Residents of supported accommodation design their own 'Party Room'

15 June 2020

Choice and control were at the forefront as staff supported residents to turn an unused space in their share house into a ‘party room’ that they designed.

Sometimes a new perspective can make all the difference when seeing the potential of a space, which is precisely what happened at a Disability Supported Accommodation house in south-east Sydney.

As one of many Supported Accommodation houses across New South Wales that transferred to Life Without Barriers from the Department of Family and Community Services, it wasn’t until Support Coordinator, Rachel Bartley, started working with the house residents last November, that she noticed an unused room.

“There was this storage room full of old equipment that we didn’t need, so it had the potential to be so much more,” says Rachel, reflecting on how the idea came about. “The Team leader and I spoke with the three ladies who live in the house about how they would like to see in that space used instead. They wanted it to be a bit of a mix of sensory, pampering and craft.”

Guided by feedback from the residents, staff began sourcing items to turn their vision into a reality, such a fairy lights, craft activities and music devices. Then just as the they finally had all the supplies ready, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australia, and Sydney went into lockdown.

“In a way the timing was perfect for this project – lockdown meant we had all this time at home and all the resources on hand to decorate and transform the room,” says Rachel. “Both staff and residents helped to bring it all together and once finished, it also gave the ladies an extra space to use while having to stay at home.”

Today the former storage room is now a colourful multi-functional space, which residents have called “the party room”. It contains various lighting features and space to do craft activities for a visual sensory experience, as well as an area for residents to pamper themselves and use scented items, for touch and olfactory stimulation.

“They go in and out of the room every day, they seem to take it in turns and allow each other space when they are in there,” adds Rachel. “They do request to have their disco in there and one of the other ladies requested to go in and have a hand massage.”

As Kylie, one of the residents explains, “this is my special getaway place when the girls are too noisy - I feel I am in the ocean. I want the same in the backyard.”

Kylie’s sights on transforming the backyard are also underway, as staff have already begun sourcing solar lights and colourful flowers.

“The team has been suitably inspired by what they can achieve that they have now started on the backyard area,” says Rachel, “and I cannot what to see wait they can do with that.”

The efforts of Rachel and the team behind the new party room demonstrate Life Without Barriers’ values of being responsive, using imagination to maximise an opportunity, and building relationships with residents to ensure their wants, needs and ideas drove how they transformed the space.

Well done to all and we hope you enjoy the beautiful new party room.