A home, for anyone, is a place where you can freely express yourself, feel safe and comfortable, and live life on your own terms with who you want.
For many people with disability in Australia, this question of what a home can be remains unanswered to a large extent. Instead, what a home can be becomes a question of placements and vacancies, and not about people’s needs and wants.
More often than not, systems and funding around housing options can lead to conflict for the person: between what they desire and what ‘appears realistic’ or what they should only expect to be able to get.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides three commonly known funding options for home and living: Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), Supported Independent Living (SIL) and Individualised Living Options (ILO).
However, getting a home that’s right for you is about more than any one type of funding. Funding is very important to achieve what you want, but it is just part of the solution.
That’s where individualised living comes in.
Individualised living: Beyond SDA, ILO and SIL
There are many people with disability who have managed to push through barriers and shaped supports and funding to achieve a home that’s right for them. They’ve shown that there are other ways to live independently, aside from having to live with others with disability or living alone.
Through individualised living, it’s possible to:
- Live on your own, safely and well
- Live with people with whom you have an existing relationship
- Live with someone new in your life like a supportive housemate
- Move into someone else’s home.
The process of individualised living involves designing with and for the person with disability and having a strong sense of what a ‘good’ home looks like. Take for instance, Paul, who lives with a supportive housemate, or Sherlyn, who lives with Serena in Serena’s home.
Starting your independent living journey
Now that you’re thinking about living independently, the next step is to think about what ‘home’ for you might look like.
A good starting point is to think about what your current home looks like and how you are supported at the moment. This might include determining:
- If your current home is safe for you
- If you current home is accessible for you
- Can you get the support you want in your current home?
- Does your home allow you to live how you want?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start thinking about what your future home should look like. This should include taking into account your needs and lifestyle right now and in the near future. Talking about these things with people you know and trust can help too. Then you will be better placed to work out what sort of home – and what sort of support arrangements – will best suit those goals.
When considering your new home, it’s important to think about things such as:
- Where you want to live (close to family, in the city, near a shopping centre, etc.)
- Who you want to live with (on your own, with a friend, etc.)
- What do you want your home to be like? (do you want lots of storage, a study, a balcony, etc.)
Once you’ve determined your current home versus your future home, it’s important to think about the supports you may need in your future home. Consider things like how much support you need, what supports do you want to continue in your new home, who can help you work out the costs of living in your new home, etc.
And as with any big plan, always plan for things that could go wrong. Having support and anticipating challenges — whether it’s not having the right funding in your NDIS plan or lack of transport that is accessible to you in the area in which you want to live — will make your journey to independent living smoother.
Planning your move to independent living
Now that you’ve thought about what your new home might look like, it’s important to plan how you will live there and what support you need to live well, safely and comfortably.
Changing where you live can, for some, mean changes to the way you’re supported. To understand this, consider making a schedule of supports. This is where you can list all the things you do in a day (and the time you do them) that you need support with — right from the moment you wake up to the moment you sleep.
To make sure you have everything on this list, it’s a good idea to run it past the people who support you at the moment – your support workers, family members or anyone else you spend time with.
Creating a schedule of supports will give you an idea of what support you need in your new home and when. There may also be things you want to learn to be able to do yourself, which the NDIS calls capacity building.
Through your NDIS funding, you can connect with independent support workers on Mable, to build a support team and support you in transitioning to your new home, and then supporting you in your new home.
Learn more about how to plan your move to independent living.
We hope this guide has been useful in getting you to think about how you can start your journey to independent living. We’ll continue to add more resoues to support you to achieve the home you want.
We know that understanding NDIS home and living options can be very challenging. We’d like to invite you to join the Mable Home + Living Community. This is a moderated and safe space to learn from and share with others who have navigated these very important processes.
About the author
Libby is the Individualised Living Program Manager at Mable. Libby has worked with people with disability and their families to create individualised living arrangements before and since the NDIS. Libby’s brother moved out of a group home and has lived in his own home since the mid 1990s. He has lived with a range of supportive housemates. You can read his story here.