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From psychiatric hospital to supported housing: the Neami Community Housing Program, Melbourne, Australia, 1995–2008

Housing for people with disability Schizophrenia Supported accommodation People with disability Residential care Australia Melbourne

In 1995, a small non-government organisation called Neami was funded to provide housing and support for 30 former long-stay patients from a local psychiatric institution in Melbourne. Aged between early 20s and early 50s and diagnosed with schizophrenia or related conditions, the patients had been assessed by clinical staff as being unable to cope in the community without intensive support. As the institution in which they had been inpatients was closing, new forms of supported housing had to be found. Thirteen years later, many of the people discharged in 1995 remain in the housing provided through this program.

The aim of this paper is to document the experience of the Neami Community Housing Program. The paper recounts how the program came about, describes the model it employs, and considers how its practice has changed over time. It then examines outcomes for clients at one year and twelve years after leaving hospital, and considers some implications for practice. The paper concludes by identifying characteristics of the Neami Community Housing Program model that have been critical to its success.

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