On Monday evenings, you’ll find housemates Dale, Tim, Josh and Paul winding down from work, preparing dinner, and getting ready for the latest episode of Masterchef.
On the menu? Likely a household favourite of pasta, sausages or chicken.
The group lives in a Specialist Disability Accommodation share house provided by social enterprise Bedford Group at its Balyana location.
Located in the Adelaide foothills and only a short distance from Beford’s Panorama site where all four work, Balyana currently houses 60 clients in both apartments and share houses.
Bedford’s SDA accommodation surrounds its Residential Communal Centre (RCC), where Dale, Tim and Josh lived for a number of years before moving out a year ago.
The trio joined Paul, who had been living in the share house with others for over six years.
Bedford Client Services Manager Andrea Hall says it’s been a great transition for everyone involved.
“Getting compatibility right for four adults that don’t know each other is very difficult,” she says.
“But in this particular case, the ingredients are right for that house.”
“They have regular house meetings, and our staff will support them through any concerns."
Dale, Tim, Josh and Paul receive Supported Independent Living (SIL) services in their house, which includes twice-daily visits from a support worker, and sessions with community access workers throughout the week.
“Support is modelled to meet individual needs as they come up. Like many of us, they all have different needs each day,” Andrea says.
“This could be preparing meals to supporting residents with medication or personal care.”
A greater sense of independence
All four men enjoy the independence and dynamics of the share house and each brings their own passions to the 'table'.
Dale has been working in Bedford’s manufacturing business for 10 years and loves living close to work.
“It was exciting to move into this house. I like cooking and going for walks with my support worker,” he says. “It’s a nice group to live with.”
Tim has worked at Bedford for 40 years, and says he enjoys the independence of living at Balyana.
“You can go out on your own and do things by yourself… you can do things at your own pace,” he says.
Balyana’s native surroundings are the perfect location for Tim, especially as he starts work on a nature photography project.
“I went and bought my own camera - it’s a big project,” he says. “I’ll be taking photos of lots of animals and plants.”
“There’s good transport from here like trains and buses. I like to go to Pasadena (Shopping Centre) every now and then as well.”
Bedford support worker Michael Kalikas says each resident has their unique interests but bond really well.
“This household is pretty independent compared to others at Balyana,” he says.
“Dale is really into cars and emergency services, so he likes to check out ambulances, fire trucks and police cars. Every now and then I help Dale out with his gaming, which he’s quite good at and takes a lot of pride in.
“Josh is a big Disney fan, so he’ll often come up with movie ideas for the group to watch, or Paul might recommend something like Star Trek. Masterchef is another popular choice.”
In addition to Michael, community access workers also help residents with event planning, brainstorming activity ideas, and planning things to do on the weekend.
“It’s a social setting but at the same time the house is big enough that if you want your own space you can enjoy that too,” Michael says.
Health, confidence and social skills ‘skyrocketing’
Andrea says moving into a share house has done wonders for the group’s social skills and general wellbeing.
“Tim has a much healthier lifestyle now and is receiving health management appointment support. He has diabetes and was at high risk of becoming unwell before he came to Bedford, when he was living in the community,” she says.
“Josh had never cooked before and he’s now cooking independently, even without support workers, which is a huge benefit for him. We’ve been able to ensure everything is safe for him to do that.”
“Josh’s communication has just exploded. He is self-advocating more strongly than he ever used to. Now, he will tell us if something is wrong or he doesn’t want to do something. He’s a lot clearer in the way he expresses himself which is amazing.”
Andrea says the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has given residents more freedom and greater choice and control.
“Before the NDIS, residents didn't have additional funding to go out and explore in the community on their own with a support worker,” she says.
“They don’t have to always go out in groups all the time now. They can go out and do what they want to do - that’s a big plus for all of our residents here.”