Like many elderly carers, Jeannette Quilty has long worried about who will care for her intellectually disabled daughter, Josie, when she is gone.
Those concerns were this week eased with the news that IRT will be able to forge ahead with its plans to develop a purpose-built community where ageing people with a disability can live with their ageing parents who care for them.
IRT will receive $2.9 million from the NSW government's $100 million Restart Illawarra infrastructure fund to build 12 homes and a respite centre on land adjacent to IRT William Beach Gardens at Kanahooka.
It is a revolutionary model of care which is the first of its kind in the region - if not the nation - and Mrs Quilty hopes to be one of the first to take up residence.
"I'm getting older and less able to look after Josie," she said. "My main concern was whether she would be adequately cared for when I pass on.
"To be able to move in with Josie to a community like this, to live with her and continue to care for her while getting the support we both need, is just wonderful.
"Then Josie will be settled and won't have the upheaval of me dying and leaving her, and having to move into a group home."
IRT chief executive Nieves Murray said the organisation had been hoping to put this model of care in place for some time.
"One of the triumphs of medicine is that people with an intellectual disability are now living much longer lives, which is great," she said.
"But with that comes some issues around what happens once their parents, who are their carers, pass away or become too frail to look after them.
"What this project will help us do is test a model that keeps the parent/carer with their child with a disability who is also ageing.
"This model will make the younger person with an intellectual disability the main tenant so they will have security of tenure, and a neighbourhood of support once their parent/carer passes on."
Ms Murray said there was plenty of demand. In 2008, there were 1449 people with a disability in NSW being cared for by an ageing carer; in 2013, that figure had reached more than 3000.
The IRT project - a partnership with Greenacres Disability Services, Community Options Illawarra and Interchange Illawarra - would cater for 40 people, with construction expected to begin in late 2014.
"IRT will provide support services to the older person and our partners will provide support to the person with an intellectual disability," she said.
Ms Murray said the partners hope to demonstrate to the rest of the country that such partnerships can work, and are financially sustainable.