I’m from MS Queensland and we’re an organisation that was established with a vision to see a world free of multiple sclerosis and its impacts. We provide a range of free and funded services to people with MS and have expanded into supporting people with other neurological conditions as well.
In particular, our accommodation branch supports people with high physical support needs, which is the category of Speciality Disability Accommodation (SDA) that Accessible Homes Australia (AHA) specialise in. We’re working with AHA to assist people with their housing journey — going from looking at accommodation options and expressing interest in one, all the way through to receiving an SDA outcome and potentially appealing.
Working out your SDA funding
The first step is to begin looking around at the different options in the community and starting to get an idea about: where you’d like to live; what kind of design category is right for you; whether you want to live with roommates or if single occupancy is more suited to your needs and your goals.
Then it’s about communicating that back to the people that support you with your National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) — that could be your support coordinator, informal supports — or directly with your local area coordinator or planner about wanting to explore this as an option. Doing this usually leads to a plan review, if you don’t already have a goal around exploring your housing options in your plan, to assist with giving you some funding for the supports that are needed to navigate this housing pathway.
Your SDA journey may take a while. You definitely don’t want to start looking at your SDA options if your need to move is tomorrow, for example, because there is a whole process that goes towards ensuring that SDA supports are given to the right people, that qualify for the right type of living category, and then of course connecting you into a different housing option, the moving process, all that can take a while.
We’re finding on average it’s about six to ten months from when you first express interest in the property, to ending up as a tenant in a property like AHA’s East Palm Beach or No. 1 Grant Avenue, Hope Island.
The key documents
There are two important documents that are going to assist with getting your SDA outcome. They will help you put forward the best information that you can to help the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) understand your care needs and your preferences for your living situation.
The first one is a relatively new form developed by the NDIA called the Home and Living Supports Request Form. This form is a bit of a catch-all for any sort of living situation or changes in living situation that you might be experiencing. It’s not exclusively for SDA, but SDA is certainly one of the solutions to a housing problem you may be experiencing that’s captured within this form.
It’s 19 pages long. You’re going to get it and it’s going to feel a little bit overwhelming at times. But of those 19 pages, only 14 are pages you need to fill out. Many of the questions are checkboxes, rather than requiring you to put extensive amounts of information in. It’s a good form with a lot of good opportunities for you to really discuss with the NDIA exactly what it is you’re looking for in terms of housing for yourself.
The second key document is really important for you to get the right outcome the first time — or at least to give all the information needed to get the best outcome you can. It’s a document that comes with a range of different titles, but essentially it’s an OT Functional Assessment that applies your functional requirements and your functional needs to the SDA legislation.
You might find that some places call it a Housing Report, other places call it an SDA Assessment, but essentially it is an OT working with you to match your functional requirements to a design category.
That OT report is also a key place for you to discuss where you’d like to live because that’s part of SDA outcomes as well. Do you want to live on the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, or even interstate. Go wild and really figure it out where it is you’d like to see yourself.
It also covers the design category, which is really what you’re looking for from your OT — that functional application of your needs to a design category. You also have the opportunity to talk about whether you’re looking for single occupant living, or perhaps a shared outcome because you are looking for roommates and that level of social interaction. It really helps you to tease out exactly what you’re looking for in these kinds of reports.
Submit that Home and Living Supports Request Form as soon as you possibly can. Then the Home and Living branch can assist you with any next steps they might require in order for you to explore your housing options. It is a form that goes to a particular department that is relatively new with the NDIA that assists people with their living options. In addition to that, you can indicate that a OT Functional Assessment report is on its way to provide them with more information on where it is you’d like to live and how it is you’d like to live.
They are the essential parts to get into the NDIS and start your SDA journey. You have many different resources and organisations that can help support and guide you. People like Lydia and Brendon at the Housing Hub and the Summer Foundation have some fabulous resources for you to use.
At MS Queensland, we have on our Facebook, YouTube, and website, videos and other resources you can access to learn a little bit more about what these different steps could look like for you. If you are looking at a site that MS Queensland supports our partners to do intake for, like Accessible Homes Australia, or something that we might be building ourselves, please get in touch because we are happy to support you through that journey as well.