How do I choose SDA that’s right for me?
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How do I choose SDA that’s right for me?

Under the NDIS, Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) is a range of housing designed for people with extreme functional impairment or very high needs. It could be a group home shared with a small number of other people, or a home where you live by yourself.

If you have high support needs or functional impairment, you may qualify for SDA funding. Your Support Coordinator – working with an Occupational Therapist – should be able to explain how SDA works, if you meet the eligibility criteria, and help you find long-term housing that meets your needs. But you might be wondering how to choose an SDA home that works for you. There are plenty of Specialist Disability Accommodation providers to choose from, with lots of different options available. What are the most important things to consider? How do you make a good decision?

Here are some questions to ask an NDIS SDA provider when deciding where you’d like to live.

Does the SDA home have what you need?
Is the home in a good location?
Do you want to live with others or on your own?
Is the provider experienced with SDA?
What are the staff like?
Does the SDA provider have SIL?
What expenses are there outside of your SDA funding?
Can you see yourself living there?

Does the home have what you need?

The first thing to check is whether the Specialist Disability Accommodation provider is NDIS-registered, approved, and follows the SDA Design Standard (as determined by an accredited third-party SDA assessment). The home they provide must match the dwelling type (the design categories or building types are Improved Liveability, Fully Accessible, Robust Construction and High Physical Support), features and location that is specified in your NDIS plan.

When you meet with them, ask them about the home’s design features. SDA homes usually have modifications, accessible features and assistive technology to keep you safe and comfortable. It should have easy access for people with disability. Depending on your behaviour support plan or housing plan, some specialist design features will be important to you, such as:

  • Easy access showers with grab rails and handrails
  • Wide corridors and doorways, ramps and lifts for easy wheelchair use
  • Robust building construction of the property
  • A ceiling hoist in bedrooms to assist person transfers
  • physical access provision and enhanced provision
  • Easy access power points and light switches
  • Monitoring systems and emergency alarms
  • Smart technology for environment control
  • Design features for sensory needs, physical impairment, or cognitive impairments

Ask for a tour of the home, so you can see for yourself if it meets your needs. Specialist Disability Accommodation should support your independence, making it easier for you to practice self-care, be healthy, enjoy time with friends and family and work or study. Check if you will have your own bedroom, and if it is well set up for independent living. It’s worth taking the time to see if a home will enhance your lifestyle.

Is the home in a good location?

Where disability housing is located plays a big part in whether you’ll be happy long-term. Ideally, your NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation should be in a safe area, close to your support network, and within easy access of places you go on a regular basis, such as a shopping centre. Some things to find out are:

  • Would you like to live near family members or friends?
  • Do you want to stay in your local community, or are you happy to live elsewhere?
  • Is it close to necessities such as shops and medical centres?
  • Is it close to public transport? What are the transport systems like in the area – are they convenient?
  • Is it in a secure neighbourhood where you feel safe?
  • Is it close to the types of recreation you enjoy? (e.g. parks, walking tracks, entertainment venues, cafes)
  • If you work or study, are you able to easily travel there from your home?
  • Are there safe spaces where you can do exercise that you enjoy?
  • What’s the noise level in the neighbourhood where you live?
  • Does it have places in the community that are culturally significant to you? (e.g. places of worship, cultural groups and activities)
  • Do you see yourself living in the area long term?
  • Will you be able to reach your goals and enjoy quality of life in this environment?

Do you want to live with others or on your own?

Specialist Disability Accommodation can be in a shared home with a small number of other eligible participants (this is sometimes called a group home). In some circumstances, an NDIS participant may choose to live by themselves, if it best suits their needs.

There are benefits to both types of living arrangements. Living with others can be a good way to make new friends, widen your community and enjoy relaxing with others at home. Living on your own may suit those who enjoy their own company and prefer to have their own space. If you do choose to live alone, make sure you have a support network you can rely on.

Is the provider experienced with SDA?

There are many SDA providers on the market for people with disability, which can make it difficult to choose the right one. It’s worth choosing someone who is experienced with NDIS disability accommodation, so they can ensure your funding is properly used towards making your home liveable. They should be able to act in your best interest, give you the information you need, and support you to make good decisions about your housing.

Your SDA provider should also be committed to providing an individualised service that treats each client as unique. Make sure they are experienced at understanding your housing needs, responding to feedback, solving problems and providing high quality service, so you can live in a home you love.

What are the staff like?

Get to know the team and learn about their approach to SDA and disability care. They should be welcoming, inclusive, helpful and good at listening to your point of view. Ask them what opportunities are available in your home, the design of the building, and the kind of tenancy support you can expect. They should be willing to build a strong, collaborative relationship with you as an NDIS participant. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you have, as their job is to help you get the support you need.

The provider should also have a complaints management and resolution system that meets NDIS requirements. Talk to them about what happens if you have a problem with your home – how you can give feedback, and what the provider will do with their feedback to ensure a resolution.

Does the SDA provider have SIL?

Supported Independent Living (SIL) is a type of NDIS support that helps people with disability be independent. It includes things like help with daily living tasks, personal care, domestic assistance, transport, living supports, building different types of independent living skills, and help reaching your goals.

While SDA is the dwelling you live in, Supported Independent Living refers to the on-site support services you receive to help you live independently. If you require both SDA and SIL because of your disability, the NDIS will fund them separately, and you can choose different providers for each one. Sometimes, though, you may want the option of choosing the same provider for your SDA housing and SIL support. If so, check the SDA provider can also support you with SIL.

What expenses are there outside of your SDA funding?

SDA funding covers the cost of the dwelling you are living in, including reactive maintenance and repairs. It doesn’t cover rent, utilities and other personal costs. You will need to pay rent to your SDA provider, so check how much this is as you’re making your decision.

Note that the maximum reasonable rent contribution you will be asked to pay is 25 percent of the base standard rate of the Disability Support Pension, and any other rent assistance you may qualify for.

Can you see yourself living there?

SDA accommodation should feel like home. It should be a place where you can be yourself. Tour the house or apartment before you make a choice to see if you feel comfortable with the environment. Can you picture yourself living there in the long term? Do you like the design of the home? Are you happy with features such as the physical access provision? Is it close to the things that matter to you? Will you be able to have the lifestyle you want? Are there opportunities to take part in activities that you enjoy?

If you are considering a group home or shared dwelling, try to meet your house mates before moving in. You may be spending a lot of time together, so it’s good to see if you get along.

Home Caring provides high quality SDA  Apartments in Sydney and Melbourne. Our housing for people with disability are all ideally located in thriving suburbs close to all amenities. Enjoy a great environment with plenty of support, modern furnishings and everything you need for independence. 

To talk to someone about your NDIS accommodation needs or accessible housing, please get in touch.

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