What is Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)

What is Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)

People living with a disability may encounter a difficult and daunting process when moving out of their home to exercise their independence in society. The  ‘Specialist Disability Accommodations’ is a support service provided by the Australian government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme, which can give participants the help they need to live a more fulfilling and independent life.

Specialist disability accommodation, or SDA is a type of housing supported by NDIS designed for people living with high-level functional impairment or very high support needs. It is provided to give them the support they need to transition to independent living in order to reach their personal goals.

Maple Community Services is an experienced provider of SDA in the New South Wales region and we have a wealth of knowledge regarding the SDA process. It can be a confusing process to navigate, and we want to share what we have learnt from our experience, to make the transition easier for our clients.

What is Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)?

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) enables participants to move out of their home and live more independently, with the help of additional SDA support services and with increased access to the assistance they need to achieve their therapeutic and functional goals. 

SDA is one of the many support options available from Maple Community Services through partnerships and, if an NDIS participant is eligible, can be covered by a specialised category of funding for SDA.

How Does SDA Housing Work?

Although SDA can be life changing for those who qualify, it can be a challenging application process to prove that a participant is eligible for this level of support. It requires extensive research and assessments with grounded evidence. For this reason, the process of applying and transitioning into SDA can be a little complicated and there’s a lot of uncertainty around how it works. By reading up about the process and speaking to those who have already been through it, you can gain insight and confidence to complete the transition yourself and that’s where Maple Community Services can help.

What is Required for a Successful SDA Application?

Housing Application

The application process can be slow and a lot of research is required. First of all, check with Maple to find a unit that suits you. Once you apply and receive a conditional offer from us, you will need to complete the housing application to prove that you are eligible for SDA. Your Support Coordinator at Maple Community Services can help you complete the housing application. It should include evidence that no other house or unit was otherwise suitable for you and your needs; some groundwork research might be necessary to show sufficient proof. 

Functional Assessment

You can work with your Occupational Therapist to complete a functional assessment. This will demonstrate the activities you can do independently in your home and those you may need assistance with. It also demonstrates your level of impairment and why it makes SDA the only suitable option right now.

Support Network

Your Support Coordinator, OT, and SDA provider can be useful allies during this process. They can help you with research and to paint a full picture of what your disability entails and what you need, so be sure to reach out to them and keep them updated through each step in the process.

Submitting your Application

Your Housing Application can be submitted to SDA through your NDIS planner. The SDA panel will review your application and decide if you meet the criteria. This may take time, so try to be patient. After finding out the outcome of your application, if you’re not happy with the decision, you can review it with your Support Coordinator and your NDIS Planner. They can contact the SDA panel on your behalf while sourcing additional information from your SDA Provider if necessary.

What is Covered By Specialist Disability Accommodation?

SDA cannot put money towards ownership or renting a house. Additionally, electricity, hot water, internet, and other utilities are all paid by the participant. You can think of it as SDA paying for all the disability-specific requirements within the home, such as any apparatus or modifications.

If you qualify for SDA funding, it funds a certain amount towards a brick and mortar home for you to live in. Depending on your needs, there are four types of homes available with SDA funding known as Design Categories:

  • Improved Livability – a home with a ‘reasonable’ level of physical access for people with sensory, intellectual, or cognitive impairment.
  • Fully Accessible – a home with a high level of physical access for people living with physical impairment. This includes wheelchair accessibility in the bathroom, kitchen, and external areas.
  • High Physical Support – a home with a very high level of specialised design and physical access, such as ceiling hoists, assistive and communication technologies, and emergency power solutions.
  • Robust – a home that needs good physical access, as well as extra safety features like retreat areas for participants and staff, and impact resistant materials.

The SDA application process will determine which category of home is right for you based on your support needs and treatment goals. Once the category is determined, Maple Community Services can help you source a place that meets your needs.

What is the Difference Between SDA and SIL?

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) is a type of accommodation provided for people living with a disability that causes high-level functional impairment or highly complex needs that require specialist housing alternatives. On the other hand, Supporting Independent Living (SIL) is the support, assistance, or supervision that a person living with disabilities receives to build their skills for daily tasks, enabling them to live more independently. A person living in specialist disability accommodation can also have SIL services.

What is an SDA Housing Assessment?

An SDA assessment is one of the basic requirements needed to apply for SDA and involves an extensive evaluation of your current and future needs. It then provides a recommendation to NDIS, demonstrating your eligibility for SDA and the specific features required for independent and safe living. 

During this commonly lengthy  process, it is important to lean on your Support Coordinator, your NDIS Planner, your SDA provider, and your Health Support Team such as your GP or your Occupational Therapist. If you are thinking about or in the process of applying for SDA and require further information, please feel free to reach out to Maple Community Services for more information.