India: Partnership Aims to Build Inclusive Housing Project

Asia-Pacific, Built Environment, August 11 2021

INDIA: Who will look after my child after me? This is a common concern parents of children with disabilities have, especially in today’s world where nuclear families are the norm. And as these parents start getting older, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to care for their children on their own. And so far, the answer was to put them in an institutionalised setup, says Gopinath Ramakrishnan, Managing Trustee of Special Child Assistance Network (SCAN), speaking to TNM.

Gopinath says that such institutions isolate young people with disabilities from society and put them into a hostel-like atmosphere. “Especially during COVID-19, we have had situations where one of the parents have fallen ill or passed away, and this has meant that these children had to be put into an institution. But people with disabilities have been always asking for inclusion, to be in the mainstream,” he adds.

SCAN, is a support group for families of special needs children, based in Chennai, which was co-founded by Gopinath Ramakrishnan with Mini Hari in 2012. To cater to the needs of people with special needs, SCAN has now tied up with real estate developer Akshaya Private Ltd to offer homes that are customised in a larger inclusive environment. The project is coming up at Kelambakkam on OMR Road.

The Akshaya Today project, which aims to cater to those above the age of 18,  offers a range of amenities such as a clubhouse, swimming pool, as well as several disability-friendly features such as railings, ramps, audio announcements and braille-text on elevators. It is slated for completion by March 2022.

A unique feature of the SCAN Inclusive Housing initiative at Akshaya Today is the Group Homes that would be managed by SCAN in partnership with certified caregiver initiative Vidya Sagar. These are shared accommodations (co-living) for adults with special needs. “Caregivers will be decided as per the need. Some will need a dedicated full time caregiver with them, some may need only part-time. We will determine the need for a caregiver for each person before they are admitted to the group home, and plan accordingly,” says Gopinath.

The aim is to offer care that is as close as it can get to the care persons with disabilities would get at home, when that option ceases to be available (when parents are too old, for example). The SCAN Group Homes will come with all modern conveniences, appropriate caregiver support for the persons with disability, and managed services for food, housekeeping and maintenance.

SCAN will also offer a vocational centre with a range of self-employment and supported employment options, and a therapy centre to provide required therapies for persons with special needs as well as all others in the Akshaya Today campus.

Talking about the pricing options, Gopinath says that a one-bedroom flat will cost approximately Rs 26 lakh, two-bedroom Rs 44 lakh, and a three-bedroom flat will come for around Rs 55 lakh (there are options to share accommodation as well).

“We are delighted to bring this, first of its kind, initiative to the country. We embarked on an extensive selection process and zeroed in on Akshaya after wide consultations with our members. This has been our dream for many years, and the aim is to facilitate true inclusion where families with special needs are a part of the social fabric as equal citizens, supported with services focused on their unique requirements,” Gopinath adds.

 Originally Published in The News Minute

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