With a few exceptions, people with a disability are required to find their own housing. If the person is able to manage their own money and make decisions for themselves, this can usually be achieved with a range of supports available. There are also a number of NDIS-related options for people with higher care needs to live independently.
Ensuring the person you care for has a safe and suitable place to live when you are no longer around can be a real source of stress for family members and carers. What can you do to future-proof housing to ensure changing needs are adequately accommodated?
This question is particularly concerning for parents or carers who are ageing or ill and even more worrying for people on low incomes without existing property assets.
The Australian Government recommends that families make arrangements for accommodation proactively and early to ensure a plan is in place to provide appropriate accommodation for family members with a disability.
In this extract from the Leap in! ebook Future planning: A guide for parents and carers, we explore some of the options for independent living and the assistance available.
Independent living options.
Private rental market.
Private rentals may be ideal for people with a disability who are able to manage their own finances and decision-making. However, housing the in the private rental market may be too inflexible to provide for longer-term needs or unsuitable for a person with high care needs. Changes to circumstances or ownership may result in the person having to move elsewhere, sometimes at short notice.
Social housing (also called public or community housing).
An option for longer-term housing could be social housing, with many community housing agreements offering long-term security and affordable terms. The opportunity may also arise to purchase the home in the future. Eligibility criteria apply and there are wait lists in many areas.
Not every family can afford to purchase a separate property but for those that can, private ownership offers a secure home for the person to live in perpetuity. Legal arrangements can be made in your will for the person to continue living in the property.
Some families choose to establish a Special Disability Trust, making the person a beneficiary of property such as a house or apartment where they can live indefinitely (see section on Special Disability Trusts in Legal and Financial considerations for more details).
With a lack of long-term and suitable accommodation for people with a disability across most of Australia, some families and communities are developing innovative solutions to meet current and future needs. A range of examples exist including people with a disability pooling their resources and investing in properties with friends, as well as small-scale community-based housing solutions.
Private disability accommodation.
A number of independent housing cooperatives or organisations are popping up, offering a range of purpose-built investment opportunities and rental accommodation. While they are mostly connected with Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), options may be available that do not require SDA funding.
Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA).
SDA is a new program that builds or modifies accommodation for people with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs who require specialist housing solutions. Funding is available through the NDIS for the development of specialised homes for a small number of people (approximately 6% of NDIS participants) who meet strict eligibility criteria.
Eligible NDIS participants receive funding in their NDIS Plan that can be used to approach the market and find or develop a registered dwelling that meets their needs. SDA supports the concept of a “home for life” where needs can be met for the long-term and people with a disability can “age in place”, with the supports they need.
Some of the other things that you might need to think about when considering independent living options include:
- Ongoing care expenses
- Location suitability
- Ability to accommodate changing future needs
- Strategies for overcoming loneliness and isolation
- Continued skill development and capacity building
- Consideration of continuity of supports as the person moves from one location to another, such as maintaining the same doctor and allied health professionals
- Ability to accommodate support worker preferences.
Assistance with independent living.
Supported Independent Living (SIL).
Supported Independent Living (SIL) was established by the NDIS to provide assistance with or supervision of daily tasks, as well as skill development, to help an individual to live as independently as possible. As SIL is designed to aid independence, it is worthwhile considering whether SIL could be part of your future planning strategy.
SIL may be available when informal supports, such as the care of family or friends, is unable to meet the needs of the person and they are living in an independent environment such as a rental property, share house or Specialist Disability Accommodation. It may be appropriate in shared living environments with 2–7 participants.
For more information, check out the Leap in! Supported Independent Living ebook.
Individual Living Options (ILO).
Individual Living Options are new support options, funded by the NDIS. They focus on the individual and are designed to support NDIS participants living in a range of situations. They are often a more suitable alternative to a shared home and offer a degree of flexibility in terms of living arrangements.
ILO is a person-centred arrangement that can be implemented in the mainstream housing market, such as through renting a private property alone or with friends.
- Co-residency: support resides full-time in the person’s home
- Host arrangements: participant resides full-time in the home of a non- related host who provides support
- Living alone: support is provided in the home of the participant
- Living together: the person lives with other people – who may or may not be NDIS participants – and receives support. This could include family.
A provider works with the participant to develop a customised support plan that suits their individual needs, that is implemented in stages and refined over time. It can include both primary and supplementary supports.
Other types of financial support.
Some of the below financial supports may be available if eligibility criteria are met:
- Disability Support Pension
- Newstart Allowance
- Mobility Allowance
- Essential Medical Equipment Payment
- Continence Aids Payment Scheme.
For more information, check out the Centrelink payment and service finder.
Note: The NDIS does not provide income support.
For more information about emergency and future planning, check out our Future planning guide page or download the full version of the free Leap in! ebook, Future planning: A guide for parents and carers.
The information provided here is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial or legal advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any of this information, you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your objectives, financial/legal situation and needs.