Individualised living: Beyond SDA, ILO and SIL

A young man in a wheelchair with his support worker.

What does home mean to you?

Is it a place where…

  • You can express yourself freely
  • You are comfortable and safe
  • You feel a sense of belonging and control
  • You nurture your most treasured relationships
  • Or all of the above?

For many people with disability in Australia, this question and the possibility of what home can be, remains unanswered to a large extent. The thinking behind this question, instead, turns to other things. For example, there’s been a long history of thinking in terms of placements and vacancies that can be hard to change.

Additionally, when people need different kinds of support to create their version of home, the way those supports get delivered and who can access them becomes very important. A person who doesn’t have access to affordable, secure and accessible housing may experience other negative things like poor health and difficulty with getting and keeping a job. We know that the greater a person’s support needs are, the more likely they are to live in supported accommodation.

The result is that services, systems and funding around housing options can often 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 following section discusses the NDIS home and living funding options. Understanding them helps you to take the next steps to achieve a home that is right for you.

NDIS home and living options

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is Australia’s national disability scheme designed to provide people with disability, who meet the eligibility criteria, the support and services they need to live and enjoy their life. The NDIS is overseen by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

Within the NDIS, there are three commonly known funding options for home and living: Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), Supported Independent Living (SIL) and Individualised Living Options (ILO).

It’s important to note that currently, the NDIA is reviewing what is happening in home and living. The NDIA has finalised a consultation process and is now looking at co-designing their new policy.

Differences between SDA, SIL and ILO

The NDIS is a disability support scheme, so it is built on the basis that most NDIS participants will need to work out their housing as other Australians do — private rental, affordable housing, social housing or home ownership. However, it does also recognise that some NDIS participants may need support with the bricks and mortar (i.e. the place in which they will live.). These participants may be eligible for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA).

SDA recognises that the impact of many people’s disabilities means that they need specially designed features in their home in order to live more independently. It recognises that this will be virtually impossible to find in private or social housing, and that the NDIS should support the development of such highly accessible and specialised housing. We know that without it, people can end up living in places like nursing homes, being stuck in hospitals or finding themselves being moved around a lot of unsuitable homes.

Many NDIS participants also need support to live well and safely in their home. This is where Supported Independent Living (SIL) and Individualised Living Options (ILO) come in. SIL involves engaging paid support workers for people who need high levels of support at home all the time. According to the NDIS, this means you might need a significant amount of help throughout the day, 7 days a week. This could include overnight support and can include help with daily tasks, like personal care or cooking meals.

A common arrangement involves two to four people living in the same home with support workers always available. This is also known as shared supported accommodation or a group home. What is also common is that a SIL Provider offers a home as well. This means either the house is SDA or the SIL Provider owns or rents a property that is not SDA. They offer a head lease or they sublet to NDIS participants. The agreement might be built around the NDIS participant purchasing SIL supports from the organisation.

There’s a few things to think through with SIL funding and this library will be updated with more information about this.

ILO, like SIL, is about the supports you need to live in your home. It is a way for eligible NDIS participants to explore different ways of living other than shared supported accommodation or a group home. In Stage 1, funding is provided to help you work out what is going to work for you and how much that is going to cost. Stage 2 is about putting that plan into action.

This might involve living with supportive housemates or with a couple of friends who are also NDIS participants, or moving into someone else’s home. The NDIS has given these arrangements names such as ‘co-residency’ and ‘host arrangement’.

Typically, you will need to figure out the housing that you need — private rental, a home you or someone else owns or social housing. While the NDIS can’t fund the cost of the home such as rent or mortgage, it may be able to help you search, find, apply for and organise the house you will live in.

A key supporter (like a parent or advocate), a Support Coordinator and an ILO Provider are the types of people involved in this process.

Beyond SDA, ILO and SIL: Individualised living

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.

There are many people with disability who have achieved a home that is right for them. They have worked through barriers, and shaped supports and funding to make it work. What they show is that you don’t only have to live with others with disability or live alone and be vulnerable to loneliness and isolation.

They show that you can:

  • 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.

Collectively, we will call these ‘individualised living’.

Individualised living

People with disability, families and their supporters who have been successful in creating individualised living arrangements start by asking the following question early on: What is going to be my version of home?

This involves:

  • Designing with and for the person with disability

Going through a process together in which you explore your needs and wants and the barriers you have faced or think you might face in creating your own home. This is the foundation for working out what the solutions might be, and what resources would be needed to make it happen.

  • Having a strong sense of what ‘good’ looks like

This is important because many people with disability haven’t experienced genuine choice and control, and so, it can be very difficult to know or to say what might or might not work.

What are some examples of people creating their version of home and using NDIS funding?

Paul lives with a supportive housemate. Sherlyn is living with Serena in Serena’s home. Anna is living with friends and using SIL funding. Lisa moved out of a nursing home into her own SDA apartment.

This document by the Independent Advisory Council to the NDIS, is a great resource, particularly Appendices 7-11, which list out the Reasonable and Necessary Support for persons with disability across all ages.

In the next few articles, you can explore:

We will continue to expand this resource with the practical ideas, tools and processes people have used to create a home of their own.

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. Read his story.