In 2013, the NSW government was preparing to move people with severe disabilities out of large institutional settings at Rydalmere and Westmead Residential Centres; and into newly established group homes around Sydney.
This is a significant social reform in NSW, and fits within a broader ‘human rights approach’ to disability services. Careful planning for the evaluation of how this impacted on residents’ quality of life was an integral part of the process.
In 2013, Matrix worked with the Centre for Disability Studies to develop the Quality of Life (QoL) Study Framework.
In 2014 Matrix carried out Stage 1 of the study which collected, analysed and evaluated baseline data from a random sample of 129 residents who were living in the Metro Residences, as well as their families and staff, prior to their transition into group homes in the community.
In 2017, Stage 2 of the study collected a second round of data from the residents, their families and carers, and compared it and analysed it against the 2014 baseline data. It also collected evidence to determine the extent to which the redevelopment program has changed the quality of life for the residents who lived at Rydalmere and Westmead Centres; and to highlight any key issues or key learnings to inform future, large scale FACS reforms.
At all stages of the study, in consultation with the client, Matrix agreed on a consistent and rigorous approach that acknowledged and accommodated the challenges of working with people with intellectual and physical disabilities; and used instruments and processes that validated data effectively.
The Stage 2 Study concluded that the quality of life for most of the residents has improved significantly and the move into a home in the community has been life changing. The indicators of the greatest quality of life improvement are those of personal development, emotional well-being and material well-being.
These indicators appear to directly relate to residents being able to have their own home, engage in domestic tasks and home rituals, and with this, having increased opportunity to make day to day choices. The study also showed that most residents have more fun and enjoyment now they live in the home environment.