Although small scale, this study has added new knowledge to the limited understanding of the supported living arrangements for people with intellectual disability in Australia, and to the wider literature. As well as painting a detailed picture of the life circumstances of people in supported living it has provided more evidence about its benefits compared to group homes and the overlapping populations of these two service types. It will potentially inform service design and development of ISPs by illustrating the range of support that may be required, key elements of all support and the practical drop in support with unlimited back up that works well for service users.
We have provided evidence of the importance of participation in regular structured activity to the quality of life of people in supported living and the need to build this into costs and design of ISPs. The study has illustrated the shortcoming of current support arrangements and the challenges that will have to be met if supported living expands in the future, particularly in finding effective strategies to support people to develop friendships and negotiate difficult relationships with others be they utility sales people, neighbours, co-tenants or community members with negative attitudes towards people with disabilities.
Our study suggests too the need for continuing work on broader structural impediments to the quality of life people with intellectual disability, such as negative community attitudes, unresponsive systems such as the State Trustees and the shortage of affordable social housing dispersed throughout the community.