When someone has a disability, they must adapt their home considerably. Everything needs to change, from the bathroom to the stairwell.
Unfortunately, converting a conventional home isn’t always an option. Some people living with disabilities don’t own their own houses. And, for others, there may be practical issues, such as the layout and design. That’s where high physical support Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) can help. These homes provide all the support a person living with disabilities needs to live with freedom and dignity.
How you choose to arrange your SDA is up to you. You can either use Cooperative Family Government Models (CFGM) or use a supported independent living (SIL) approach with the help of a trainer.
What is a high physical support SDA home?
A high physical support SDA home fulfils all of the NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation design standards. These include modifications to pedestrian entries, car parking considerations, windows, sanitary facilities, kitchens, laundry rooms, bedrooms, living areas, floors and slip-resistant surfaces, internal stairways, lifts and other assistive technology. All habitable areas of the home should have entrances that are at least 950mm wide, there should be heating and cooling on the property, and inhabitants must have easy-to-use communication facilities to request help. (The full list of specifications is extensive, so for brevity’s sake, we won’t list it here).
Critically, though, the NDIS specifications are not exact (as they are in building regulations). Because of this, both clients and builders have some flexibility in the design, layout and technologies to include. It also means that the quality of the final product can vary significantly from builder to builder.
What you need to consider to transform your home into high physical support specialist disability accommodation
Planning an SDA home for high physical support requires extensive planning.
First, you’ll want to ensure that you’re eligible for SDA via your current NDIS plan. Usually, the plan will specify whether you qualify for support or not. If your plan does not mention SDA, contact your NDIS representative.
Next, you’ll want to approach an organisation that specialises in constructing SDA homes. You should tell them your specifications and secure a suitable plot of land. They will then take care of the rest of the process for you. All you have to do is wait for them to finish work and then pick up the keys.
According to the NDIS, the ‘SDA helps to stimulate the market to produce high quality, contemporary, accessible, well-designed housing for participants with SDA funding on their plan.’ This funding goes directly to SDA home builders who then build and maintain the property. All beneficiaries have to do is pay rent and day-to-day living costs to remain living in the property.
Why you need a high physical support sda home
There are many reasons why someone living with disabilities and their carers need an SDA home.
For instance, people living with extreme functional impairment require SDA dwelling to support their basic living needs. Conventional housing simply doesn’t provide them with the facilities they require to live their lives in a rich and fulfilling manner.
The NDIS is strict about the type of dwellings that qualify as specialist disability accommodations. Builders must attain various minimum standards for a house to qualify under the scheme. They must include numerous items that improve access and mobility. And they also need to accommodate home support services and implement solutions that let them provide more effective services.
SDA high physical support homes are also necessary for another reason: they improve the quality of life for people living with disabilities. Getting around and performing normal life tasks can be challenging for someone living with disabilities in a regular home. Things like climbing the stairs, cooking in the kitchen, using hoists or getting to the bathroom can be difficult. But with SDA, all these tasks become significantly easier. A person with high physical support needs can move around more easily and gain a degree of independence that they didn’t have before.
It’s also incredibly affordable if you meet SDA needs requirements and NDIS funding criteria. The NDIS will pay for the construction of the property, leaving beneficiaries with only bills and rent to pay. These fees are typically fair and small and reflect clients’ living allowances.
Lastly, with an SDA home, people living with disabilities can get something tailored to their needs and preferences. According to NDIS rules, SDA designs must improve livability, be fully accessible, be “robust”, and offer high physical support. Participants should have access to high-quality housing models that meet their needs. Therefore, builders cannot provide cheap, generic housing that fails to take into account the disabled person’s requirements.
In practice, NDIS-authorised SDA builders must operate flexibly, and continually listen to their clients’ concerns. They must consult with their clients, listening carefully specifically to their high physical support needs and how they can implement them. No two designs should be the same.
Builders and architects must also work together to achieve this goal. According to the NDIS, they must provide information about how new housing for people with disabilities should be built. Any design should come with the approval of an independent SDA assessor to protect future inhabitants from unprofessional or incomplete work.
Who should you work with?
If you are considering constructing an SDA home, it is critical to work with a trusted partner – a team that can deliver a property that meets your high physical support requirements. Only work with NDIS-approved contractors.
Please note that the NDIS Design Standards are not technical specifications. Instead. ‘SDA assessors should interpret [them] to the best of their professional ability.’ Because of this, it’s critical to work with the right contractors. Some may work to the letter of the specifications, but not their spirit, leaving you with substandard results.
Alicia Saville did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.