The thought of going through the steps required to get Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) approved in your NDIS plan can be daunting at first. And the reality is that the process will be more difficult for some people than others. But know that the outcome of moving into a home that is accessible and suitable for you will be worth it! I have successfully navigated the journey to get SDA in my NDIS plan – so I hope my experience can be useful and encouraging for you.
Before you consider if you want to go down the path of trying to get SDA approved in your plan, do your research and talk to other people about it. I was fortunate to know a few interstate friends with similar disabilities who were already living in SDA apartments. I was able to use these connections to find out more about SDA and find out if it would be something that I’d be interested in exploring.
I also researched and read all that I could about SDA. In particular, I used resources published through the Housing Hub and the Summer Foundation to confirm my decision that SDA was something I wanted to explore!
The next step was getting a housing goal added to my NDIS plan. I was very fortunate to have my annual NDIS review only a month away – so it was perfect timing! During my NDIS plan review, I told my NDIA planner that I wanted to add a housing goal and that I would require supports to allow me to explore the possibility of SDA. Because I wanted to be certain that I had the correct funding in my plan, I also specified that I would require support coordination and extra OT hours to develop my SDA application. Even if you think the NDIS should know what they are doing – I highly recommend covering all bases and being super explicit in what your needs and requirements are!
My new NDIS plan took a while to be approved, but two months later I had the required support coordination and OT funding to start my SDA application. For me, I started by engaging my regular OT to write my SDA Functional Capacity Assessment. But they had no prior experience of writing SDA reports, and this showed in the drafts of their assessment reports. I knew I wanted to get this process correct from the start, so I got a different OT on board who had a very good reputation for SDA report writing. From the moment I met them and read the first draft of their reports, I knew they were the right person for the job! For that reason, I would highly recommend getting people in your corner from the start who are familiar with SDA to make sure the process runs as smoothly as possible.
In the meantime, I had also engaged a support coordinator who specialised in writing SDA Housing Plans. My support coordinator compiled all the information required for my SDA application, including information from my SDA Functional Capacity Assessment and my participant statement, in order to show the NDIA that SDA was the most appropriate support to meet my needs and assist me to reach my goals. They then submitted my SDA application to the SDA panel and it was time to wait for a decision!
The wait turned into a long one for me due to an unrelated issue. But six months after starting the process I was approved for SDA at the correct level! I was super excited and relieved to finally have SDA in my NDIS plan.
SDA is an amazing opportunity for people like me who have an extreme functional impairment or very high support needs, enabling us to achieve independence and suitable housing which we never thought possible in the past.
The journey to apply for SDA will be worth it in the end!
Rebecca has worked as a Lived Experience Associate in the Summer Foundation’s Housing Hub team since February 2021. She brings her experience of currently having SDA funding in her NDIS plan and is currently seeking a High Physical Support apartment in the Perth CBD. Rebecca is studying a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) and will graduate from Curtin University at the end of 2021.
Rebecca is passionate about advocating for people with disabilities and ensuring they have access to the information they need to live their best life, particularly regarding housing and the NDIS.
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