Department of Human Services

Information for families and friends of the people we support 16 July 2020

Information for families and friends of the people we support

Update as at 16 July 2020

Here is the latest issue of the Accommodation Services Family and Friends e-newsletter.

This e-newsletter provides news and updates about happenings in the service, with this issue featuring an update on our response to COVID-19 and other matters.

If you are the family member, friend or guardian of a person we support in Accommodation Services and don’t currently receive this e-newsletter, please email to sign up.

What the people we support can do

With some restrictions being eased in South Australia, lots of your family and friends are keen to get back to community activities.

We are supporting them to do this where it is safe, including:

  • visiting the shops, a café or hairdresser (and church, pool, sport, gym)
  • maintaining suitable appointments
  • welcoming visitors to their home
  • having visits or overnight stays with family or friends

All of these activities still require:

  • social distancing in line with the state guidelines
  • good hygiene
  • tracing (via the Accommodation Services visitor survey and staff recording outings)
  • good health (if someone is unwell, they should not be going out or expecting their family member or friend can safely visit them)

Our staff are approaching all activities very carefully, and transport is also subject to social distancing requirements in vehicles.

If you are keen to visit your family and friends in their homes, please do so within reason. Safety is paramount, so we recommend that you visit in small groups, and remember to adhere to social distancing. As pointed out above, any house visitors must also do a short survey with staff before entering for contract tracing purposes.

Please speak to your Service Coordinator or Team Leader if you have any questions.

Day options and employment

It is great to see many providers resuming day options activities or employment and as this has happened, we have negotiated for the people we support to safely return.

We are continuing to work with providers around how they plan to meet safety requirements before anyone we support goes back to activities. This involves addressing social distancing requirements, tracing arrangements, continued hand washing and good hygiene, and expectations that if anyone is sick or has flu-like symptoms, they stay home.

Where it is safe to do so, providers can visit a house to offer a person one-to-one support.

The online connection

Thank you to everyone who has joined our online Family and Friends Forums to hear about our response as a service to COVID-19 and other matters.

We have taken these forums online over the past few months due to the circumstances. While we look forward to continuing the online connection, we are also working on possible dates and locations for in-person group meetings with you and other families and friends.

COVID-19 has also changed the way lots of us connect, and many of you have used technology including video-call apps to speak with your family and friends in their homes.

In response to your feedback, zoom is now installed on the house iPads in addition to other apps to help more of you stay in touch. While technology can be fantastic, please bear with staff who may be new to these apps and find using them a little challenging as they support people to make video calls.

Welcome to the Capacity Building team

We are pleased to announce our new Capacity Building team is on deck, covering each of our service areas.

The Capacity Building Officers are working directly with key staff, including those in the homes, to help your family member or friend to develop their confidence and capacity.

We are already seeing how the Capacity Building Officers make a big difference. One example is activity books that they are putting together and distributing to the houses, providing a range of ideas like recipe suggestions, crafts and games.

They are also working to arrange house meetings and are making contact with families and friends about getting involved. Some meetings have already taken place with early success, which the Capacity Building team will help to build on as we go. If you have any questions outside of house meetings, please contact your Service Coordinator.

For more information about capacity building or the house meetings, contact the Team Leader, Capacity Building Tobias Olsson on or 0434 924 740.

Organisational Chart and Role Summary

As requested by a number of families, we are providing our broader Accommodation Services Organisational Chart (PDF 89.3 KB).

The Organisational Chart illustrates how key staff fit into our re-shaped structure and features photos and names so you know who's who.

In addition, you may find the Accommodation Services Roles Summary (PDF 165.9 KB) a helpful read. This summary shares information about the particular teams in our structure, and their responsibilities.

Please talk to your Team Leader if you have any queries.

Zero tolerance to abuse strategy

We are close to finalising a new strategy around zero tolerance to abuse and neglect of people with disability.

At its heart, the strategy will describe activities and drive strong action around recognising, preventing and addressing all forms of abuse and neglect towards those we support.

We are also working with the Office of the Public Advocate around supported decision making to help people achieve independence, choice and control in line with the principles of the NDIS. This is about providing a supportive framework around people who need decision making support about healthcare, accommodation, NDIS planning and personal affairs, and also aims to build capacity and develop aspirations and goals.

This work is based on the important guiding principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including the right to make decisions with support.

Client Influencer Group update

The Client Influencer Group, or People's Advocacy Group, has taken meetings online in recent months using the house iPads with great success.

The group is looking forward to meeting in-person again soon. If you think your family member or friend would like to join, or even get involved in a meeting to see what it is about, please email

On another note, congratulations to group member and stroke survivor Tracey Gibb who has again been recognised, this time nationally in the Stroke Foundation's 2020 Awards in the Courage category - well done Tracey!

Highgate Park consultation now open

People with disability and their families and friends are encouraged to have their say about the legacy of Highgate Park and the future of the supports funded by the trust that owns it.

Highgate Park, previously the Julia Farr Centre, has a long history of supporting people with significant disabilities, having been set up under a charitable trust in 1879. In a milestone for Highgate, the last resident moved out to supported community accommodation in April.

For more information or to get involved in the consultation, visit the YourSAy website.

Service improvements are rolling out

You may remember some discussion at recent online Family and Friends Forums around our efforts to improve processes.

As a service, our work is fundamentally about putting the people we support at the centre of all we do. In line with this, we are reviewing and updating how we work so that we can continue to develop a holistic and consistent wrap-around service for those people and support them to have a fulfilled life.

This month, we are starting to roll out updates to these processes across Accommodation Services and educating staff so they understand and act on these new ways of working.

We will keep you updated as we go on what the changes mean, and how they will impact you and your family member or friend.

House visits resuming in August

Executive Director, Disability Services Joe Young and Director, Accommodation Services Muriel Kirkby will be resuming visits to your family and friends in their homes from next month.

Joe and Muriel were visiting the houses regularly before the recent circumstances around COVID-19 prevented this, and have greatly missed it over the past few months. These visits are a terrific opportunity for both to speak directly to the people we support about how they are feeling, especially what they think is working well and what they would like to see improve.

They intend to visit houses over a few days a month, getting around to all in due course, and are really looking forward to being out on the road again.

Customer Charter update

Our new Accommodation Services Customer Charter is nearly final and we will be providing it to families and friends when it is ready.

This charter is very much a hallmark for our service, detailing what can be expected from us and how we will achieve consistency across key business areas - and we consider it a terrific and positive step forward.

How to contact us

If you have any queries about your family member or friend, you can:

  • contact your Service Coordinator or Team Leader
  • email us at
  • phone us on 1800 952 962 (and then press 3)

If you know another family member or friend who would like to receive this e-newsletter, please encourage them to sign up via the DHS website or phone 1800 952 962.

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Page last updated : 12 Aug 2020

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