Free room for ‘rent’

Facilitating semi-formal shared living opportunities for older Australians and people with disabilities
by Janaya Cox and Rod Campbell

Successful Homeshare programs in the balance as NDIS roll-out offers new risks and opportunities.

A new report from The Australia Institute, released today at the Council on the Ageing national housing policy forum, identifies semi-formal shared living opportunities for older Australians and people with disabilities.

—Full report available in PDF below—

Homeshare models provide free or low-cost housing solutions for young people, in return for them providing companionship and support to elderly people and people with disability who live on their own.

“These services have previously been funded by the State governments and have resulted in many older Australians and people with disability being able to remain in their own home for longer and reduced the amount of formal paid support they require,” Director of Research for The Australia Institute, Rod Campbell said.

“However, Homeshare services are at risk of being discontinued as the funding responsibility for aged care and disability services transition from the States to the Federal Government.

“The National Disability Insurance Scheme and MyAgedCare reforms represent a new era of consumer-directed service delivery and attaches a price to the care a person requires.

This price is based on their formal support needs that cannot be provided from informal sources, such as their existing relationships with their friends, family and local community.

“However, whilst both schemes give the person more power to choose who supports them and under what terms, they also assume a paid relationship between the person and their carer.

“Homeshare arrangements are at risk under this new structure because they are based on the carer providing in-kind supports. As a result they aren’t recognised by the schemes as a formal service that could be available to participants. The reforms therefore have the potential to stifle innovations in service development which are not based on paid relationships. 

“With Australia’s rapidly ageing population and rising levels of unmet need, programs that enable people to remain living in their own home need to be supported. If they aren’t Australia faces an unsustainable pressure on the system as demand for formal services will continue to outstrip supply,” Campbell said.

Full report