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  • Writer's pictureTania Griffiths

Creating a home with Housemates

“In life we may live in many different homes, but where we are loved and feel safe that is the place where we are at home with family or friends.” Catherine Pulsifer

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has brought the opportunity for a shift in how people receive supports and live lives that bring about choice and control. We would call those ordinary lives! When we think about home, the terms used in the sector of accommodation, group homes, shared living, specialist disability accommodation and supported independent living are not ordinary to us. Google what home means and hundreds of references, writings and words appear. When I think of home the words of connection, safety, family, individuality, comfort and belonging resonate with me. What does home mean to you?

For many people living with disability, these are not words that would resonate. For many people home has become a business, regimented by rules, rosters, loss of control and inability to make meaningful choices. Many people do not have relationships outside of the paid staff there to provide support. I read a post recently on a social media page that a staff member was concerned that ‘resident X’ was not allowed to drink alcohol, and the company would not allow it as they were concerned about risk (full stop!). Imagine that!

For many people living in these arrangements, there has been no opportunity to choose who they live with, if there is anything in common, or if they get on with each other. Imagine that! For many people, one of life’s transitions is to move out of home and live with other people, or housemates. Some people choose to remain living in these arrangements long after the late teenage/early adulthood years. The model of Housemates for people living with disability is nothing new, and many people have successfully been supported to set up a home of their own with housemates. A model where people live together and share all aspects of living in a home, supporting each other, developing reciprocal relationships, equality, security and belonging.

Many parents of people living with disability and supporters hold a vision for their loved one to have a home of their own, go to work, have great friends, know their neighbours and develop long and lasting relationships. Pretty ordinary right? It all starts with a vision, and intentional work to map, plan, design and explore.

The NDIS introduced in 2020 Individualised Living Options (ILO) as an alternative to group homes that focus on the individual. The agency recognised that many people with disability need a lot of support to live independently, but don’t want to live in a group home with other people. There are many possible scenarios from housemates, host family arrangements, living with other people, living alone or another arrangement - anything is potentially possible – how incredibly exciting!

Stage One of ILO is all about Explore and Design – understanding what matters to the person with disability, who is important, what home could look like, where home might be, hopes, dreams and aspirations; and what supports are required, formal, informal, and local.

At Doing it Different (DiD) we specialise in Stage One of ILO. We work with you to imagine, explore, plan, and design your home – perhaps with a Housemate or two! We use universally designed person centred tools and approaches to bring your dream to reality.

If you would like to discuss this further and find out more about ILO contact us at

‘The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned’

Maya Angelou

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