The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is working to give National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Participants more housing options.
Those choices include home modification budgets, Supported Independent Living (SIL), Individualised Living Options (ILO), and Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA).
This article focuses on SDA.
What is SDA?
SDA doesn’t include the actual supports or services that you receive in your home, like a support person. Other budgets within your NDIS plan fund those services.
You’ll need to pay rent and other day-to-day living costs such as bills out of pocket. Your NDIS Plan does not cover daily living expenses.
Other than Specialist Disability Accommodation, the NDIA rarely funds housing.
What if I Need Crisis Housing?
If you’re at risk of homelessness or family violence, the Victorian State Government has services to help.
Who is Eligible for SDA?
Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) is a great option for people with high needs. It works together to create the best social support system for you.
Step 1: You Must be Eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
If you have an NDIS Plan, you can skip straight to step 2.
Otherwise, read our guide on how to apply for the NDIS.
Step 2: You Must Complete a Government Agency Form and Get Approved
Fill out the Home and Living Supports Request Form.
Based on the goals in your NDIS plan, the NDIA will discuss the accommodation services that best meet your needs.
They’ll consider many types of funding, including supported accommodation offered within your local community, before it approves a budget for Specialist Disability Accommodation. For example, they may decide you’ll benefit from shared, supported accommodation or living in community residential units.
The NDIA will only approve SDA if you need supported accommodation, and need top levels of support provided.
How Does the NDIA Choose Who to Approve for SDA?
The NDIA considers three questions:
- Do you have a significant functional impairment or very high support needs?
- Is SDA funding the best option for meeting your needs?
- Does SDA meet the funding guidelines for you and your plan?
1) Do You Have an “Extreme Functional Impairment” or Very “High Support Needs?”
Extreme Functional Impairment Defined
If you have difficulty completing regular daily tasks, the NDIA might classify you as having an extreme functional impairment.
Types of tasks this applies to include:
- Mobility: walking, going up or down stairs, carrying things around your home or leaving your home.
- Self-care: washing, toileting, eating, getting dressed, or taking your medications.
- Self-management: doing housework, maintaining friendships, or managing your behaviour.
High Support Needs Defined
If you need a Disability Support Worker with you throughout the day, the NDIA could regard you as having high needs. The NDIA will also consider:
- If your family and friends could not meet your needs or if your informal supports aren’t available.
- If SDA would reduce your safety risks, like getting out of your home in an emergency.
2) Is SDA Funding the Best Way to Meet Your Needs?
NDIA assessment staff need to be confident that SDA is the right long-term care option for you. They’ll consider whether SDA can reduce your overall needs and improve your quality of life.
Once you’re approved, the NDIA will work with you to decide what type of housing would best meet your needs.
NDIA will consider three components:
- What design elements need to be included?
- What type of building would work best?
- Where do you want to live?
1) Design Elements
The National Disability Insurance Agency considers four design elements:
- Improved liveability. A home classified as Improved Livability would provide better physical access for the residents. Specially designed features may be better for people with sensory, intellectual, or cognitive impairments.
- Fully accessible. For people with significant physical challenges, the resident may need a home that is accessible to various physical aids, like walkers or wheelchairs.
- Robust. This type of home would be strong and durable, reducing the need for extensive maintenance. A robust home might be best for residents managing complex or challenging behavioural issues.
- High physical support. If residents need significant physical access, this would include things like a ceiling hoist, backup power, special automation, or assistive technology.
2) Building Types
Four building types get considered when looking at disability accommodation:
- Apartments: self-contained units that are part of a larger residential building.
- Duplexes, villas, townhouses: separate but semi-attached properties within a single land lot.
- Houses: detached low-rise buildings with garden or courtyard areas.
- Group homes: houses that have four or five residents.
You and the NDIA will consider if a specific location will help you meet your goals.
- Will it improve your access to disability services?
- Will it increase your ability to take part in community activities?
- Will it help you connect to your culture?
- Will it let you stay connected to your family and informal support networks?
If the NDIA determines you don’t need Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), they’ll discuss other accommodation options that can help, like assistive technology, home modifications, or Supported Independent Living.
Step 3: You Must Find An SDA Provider
The NDIA approves SDA Providers and they must follow all price and construction guidelines. To find a provider, use the NDIS SDA Finder.
Finding Accommodation When You Have a Disability: Conclusion
Getting approved for SDA is hard. But if you’re convinced you need it, persist.
Summary of the 3 Steps to Access SDA
Here’s what you need to do to access SDA:
- Step 1: Have an NDIS Plan.
- Step 2: Complete the application form and get approved.
- Step 3: Find an SDA Provider.
The SALT Foundation is Here to Help
Just for sake of clarity, the SALT Foundation is not an SDA Provider, we’re a not-for-profit NDIS Provider. We offer innovative services like group activities from the comfort of your home with SALT TV.
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Susie Taylor spent nearly 29 years as the primary carer for her son with multiple disabilities until his death in June 2021. She has two other adult sons, one (28) who has learned to thrive with ADHD and another (24) who has overcome epilepsy and is leading a thrilling life with suspected high-functioning autism.