It is envisaged that MyHome in Canberra will be a new building or set of buildings 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 personal support, 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 have 15 one-bedroom units, each with a bathroom plus mini-laundry and mini-kitchen, and a two-bedroom unit for a live-in manager. Additional facilities will most likely be a communal area for recreation and dining, a commercial-standard kitchen, and an adequate outdoor private space. 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.
MyHome’s management committee will become an Operating Board with tasks including –
- overseeing a Tenancy Committee which will select residents and handle any disputes which arise over the terms of residents’ leases (see below),
- maintaining the buildings and common areas,
- fostering good relations between MyHome and the surrounding community, and
- continuing with fund-raising to secure MyHome’s longer-term future.
It’s also envisaged that there will be a separate agency employing the live-in manager and other staff to provide support for residents, facilitate visits by support workers, select and train volunteers, and promote activities which link MyHome to the local community.
The Operating Board, Tenancy Committee and service-providing agency will collaborate with mental health professionals, community organisations and others to facilitate care and support for residents.
MyHome’s model of care includes a recovery framework. By providing secure long-term accommodation for people with enduring mental illness, MyHome will restore their sense of hope, self-worth, confidence and belonging. This will enable them to exercise control and choice, and to live more productive lives within the community.
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 will have periods, rentals and conditions which may vary according to residents’ individual situations; but we shall aim as far as possible to give tenants a reasonable expectation of a permanent home.
Cost and finance
The MyHome management committee has as one of its tasks to develop a robust business plan for the operating model we envisage. As we work on this our main ideas are:
- through generous cooperation of the Uniting Church, we expect a suitable part of its site in Curtin will be made available on concessional terms;
- we hope that the ACT Government will, when key conditions are fulfilled, meet the cost of construction and fit-out of the MyHome buildings;
- the main operating expenses will be for a live-in manager and other staff, utilities, and maintenance of upkeep of the buildings and common areas;
- the reliable streams of 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;
- it’s likely there will be a substantial excess of expenses over income, and so we shall need to raise from non-government sources a set of contributions and commitments to a sizeable back-up fund.