People with a disability, being looked after by an ageing carer, number more than 3000 in NSW. This figure has doubled in the last 7 years.
There is a severe lack of suitable living environments where ageing people with intellectual disability AND their ageing Parent / Carer can live out their lives together. Assisting in meeting this need, Edmiston Jones designed a group of 12 houses, a community hall and a 5-bed respite centre, now under construction in Kanahooka, a western suburb of Wollongong.
The Pathways Project (a collaboration between IRT, Greenacres Disability Services, Community Options Illawarra and Interchange Illawarra) is designed to provide purpose built homes for ageing people with disabilities. It is aimed at helping families avoid the need for costly, and possibly compromised, refurbishments to their current home. This innovative age care model allows people with a disability to move into a fully accessible home with a carefully considered layout and facilities that will meet their increasing needs over time.
The site benefits from a northerly aspect and distant views to the escarpment. The design of the houses and the landscaping reinforces a sense of identity for the “village within a village” adjacent the established Williams Beach Gardens aged care community. In this well resourced context, the ageing people with an intellectual disability can participate in activities with their peers. It also provides a community where their older carers can meet with others in their age group – combining aged and disability services in a unique, supportive environment.
Australia is now seeing a generation where significant numbers of people with intellectual disability are ageing into retirement years – and outliving their parents. This project is important as it recognises that ageing parents who continue to provide care, often do this without receiving any support for their own ageing needs.