Specialist Disability Accommodation Operational Guideline - Deciding to include SDA in a participant’s plan

5. Deciding to include SDA in a participant's plan

Before including SDA in a participant’s plan, the NDIA must:

See also, what assistance or other supports will be considered when SDA is not included in a participant’s plan?

5.1 NDIA’s policy on SDA

Because of the nature of SDA and the dwelling stock used for SDA, the NDIA’s policy on SDA is described as a number of SDA considerations.

In applying the NDIS Act and the Supports for Participants Rules, it is most likely that the NDIA will include SDA in a plan when:

5.1.1 Extreme or complete functional impairment due to disability that requires an SDA response

A participant has an extreme or complete functional impairment due to disability if:

  • the impairment results in an extremely or completely reduced functional capacity of the participant to undertake one or more of the activities of mobility, self-care or self-management; and
  • the participant is only able in a limited capacity, or is unable, to undertake the activity even with assistive technology, equipment or home modifications.

A participant will have an extreme or complete functional impairment requiring an SDA response if, when compared to other supports alone, combined SDA and other supports:

  • would be likely to better assist the participant to pursue the goals, objectives and aspirations in the participant’s statement of goals and aspirations;
  • would be likely to be more effective and beneficial for the participant, having regard to current good practice, including, because of the extent to which it would, where possible:
    1. mitigate or alleviate the impact of the participant’s impairment upon the functional capacity of the participant to undertake one or more of the activities of mobility, self-care or self-management;
    2. prevent the deterioration of such functional capacity;
    3. improve such functional capacity;
    4. maintain or promote (rather than inhibit) the participant’s ability to build capacity, including in the medium or long term; or
    5. maintain or enhance (rather than limit) the participant’s opportunities to develop skills;
  • would represent better value for money; and
  • would promote stability and continuity of supports, particularly for participants already residing in SDA.

5.1.2 Very high support needs (including housing needs) most appropriately met by an SDA response

A participant has very high support needs (including housing needs) if:

  • the participant has previously lived in SDA or SDA like accommodation for extended periods, and this has impacted the capacity of the participant to transition to alternative living arrangements and supports; or
  • the participant has a very high level need for constant or immediately available support services for a significant part of the day; and
  • there are limitations in the availability, capacity, capability or sustainability of the participant’s informal support network, or there are substantial risks to the sustainability of current informal support arrangements; or
  • the participant is at risk or poses a risk to others, and that risk could be mitigated by the provision of SDA, having particular regard to the participant’s response to risk and the interaction of the participant with the environment.

A participant will have very high support needs (including housing needs) most appropriately met by an SDA response if, when compared to other supports alone, combined SDA and other supports:

  • would be likely to better assist the participant to pursue the goals, objectives and aspirations in the participant’s statement of goals and aspirations;
  • would be likely to be more effective and beneficial, having regard to current best practice, because of the extent to which it would, where possible:
    1. reduce the participant’s future need for supports which might be required due to inappropriate accommodation;
    2. assist the participant to pursue goals related to life opportunities and life transitions;
    3. mitigate or alleviate the impact of the participant’s impairment upon the functional capacity of the participant to undertake one or more of the activities of mobility, self-care or self-management;
    4. prevent the deterioration of such functional capacity;
    5. improve such functional capacity;
    6. maintain or promote (rather than inhibit) the participant's ability to build capacity, including in the medium or long term; or
    7. maintain or enhance (rather than limit) the participant’s opportunities to develop skills; and
  • would represent better value for money, having regard to:
    1. whether combined SDA and other supports would be likely to substantially improve the life stage outcomes for, and be of long-term benefit to, the participant; and
    2. the cost of providing the participant with supports needed to allow the participant to live in the community, taking into account whether those supports may be shared with few or no other participants and the limitations of the participant’s informal support network.

5.1.3 Has consideration been given to suitable alternative supports and pathways?

When the inclusion of SDA in a participant’s plan is under consideration, the NDIA will, before SDA is included in a plan, consider suitable alternative supports and pathways.

This includes:

  • considering the extent to which alternative suitable supports and pathways have been attempted and their success;
  • considering whether capacity building supports should be funded (see below);
  • sustaining informal supports, developing informal supports, or funding additional supports within the home;
  • home modifications, assistive technologies and other suitable alternative supports to SDA for a participant;
  • support coordination, life transition planning, assistance with daily living and other such supports; or
  • funded supports, such as support co-ordination, to explore the availability and viability of suitable alternative supports and pathways.

When the inclusion of SDA in a participant’s plan is under consideration, the NDIA will also consider whether capacity building supports should be funded for the participant for a period of time before SDA is funded for the participant.

This may be particularly relevant when capacity building would:

  • enhance the opportunity for a move to accommodation other than SDA, or to SDA at a reduced level, in particular if intensive capacity building supports were to be funded for the participant during a transition period (for example, while a participant continues to live with their parents);
  • be likely to be more effective and beneficial for the participant, having regard to current good practice; and
  • better enhance the participant’s skill development, in particular their independent living skills.

5.2 Rent is not to be funded contrary to the NDIS Rules

The general criteria for supports provide, amongst other matters, that a support will not be provided or funded if the support relates to day-to-day living costs, that are not attributable to a participant’s disability support needs (rule 5.1(d) of the Supports for Participants Rules).

Therefore, rent will not be funded if it relates to day-to-day living costs that are not attributable to a participant’s disability support needs.

Day-to-day living costs do not include the following (which may be funded under the NDIS if they relate to reasonable and necessary supports:

  • additional living costs that are incurred by a participant solely and directly as a result of their disability support needs (rule 5.2(a) of the Supports for Participants Rules); or
  • costs that are ancillary to another support that is funded or provided under the participant’s plan, and which the participant would not otherwise incur, for example additional utility costs incurred by a participant due to operating an assistive technology device (rule 5.2(b) of the Supports for Participants Rules).

5.3 Is the SDA support most appropriately funded or provided through the NDIS?

Before any support is added to a participant’s plan, the NDIA must also be satisfied that the support is most appropriately funded or provided through the NDIS, and is not more appropriately funded or provided through other general systems of service delivery or support services offered by a person, agency or body, or systems of service delivery or support services offered:

  • as part of a universal service obligation; or
  • in accordance with reasonable adjustments required under a law dealing with discrimination on the basis of disability (section 34(1)(f)).

See is the support most appropriately funded or provided through the NDIS?. In particular, housing and community infrastructure.

See also Appendix 1.

5.4 Other considerations applicable to including SDA in a participants plan?

When the inclusion of SDA in a participant’s plan is under consideration, the NDIA will also consider:

5.4.1 The principle of “no disadvantage”

Governments have made a commitment through the Intergovernmental Agreement for the NDIS that people receiving supports before becoming participants in the NDIS should:

  • not be disadvantaged by the transition to the NDIS; and
  • be able to achieve at least the same outcomes (i.e. achieve at least the same level of social or economic participation or maintain the ability to undertake the same range of activities) in the NDIS as compared to those expected to be achieved by their previously provided support.

This commitment made by Government is referred to as the principle of ‘no disadvantage’.

The NDIA is not a party to the Intergovernmental Agreement and the principle of no disadvantage is not a specific obligation imposed on the NDIA under the NDIS Act.

Notwithstanding, when performing its functions the NDIA must use its best endeavors to act in accordance with any relevant intergovernmental agreements (section 118(2)(a)).

The principal of no disadvantage does not mean that a participant will always have the same level of funding, types of support or amount of support.

Rather, the principal of no disadvantage refers to a participant’s overall package of supports under the NDIS rather than a continuing entitlement to every form of support received before the NDIS commenced.

For example, a participant who had previously received accommodation supports could have a plan without SDA but with suitable alternative supports, or with SDA and a combination of other supports.

5.4.2 Participants transitioning with existing supports

The NDIA will need to consider the context for participants who have existing supports and how these participants will transition smoothly to any new supports funded by the NDIS.

Understandably, participants who were previously receiving SDA like supports under a Commonwealth, state or territory disability program may not wish to vary their existing supports. The NDIA will be considerate of the importance that supports can play in a participant’s life and the challenges associated with varying existing support arrangements (see also participants already residing in SDA).

However, any support previously received can only be added to a statement of participant supports under the NDIS where the NDIA is satisfied that each specific criteria in the NDIS Act and Supports for Participants Rules for including any general or reasonable and necessary support in a participant’s plan is met.

If a participant’s existing supports are included in their statement of participant supports, the NDIA will also need to consider whether the support needs of the participant are likely to change and whether a different constitution of supports may be more appropriate under the NDIS over time.

For example, a different type of SDA or a plan without SDA but with suitable alternative supports.

To minimise any disruption to the participant, the NDIA will transition a participant to new supports or to a different composition of supports over the course of several NDIS plans or at other appropriate transition points.

Where the NDIA does not fund a support that a participant previously received, the NDIA will seek to identify appropriate alternative supports or refer the participant to other service delivery systems to ensure the participant is able to achieve the same outcomes as before.

5.5 What assistance or other supports will be considered when SDA support is not included in a participant’s plan?

As the NDIA’s policy on SDA indicates, SDA is only for a small group of participants.

SDA is intended to be a specialist solution for participants with a very high need for constant or immediately available supports, and/or those with extreme or complete functional impairment in a core area (self-care, mobility or self-management) where key activity limitations remain even following the use of assistive technologies, home modifications or capacity building supports.

For almost all participants, SDA will not be included in their plan, and for a number of participants, SDA may have been carefully considered and not be included in their plan.

When SDA is not included in a plan the NDIA, where appropriate, will consider whether other supports are required to assist the participant.

Those supports could include:

  • support coordination;
  • life transition planning;
  • capacity building;
  • home modifications;
  • assistive technologies;
  • sustaining informal supports (such as short-term accommodation and assistance, or supports in the home);
  • assistance with daily living;
  • supported independent living; or
  • other appropriate supports.

There will be a small number of participants where SDA is not included in their current plan, but where SDA is a suitable option for consideration in a later plan. For these participants, a number of support options can be considered to assist the participant to:

  • assess suitable alternative supports and pathways to SDA;
  • clarify the need for SDA, or the appropriate SDA type and location, including structured evidence-based assessments where required;
  • ascertain the availability of the appropriate SDA type in the appropriate location, including consideration of the proposed support model, the other residents and household routines;
  • where the appropriate SDA type or location for the participant is unavailable - consider other SDA types or locations or other suitable alternative supports; or
  • negotiate, enter into or manage an agreement with a registered provider in relation to SDA or moving into a dwelling.
This page current as of
18 July 2019