SDA with on-site shared support

Sep 13 / Policy Team

Specialist disability accommodation (SDA) is accommodation funded through the NDIS for long-term, accessible housing for participants with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs.

One option for people who are able to live alone is SDA with on-site shared support. On-site shared support is a system of support for SDA tenants combining individual planned support and support that is provided by staff located on-site and shared by tenants who need this service.

As a support coordinator or allied health professional, it is important to understand all housing and support options that the participant you’re supporting may want to explore. If the person you’re supporting is able to live alone, can spend some time without supports and is looking for a model that supports independence and flexibility, they may consider living in co-located SDA with on-site shared support (OSS).

This integrated model of co-located SDA apartments was developed to enable people with high support needs to live in their own apartment but be co-located with others (for example in an apartment building). It enables a more cost-effective provision of support because tenants commonly use a combination of individual planned support, which is organised by each tenant with their preferred provider, and on-site shared support that is available by staff located in the building and shared by tenants who need this service.

On-site shared support can provide for ad hoc or unplanned needs (such as help retrieving items not within reach) or for planned needs (such as help getting into bed). There is no list of supports that can or cannot be provided by OSS – this should be negotiated between the tenant and OSS provider according to the tenant’s needs and provider capacity. The key is that these support arrangements are individualised and flexible, unlike support provided in group homes or aged care. The Housing Hub provides more information on how support can work within SDA.

Benefits of on-site shared support

Recent research by the Summer Foundation has demonstrated the significant benefits of SDA with shared on-site support to tenants, providers and the NDIS.* Tenants highlight the benefits of living alone with shared on-site support, including privacy, autonomy and more choice and control over their space and time than in other settings.** You can read more on this research here.

Providing support evidence

If the participant you are supporting decides this model is right for them,  quality evidence and reports will need to be provided to the NDIA to support their application. This evidence should address the functional capacity needs of the individual, why living alone in co-located SDA with OSS is the best option for them, how they will build their capacity and skills if they have not lived alone before, and why other housing options would not be appropriate for them. The Summer Foundation has developed a number of resources to support this process, including a guide on NDIS and Mainstream Housing Pathways and a guide on Allied Health Housing Assessments.

The NDIA recently released new SDA Operational Guidelines (OG), which includes criteria for living alone with OSS. These new guidelines provide criteria for participants to consider if they want to live in a model such as this. The Summer Foundation released a statement on the new SDA OG that can be read here.

* Jacinta Douglas, Dianne Winkler, Stacey Oliver, Stephanie Liddicoat & Kate D’Cruz (2022) Moving into new housing designed for people with disability: preliminary evaluation of outcomes, Disability and Rehabilitation
** Summer Foundation, 2022. On-site shared support in Specialist Disability Accommodation Discussion paper
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