The disability housing crisis
64-year-old Gary Madden was officially diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at 35 years old, and as a consequence of the shortfall of Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) available on the Sunshine Coast, he had to move four hours away from his family to get the right care.
The high demand for specialist, high-care housing has created a disability housing crisis forcing young people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), other neurological conditions and High Physical Support needs to live in aged care, in hospital, or other inappropriate circumstances.
Evolving and progressing from Project Dignity 120 (PD 120), the Best Life Project is our new initiative that aims to tackle the high care housing crisis. MS Queensland’s Best Life Project is our commitment to building Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) ourselves and also about leveraging our expertise in this field and partnering with supporters, developers and investors to help them deliver their own SDA. The Best Life Project also extends to the 24/7 specialised care our staff are providing through Supported Independent Living (SIL) services across the state.
The Queensland disability housing crisis is tearing Gary’s family apart and with 180 people living on the Sunshine Coast currently in need of Specialist Disability Accommodation*, MS Queensland recognises the gap in the disability housing market is becoming increasingly dire.
“The first time I got to see my family in person in over six months was to celebrate my mum’s 90th birthday but this took over a month of planning. Family is the most important, and it’s the one thing I miss most about living on the Sunshine Coast – being close to my family,” Gary said.
Bringing Gary home
Gary’s children, Amy and Steven, have young children and demanding jobs, and his 91-year-old mother, Fay, is unable to travel on her own to Springfield (150km away) to visit Gary at home, meaning family visits sadly are few and far between.
“Dad doesn’t have a choice about everything that has been taken from him because he has MS, but he should have the choice about where he lives. There’s no cure for MS but there is a cure for living too far away,” Amanda said.
MS Queensland is calling on the community to help build a better life for people like Gary with the launch of its first public fundraising campaign as part of its Best Life Project, to support the build of 12 specialist, independent-living apartments in Sippy Downs, Sunshine Coast. After the opening of its Wellbeing Centre on the Sunshine Coast last year, MS Queensland Chief Executive Officer David Curd said these apartments are the next steps in maximising the independence and quality of life for people living with high support needs and well as providing a relevant and tailored service in the region.
“In building these purpose-built apartments on the Sunshine Coast, MS Queensland hopes to improve the quality of life for people like Gary, which is why we urge the community to be a critical part of our plan.
“Sippy Downs is a life-changing project for 12 Queenslanders who will call it home thanks to public donations that will help them lead their best life possible. With the support of our generous community, we can bring Gary home.
Be a part of the plan
MS Queensland is hoping to raise over $1,000,000 to see Gary’s journey home become a reality, with funds going towards the build of the $7.5 million apartments as well as purchasing all the specialist items needed for residents to move in.
To become a part of the plan, contact MS Queensland on 1800 841 922 or visit msqld.org.au/bestlife to donate.
References: *Summer Housing Report March 2020, ^Australian Government Productivity Commission, Report on Government Services 2020