Nicole’s Story


An independent study by disability services provider Sylvanvale has shown that, understandably, guilt is one of the biggest reasons why families don't place their loved-ones into supported accommodation.

The qualitative study - which was a mix of focus groups and individual in-depth interviews amongst people with disability and their families - found that people are confronted by a range of emotions, including guilt, fear and anxiety. "Understandably, It's a huge thing for families to move loved ones into supported accommodation," said Sylvanvale's CEO Leanne Fretten.

A Sylvanvale family member who has felt this mix of emotions is Simonn Stratton, whose sister Nicole now lives at a Sylvanvale home in Sydney's South West. "Because of Nicole's needs, because she needs 24/7 support, it was deemed that she needed to go into supported accommodation. But thankfully we found Sylvanvale."

Emotion is leading to missed opportunities for many families who are now entitled to supported accommodation under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). "Prior to the NDIS it was much harder to get loved ones into supported accommodation," says Leanne Fretten.

"Under the NDIS, eligible people are entitled to funding for Supported Independent Living. A good time to ask for this is when formulating their NDIS Plan or going through their Plan Review. If they haven't lived in Supported Independent Living before, they need to have this in their Plan as a goal."

There are a significant number of people living in South Western Sydney who are likely to be eligible for supported accommodation. The 2011 ABS Census of Population and Housing identified almost 48,000 people living in South Western Sydney with a profound or severe disability.

So how can families overcome their guilt and place their loved-one in supported accommodation? According to Sylvanvale's CEO Leanne Fretten, "It's natural for a parent to feel guilty. But as difficult as it may be, it's a natural progression for a child with or without disability to reach the milestone of moving out of home."

"To help make this transition easier for the family it's important to find an accommodation provider that you trust and feel comfortable with," said Leanne. "Communication is very important. We talk to the families, we let them know what their loved one has been doing and how they are. We become their family, and they become our family too."

Simonn said, "Because of the staff's consistent approach in creating a safe and secure environment for her, Nicole now calls Sylvanvale's house her home."

Sylvanvale offers a range of Supported Independent Living options (Supported accommodation) across the greater Sydney region including South West and Western Sydney for people with intellectual disabilty. We offer support to individuals who have NDIS funding and specifically those who have accommodation in their NDIS Plan and are eligible for Specialist Disability Funding."

Our homes are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have several different offerings including shared houses, self-contained units and two and three bedroom villas.