This was a study of outcomes arising from the de-institutionalisation of Kew Cottages. One hundred residents moved to 20 group homes in the new commercial housing development built on the 27-hectare KRS site, which were ‘integrated into the new suburb on site’ rather than forming a cluster development (u.d. Department of Human Services).
No great surprises with improvements in life quality for just about everyone. More interesting is the discussion about the importance of community participation and how to achieve it. No quick fixes including that staff attitudes are part of the solution. Most commonly staff perceived community inclusion for a resident to be the use of public and commercial facilities, and community participation to be activity in either the community or their home. Few perceived community participation as interaction with community members, and a majority saw resident characteristics as the major obstacle to both community inclusion and participation.
The study concludes that if the aspirations of current disability policy are going to be realised, and more than community presence be achieved, it is necessary to spell out much more clearly what is meant by community participation and its possible manifestations for people with an intellectual disability, as well as develop and refine the practices and technologies to support its development.
If we really want better outcomes for people with intellectual disability, we better start grappling with reports like this one and begin or continue to really consider what are genuine and meaningful ways they can be assisted to actually participate in the community.