Specialist Disability Accommodation Operational Guideline - Describing SDA in a participant’s plan

6. Describing SDA in a participant's plan

On 1 June 2016, the NDIA issued the Specialist Disability Accommodation Decision Paper on Pricing and Payments. The Decision Paper sets out the approach taken by the NDIA in relation to SDA including:

  • SDA Benchmark prices and the approach to pricing SDA supports;
  • the description of dwellings used for SDA, including classifying the dwelling stock as ‘new’, ‘existing’, or ‘legacy’;
  • the identification of Design Categories and Buildings Types within the SDA dwelling stock; and
  • location factors to be used in SDA pricing.

6.1 How will the NDIA describe SDA supports in a participant’s plan?

The NDIA has a high degree of flexibility around how to describe supports in a participant’s plan. The supports that will be funded or provided under the NDIS may be:

  • described generally, by reference to a specified purpose or otherwise; or
  • specifically identified (section 33(3)).

SDA supports will usually be described specifically by reference to the SDA Type (Design Categories and Buildings Types) and the SDA Location. Supports which are specifically identified (i.e. stated) in a participant’s plan cannot be swapped for other supports.

For further guidance on describing supports generally or specifically please refer to describing supports in a participant’s plan.

6.2 Specifying SDA providers in participant plans

Where specific SDA is being funded for a participant, to ensure continuity and stability, the NDIA may also decide to describe SDA by reference to a participant’s existing SDA provider (i.e. the participant’s plan will specify that SDA will be provided by the current SDA provider).

A participant’s plan can specify, in some circumstances, the provider from whom a support will be provided (see describing supports in a participant’s plan). This can occur when:

  • supports are most cost-effectively provided by the NDIA (rule 6.5 of the Plan Management Rules);
  • supports that are most efficiently and effectively provided by a specific provider (rule 6.6 of the Plan Management Rules);
  • supports that are most efficiently and effectively provided by a particular person or delivery mode (rule 6.7 of the Plan Management Rules); and
  • supports previously provided by the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory (rule 6.8 of the Plan Management Rules).

In addition to the circumstances when a participant’s plan will specify the provider from whom a support will be provided, there are also circumstances when the NDIA will manage the funding in a participant’s plan because there is an unreasonable risk to the participant (see managing the funding for supports under a participant’s plan).

6.3 Determining the SDA type and location

Once a decision is made to include SDA in a participant’s plan, the NDIA will consider the appropriate SDA type (design category and building type) and location for the participant and, where necessary, an alternative interim solution.

6.3.1 What are the steps involved in determining the SDA type and location?

The NDIA will determine the appropriate SDA type (design category and building type) and location for the participant using the four step process outlined below.

The considerations in these steps are to be considered in the context of the participant’s overall package of supports.

Step 1
  • Consider whether a dwelling of the appropriate SDA type (design category and building type), and in the appropriate location, is available to the participant.

    Note, a dwelling of an appropriate SDA type and location will be ‘available’ where there is a dwelling vacancy and both the participant and the provider agree to the participant being placed in that dwelling.
  • At the time of determining the SDA type and location, if the NDIA is aware that an appropriate dwelling is available to the participant, or will be available very soon, the appropriate SDA type and location is to be included in the participant’s plan.
  • If:
    1. it is not clear at the time of determining the SDA type and location whether a dwelling is, or will very soon be, available to the participant, or if it is known that such a dwelling is not (and will not very soon be) available to the participant; and
    2. alternative interim options have not yet been identified (and could not quickly be identified);

    support coordination or similar supports may be considered for inclusion in the participant’s plan. These supports may be provided to assist the participant in ascertaining the availability of dwellings of the appropriate SDA type and location for the participant or in identifying alternative interim options.

    The plan should also specify the appropriate SDA type and location determined so that if a dwelling of that type, and in that location, becomes available to the participant, it can be funded for the participant without the need for a plan review.

    The plan should also specify a date by which, or circumstance in which, a plan review will be undertaken, for example once alternative interim options have been identified (see setting the plan review date).

  • An alternative interim option is an option (which may involve SDA or other supports or both) which:
    1. would be likely to be acceptable in meeting the needs of the participant on an interim basis (which may, in some cases, be an extended period of time depending on the availability of dwellings of the appropriate SDA type in the appropriate location for the participant); and
    2. in the case of alternative options involving SDA, are available to the participant, in the sense that there is a dwelling or vacancy and both the provider and the participant are agreeable to the participant being placed in the dwelling.
Step 2
  • If a dwelling of the appropriate SDA type and location determined for the participant is not available, and alternative interim options have been identified, assess the reference cost of a dwelling of the appropriate SDA type and location determined for the participant.
  • Note, the reference cost is the maximum amount that might have been funded for the participant on the basis of the appropriate SDA type and location determined for the participant.
Step 3
  • Once the reference cost has been assessed, determine an alternative interim option for the participant. This alternative interim option is to be included in the participant’s plan.
  • The plan should also specify the appropriate SDA type and location determined for the participant so that, if a dwelling of that type and in that location becomes available to the participant, it can be funded for the participant without the need for a plan review.
  • The plan should also include a date by which, or circumstances in which, it is to be reviewed (see setting the plan review date). The alternative interim option determined under this Step must be reconsidered at the next plan review.
Step 4

6.3.2 Determining the SDA design category

There are five SDA design categories that will be used by the NDIA when making plan decisions:

  • basic design, which refers to housing without specialist design features but with other important SDA characteristics, for example relating to location, privacy or shared supports;

  • improved liveability design, which refers to housing that has been designed to improve ‘liveability’ by incorporating a reasonable level of physical access and enhanced provision for people with sensory, intellectual or cognitive impairment;
  • fully accessible design, which refers to housing that has been designed to incorporate a high level of physical access provision for people with significant physical impairment;
  • robust construction design, which refers to housing that has been designed to incorporate a high level of physical access provision and to be very resilient, reducing the likelihood of reactive maintenance and reducing the risk to the participant and the community; and
  • high physical support design, which refers to housing that has been designed to incorporate a high level of physical access provision for people with significant physical impairment and requiring very high levels of support.

The appropriate design category for a participant is to be determined out of the categories above by considering the participant’s specific needs.

The basic design category may be determined as an alternative interim option.

In addition, the basic design category may be appropriate for participants who were already residing in this type of SDA before the appropriate SDA type and location was determined for them and who wish to continue to reside there for a period of time (see participants already residing in SDA).

6.3.3 Determining the SDA building type

The NDIA separates SDA dwelling stock into five SDA building types when making plan decisions:

  • apartment (Building Code of Australia Class 2);
  • duplex, villa, townhouse (including small properties that are not attached but which are located on the same parcel of land as other properties, such as standalone villas or ‘granny flats’) (Building Code of Australia Class 1(a)(i) or (ii));
  • house (Building Code of Australia Class 1(a)(i), Class 1(b)(i) or Class 3);
  • group home capable of accommodating four or five residents (Building Code of Australia Class 1(b)(i) or Class 3); and
  • legacy stock accommodating six or more residents.

The NDIA will not provide SDA Benchmark Price payments for any new build with more than five residents, but recognises the importance of funding housing for participants that choose to stay in their current form of accommodation, or for whom there is no supply of smaller form accommodation currently available. The NDIA understands that most of the larger residential centres will be phased out over the next few years.

Legacy stock may be included in a participant’s plan as an alternative interim option.

The appropriate building type for a participant will be determined by applying the NDIS Act and the Supports for Participants Rules, in particular, choosing the type that delivers the most benefit to the participant at the least cost, having regard.

  • the features of the building type;
  • the support model that is most appropriate for the participant;
  • the participant’s support needs;
  • the participant’s preferences, if those preferences are established and align with the participant’s statement of goals and aspirations;
  • whether the building type would represent value for money in that the costs would be reasonable, relative to both the benefits achieved and the cost of alternative support;
  • the extent to which the building type would:
    1. facilitate social and economic participation, in particular how the building type would impact on:
      • the participant’s ability to engage in the life of the household and community; and
      • the dynamics of the household, having regard in particular to the participant’s ability to share with others and build relationships;
    2. facilitate past, established or planned connections or the continuation of existing connections, in particular of culture or community;
    3. increase, reduce or mitigate the risks to the participant and others, having particular regard to the participant’s response to risk and the interaction of the participant with the environment;
    4. improve life stage outcomes for, and be of long-term benefit to, the participant;
    5. impact on the participant’s capacity or capability, in particular, the extent to which a building type would:
      • alleviate the impact of the participant’s impairment on their daily functioning;
      • enhance the participant’s skill development, in particular independent living skills;
      • increase the benefit and effectiveness of supports other than SDA for the participant’s skill development, in particular independent living skills; and
      • enhance the opportunity for a move to independent living in the community, in particular through a transition period with intensive capacity building supports;
    6. facilitate or sustain informal supports, and the extent to which informal supports would reduce the cost of other supports;
    7. facilitate or hinder the provision of other supports required by the participant; and
    8. facilitate access to other support or specialist services required by the participant which are not funded or provided through the NDIS.

6.3.4 The appropriate support model

The most appropriate support model for the participant is considered having regard to their support needs.

For example:

  • if the participant requires responsive services nearby, but can be left alone for periods of time, the most appropriate support model may be concierge or mobile support; and
  • if the participant requires immediately responsive services between 16-24 hours per day, or cannot be left alone, the most appropriate support model may be shared onsite support.

The most appropriate support model itself is not considered as part of considering SDA supports, but is considered as part of the process of determining the overall supports for a participant in developing or reviewing their plan.

6.3.5 Determining the SDA location

The NDIA will determine the SDA location as a location within one or more Statistical Areas Level 4 or other specified location.

The appropriate SDA location for a participant will be determined by applying the NDIS Act and the Supports for Participants Rules, in particular, by choosing the location that delivers the most benefit to the participant at the least cost, having regard.

  • the features of the location, including the amenity;
  • where the participant lives now and the history of where the participant has lived, including any recent changes;
  • the extent to which the location would facilitate past, established or planned connections or the continuation of existing connections, in particular of culture or community;
  • the extent to which the location would be likely to better assist the participant to pursue the goals, objectives and aspirations in the participant’s statement of goals and aspirations;
  • the extent to which the location would be likely to facilitate social and economic participation, in particular how the location would impact on the participant’s ability to engage in the life of the household and community; and
  • whether the location would represent better value for money, having regard to the extent to which the location would:
    1. facilitate or sustain informal supports, and the extent to which informal supports would reduce the cost of other supports;
    2. facilitate or hinder the provision of other supports required by the participant;
    3. facilitate access to mainstream supports or specialist services required by the participant; and
    4. the participant’s preference, where that preference is established and aligns with the participant’s statement of goals and aspirations, and where the preference is important on the basis of the participant’s support needs and the matters referred to above.

6.3.6 Alternative interim options

An alternative interim option is to be considered, where necessary, out of the alternative interim options that have been identified, taking account of:

  • the reference cost of the appropriate SDA type and location determined for the participant as a basis for assessing its value for money;
  • when a dwelling of the most appropriate SDA type, and in the most appropriate location determined for the participant is likely to become available to the participant; and
  • the support needs and preferences of the participant.

6.3.7 Participants already residing in SDA

The NDIA will consider the importance of stability and continuity in accommodation for participants.

In applying the NDIS Act and the Supports for Participants Rules, the NDIA will give serious consideration to a participant remaining in their current SDA, as long as the dwelling meets the requirements to provide SDA under the NDIS, in particular if a participant is:

  • currently residing in an SDA dwelling that is not of the appropriate SDA type, or in the appropriate SDA location because:
  • the participant was residing in the dwelling before the determination was made as to the appropriate SDA type and location for the participant; or
    1. the dwelling was determined for the participant as, or as part of, an alternative interim option; and
    2. the participant wishes to continue to reside there for a period of time.

The participant’s plan should also specify the appropriate SDA type and location so that this can be funded for the participant without the need for a plan review should the participant move.

This page current as of
18 July 2019