home of their own”.

For some people with Autism this isn’t always quite so simple. Where required, Autism Association provides specialised assistance to help each person achieve this highly individualised goal. In recognition of the fact that each person has very different needs and preferences, the model of support provided varies according to this need. People can choose to live on their own, with someone who supports them at mutually agreed times, or with other people with Autism where there is support available 24 hours per day.

The services are always provided in a manner that celebrates the uniqueness of each person with Autism, with the overall aim of developing skills that maximise independence and maintaining support in areas where skill development is more difficult.

Living with other people with Autism

The Autism Association supports people with Autism to live away from the family home, often with one or two other people who also need support.  Over the years, the Association has developed expertise in ensuring that each person is supported to lead the life that they want to live.  This means that there is careful planning in relation to compatibility with others, including staff, transitioning into a new home and an environment that facilitates a feeling of relaxation and comfort.  A person’s home should be their haven, where they are free to be the person they want to be.

The services aim to:

  • Work with families and the person with Autism to ensure that plans are developed with clear strategies in place to assist the person to reach his or her aspirations and goals.
  • Create conditions which allow each person to lead a happy, enjoyable and contented life.
  • Provide each person with individualised support based on a sound knowledge of his or her needs.
  • Ensure that each person has opportunities to engage in the activities he or she enjoys.
  • Ensure that each person, with the support of his or her family, is involved in decisions which impact on their daily life.

Moving to a New Place—frequently asked questions

If you have chosen to ask the Autism Association to walk alongside you on the next part of the life journey for your son or daughter, then the information that follows may be helpful in answering any questions you may have.

The Autism Association provides services solely to people who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Therefore, the services are designed in such a way as to maximise routine and predictability for the person with Autism, to provide an environment that is conducive to the needs of the individual and a model of support that builds relationships between the support workers and the people they care for.

In recognition of the fact that people with Autism find change and transition very difficult to cope with, the staffing roster is designed to ensure that changes are kept to a minimum. Support workers are on duty for 2.5 consecutive days, so there are only three shift changes in any week. This is obviously preferable to some models of care where staff changes take place three times a day. Support workers receive specific training on Autism, but also receive even more specific training about each individual, recognising that all people with Autism are different.

The Shared Living options are mainly for two or three people with Autism, with a small number of homes for four people. Again, this recognises the difficulties experienced by many people with Autism when there are too many people around them. Through careful and strategic service planning the Autism Association has maintained the focus on having a small number of people in homes, and will continue to do so into the future.

The Autism Association is of the belief that the people who know the person best are most suited to being involved in developing a service that meets the needs of the individual. The Association takes a best practice approach and continually strives to keep the family and the person with Autism at the centre of service provision. The services are not a “one size fits all” model. Each home is very different, with support tailored to each individual.

Families will be consulted informally on a regular basis. However, each year, in a more formal manner, families will be invited and encouraged to be involved in developing an individualised plan for their son or daughter. This ensures that their particular needs are documented along with associated strategies to address these needs, and to continue developing skills.

There is a clear emphasis on enjoyable lifestyle and “something to look forward to”: an important aspect of life for all of us.

The timeline can vary according to the needs of the person with Autism, whether they would like to live on their own or with other people and on the availability of a suitable home.

Generally it can take up to 12 months from the time of receiving the funding notification until the time the person is settled into their new home. Sometimes the timeline is much quicker, and sometimes slower. It is best to focus on a 12 month timeline and work from there.

Sometimes there is a need for additional support while the person is waiting for a permanent option away from the family home. The Autism Association is willing to provide this support on an interim basis and will work with you to ascertain the best way for this support to be provided. An interim plan will then be developed.

This will be signed by a family member and by an Autism Association staff member. Generally the interim support arrangements are provided for 3-6 months. If there is no permanent option after this time, then another interim plan will be agreed upon and submitted.

The extra support is usually by way of support workers spending time with the person with Autism to allow the family to have a break. Sometimes, depending on availability, this support can be overnights, away from the family home.

The best thing you can do is to gather together as much information as possible about your son or daughter to help them move to their new home with minimal disruption and distress. The Autism Association will appoint two people to work alongside you and help put the information together.

One person will be from the Clinical team. Their role will be to talk with you at length and develop an individual support plan for your son or daughter. This plan will outline all of the things that bring pleasure to the person with Autism, and also the things that support workers can do to help them feel calm and relaxed.

The second person will be from the Community Living team. This person will gather the demographic information about your son or daughter and also provide information on the logistics of moving to a new home. They will discuss the transition with you and develop a plan that is best for the family and for the person with Autism.

Once all of the information is gathered and a house is available, a final plan will be developed and agreed upon by the funding body.

Generally all of the homes are owned by the State Government Department of Housing. The Autism Association holds the head lease for all of the homes and is responsible for all of the day to day and long term maintenance.

Once a person has selected the Autism Association to be their service provider the Association will apply to the Department of Housing for a suitable home. At all times we try to work with the family in relation to preference for a particular location. This does, however, sometimes need to be a point of compromise. It is not always possible to obtain a home in the preferred location.

Families or individuals are responsible for all personal belongings, including bedroom furniture. This means that you will need to supply all bed linen, towels, clothing, toiletries etc. In addition, some people like to have a TV, computer and other electronic equipment in their bedroom. These items will also need to be provided by the person or their family.

The Autism Association will apply for a grant to provide all of the communal items for the home, including white goods, kitchen equipment, and lounge and dining suites. The Association strives to provide a living environment that is homely and comfortable, with all of little things around that bring peace and contentment to the person with Autism.

The funding from the Department of Communites (formerly DSC), WA NDIS or NDIS is purely to provide staffing support for people who live in the shared accommodation. It does not cover any of the everyday living expenses or personal requirements. Like other members of the community, these expenses are met by the person. Hence, there are guidelines for all organisations providing accommodation to people with disabilities. Please refer to the procedure for Accommodation Fees in your information pack for more detailed information.

Absolutely! The transition to the home will be planned along with the family, with the person’s best interests at heart. Sometimes it may be less confusing for the person’s move to the home to be permanent from the start. A routine for visiting the family can be put in place, and implemented immediately.

For others, it may be preferable to have a much slower transition, starting with a few daytime visits, then an overnight, then two or three nights until the person feels comfortable enough to move permanently. The transition plan will be developed with the family to ensure that everyone feels comfortable with it.

Family will always play a really important role in the person’s life. While there may not be a need for the day to day care requirements to be provided, there will certainly be an ongoing need for contact, and for continual nurturing of family relationships. Some people like to visit family on regular days each week, perhaps spending a night or two in the family home. Others have less regular visits. Families are, of course, welcome to visit their son or daughter in their new home.
It should be recognised, however, that additional people in the home may be difficult for other clients to cope with. We would therefore ask for consideration of the needs of everyone.

Again, the frequency of contact is always according to the preferences of the family and their son or daughter.

Again, this is something that is flexible and can be agreed upon when the person moves to their new home. Some families always like to take their son or daughter shopping for new clothes, or take them to the hairdresser. Others prefer to hand this role over to the Autism Association support workers and coordinators. Families can choose to make purchases and be reimbursed from their son or daughter’s trust account if they prefer.

The home will have an assigned vehicle to meet the transport needs of the people who live there. Support staff will usually take the person to work, school or other daytime activities. If this is not possible, the Community Living Coordinator will organise for alternative transport.

Support workers may take the person to a routine medical appointment with a GP; however a Coordinator will always accompany them to specialist appointments. A member of the Clinical team or senior staff member from the Community Living team will also attend any neurology or psychiatry appointments. Family members are always invited and encouraged to attend all appointments and may choose to attend all or only some.

This is dependent on the location of the person’s new home and the proximity to their regular GP. Where possible, the Autism Association will endeavour to maintain contact with the medical professionals who know the person best. If this is not possible, then the Coordinator will find an alternative professional, and discuss the possibility of change with the family.

The Autism Association also has visiting psychiatrists who conduct regular clinics at the Association’s Head Office. People who live in shared accommodation are able to access the services of the psychiatrists if they would like to. This is something that can be discussed with their Coordinator prior to the person moving to their new home.

This is generally a decision that the families may make on behalf of the person with Autism. The Autism Association does recommend that everyone has cover for urgent ambulance at a cost of around $60.00 per annum.

There is a requirement that all medication is safely packed in Webster Packs prepared by Health Link Pharmacy in Kiara. The Webster Pack is a sealed medication container developed by a pharmacist in accordance with the treating doctor’s prescription.

This procedure, in conjunction with a comprehensive procedure for Medication Administration, is in place to safeguard both residents and staff from errors in medication administration. All medication, including vitamins and over the counter medication, must be authorised by the person’s treating Doctor. All non-regular medication, such as hay fever tablets or pain relief tablets must also be packed in a Webster Pak and will only be administered on the authorisation of a Community Living Coordinator.

Any changes to medication will be communicated to the family by the Coordinator, or vice versa.

The Autism Association will always try to make sure that the option is right for everyone sharing the home. Sometimes, even with the best of planning, there are some unforseen difficulties with compatibility. Should this happen, the Association will inform the family and seek to find an alternative, more suitable, option as quickly as possible. At all times the family will be involved in the planning and discussion around these issues and will assist in the decision making process.

The Community Living Coordinator will be the first point of contact for families. The Coordinator will be responsible for making sure that the person’s needs are met on an ongoing basis, including health care, personal care, socialisation and recreation and other important areas in their lives. They are also responsible for making sure that the support workers are providing appropriate levels of care and that they have positive relationships with the people who live in the home.

The Coordinator will keep in contact with families and inform them of the important things that are happening in the person’s life. This will include any changes in behaviour, any health concerns, any staff changes in the house and, of course, any enjoyable experiences and achievements.

Coordinators are available during working hours from Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5.00pm. There is an on-call Coordinator after hours and on weekends for any matters that require urgent attention.

The Autism Association places great value on family and the ongoing role they play in a person’s life. In light of this it is important that families feel free to make suggestions in relation to the service or to express any concerns about the care of their family member.

The Coordinator is again the person who should be approached initially in these situations. Usually the suggestions can be taken on board or concerns resolved at this level. Should this not prove to be satisfactory then there is the option of discussing the matters with a more senior staff member. Please refer to the brochure on complaints procedure for further information. The complaints brochure is available from our Feedback page.

Please be reassured that at all times the Autism Association will strive to provide a service that is meaningful and effective and to resolve concerns as quickly as possible.



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