It is envisaged that MyHome in Canberra will be a new building specially designed to meet the long‑term accommodation needs of people with enduring mental illness.
It will have both self-contained units for residents and common areas in which they can prepare and eat meals together and have other group activities. Thereby, and through the support of a manager, visiting support workers and a volunteer team, residents will be encouraged to participate in everyday activities such as cooking, cleaning, budgeting, shopping and gardening, so as to increase their social inclusion and build life skills.
MyHome will provide 20 one-bedroom units, each with an en-suite and a kitchen. Ancillary facilities will most likely include a manager’s residence, commercial kitchen, communal dining and recreation areas, and adequate outdoor spaces and courtyards. The design will be one which looks and feels like a set of home units in a community setting.
As the model of care specifies, it’s envisaged that residents will be supported by a live-in manager, visiting support workers and a team of volunteers. There will be an Operating Board with tasks including selecting residents (through a Tenancy Committee including suitably qualified advisers), employing the manager, maintaining common areas, arranging for visits by support workers, selecting and training volunteers, and handling any disputes which arise over the terms of residents’ leases (see below). The Operating Board and the manager will collaborate with mental health professionals, community organisations and volunteers to facilitate care and support for residents.
MyHome’s model of care also represents a recovery framework. By providing secure and safe accommodation for people with enduring mental illness, MyHome will restore their sense of hope, self-worth, confidence and belonging, and thereby enable them to exercise control and choice and to live full and productive lives within the community.
Cost and finance
Until the Board formulates a fully-specified development proposal, we are using the following provisional estimates:
- through generous cooperation of the Uniting Church, we expect suitable land in Curtin will be made available on concessional terms;
- the cost of construction and fit-out of MyHome as a stand‑alone development is estimated at about $7-8 million;
- the main operating expenses will be for a live-in manager, utilities and maintenance, and are likely to be in the range of $0.5-1 million per year;
- operating income will be what residents can afford to pay as rent and utility charges, plus what social services and NDIS pay on their behalf – which as yet is difficult to estimate;
- the gap between operating expenses and income will need to be met from some combination of government subsidy, families and other donations.
Terms for residents
Eligibility criteria for residents are outlined in the model of care. They will be applied to applicants by a Tenancy Committee, exercising the powers of the Operating Board but including people qualified by knowledge of treatment and services in the ACT for people with mental illnesses.
The Tenancy Committee will make individual assessments of those seeking to be residents, and on that basis offer each a separate lease. These tenancy leases are likely to have periods, rentals and conditions which vary according to residents’ individual situations; but we shall aim as far as possible to give tenants a reasonable expectation of a permanent home.