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Future Focus: NDIS Home & Living and SDA

Brent provides predictions about what the future holds, in a space where everyone wants those very answers.

By Brent Woolgar

Updated 15 Apr 202416 Sept 2021

There has recently been a flurry of activity in the Home and Living space, particularly with the release of key consultation papers and several SDA market reports.

The consultation papers are:

  • An Ordinary Life at Homeand
  • Supporting You to Make Your Own Decisions 

 

Some of the more notable market reports and information include:

  • NDIS SDA Market Information Statement 
  • NDIS SDA Participant Data (30 June 2021)
  • Summer Foundation SDA Investor Think Tank – Findings and Recommendations, August 2021
  • The Hopkins Centre – The SDA Landscape in Queensland

Reading through these documents, I feel a growing unease that the SDA market may be misreading the future direction of Home and Living. So, what does the future actually hold? Let’s polish the crystal ball and analyse these documents to make some interesting predictions.

 

The future of home & living supports

In the past, many people viewed the SDA market and the support market (usually SIL) in isolation. As we move forward, it will be vital to have a detailed understanding of both, whether you work in SDA or support. It is very likely that the separation of these services will be enforced in the near future. Nevertheless, you will still need a detailed understanding of both and the influence they have on each other. For example, without understanding future support environments such as ILO, SDA providers may not deliver properties that facilitate this type of service and therefore significantly increase their vacancy risks.

An Ordinary Life at Home outlines a visionary future for people pursuing independent Home and Living goals. From a participant perspective, that future looks very encouraging. But there is a lot of work and transformation to be done within the broader sector to make it a reality. The envisioned future is best represented through the following flow chart from the consultation paper:

This flow chart provokes a number of important observations:

  1. The initial stages of the process rely on an assessment of a person’s capacity and support needs to live independently. Originally, Independent Assessments were meant to fulfil this role, but that plan has since been abandoned. Nevertheless, for the above process to work, some type of assessment will be needed. So, will we see the re-emergence of a form of assessment, maybe performed independently, in the future?
  2. The above process also suggests that after the Approved Plan stage, a person can start exploring and designing their supports by engaging with providers to determine the type, location, and format of support. Currently the main support “brands” for independent living are as follows:

ILO and SIL currently have quite different funding models. ILO has an Exploration and Design stage (Stage 1) and an Implementation, Ongoing Monitoring and Redesign stage (Stage 2). Both come with several funding limits. This is where the crystal ball comes into play – for the future Home and Living flow chart to work as intended, SIL funding will probably also need various levels of funding for exploration and design and service delivery. Several factors in today’s SIL market support this theory:

  1. SIL funding being allocated to people’s flexible Core budgets, instead of the previous approach of this funding being “quarantined” in people’s plans, with the Agency making and managing service bookings. 
  2. Funding cuts to SIL are occurring nationwide and in some cases are extreme, with up to 50% reductions being reported. Many of the revised (i.e., lower) SIL budgets are starting to converge within “ranges” of SIL funding. 

 So, it is probable that we will see fixed levels of independent living supports funding across all different types of support “brands”. Is this a bad thing? Only time will tell from a participant perspective. From an SDA perspective, this could actually be good news.

 

Impacts on SDA

Assuming the predictions above do come to pass, that could be a positive for the SDA market. 

The main reason is that in the past year or so, many SDA eligibility decisions have been ignoring choice and control and, despite significant and compelling supporting information, denying SDA requests for people to live by themselves, especially in apartment settings and the High Physical Support design category. The recently released SDA Market Information Statement would have you believe the NDIS has been making these decisions due to a fear of oversupply of this type of dwelling. But in truth, it is quite obvious that the NDIA believes that the cost of funding people living on their own is simply too high and is impacting broader Scheme sustainability.

However, in the future, if all possible support types for independent living have different levels and fixed funding caps, then the NDIS will have full visibility of both the SDA andthe support funding decisions at the initial stages of the process. This could free up SDA decisions because there will be no uncertainty as to the support costs associated with a particular SDA eligibility outcome.  

As time passes, it is likely that demand for innovative supports like ILO will increase. From an SDA provider perspective, it is vital to understand the different forms of ILO and how they can influence dwelling designs, especially, for example, the need for “spare” bedrooms.

 

The future

We can never be 100% certain what will happen until decisions are actually made. However, as the above analysis explains, much of what we are predicting will be necessary to enable the proposed Home and Living process to work. Some movement is already underway, especially in the SIL market, that aligns with the above theory. 

If you are currently considering SDA market entry or expansion, it has never been more important to get your head around all the complexities and linkages between dwelling and support. Doing so ensures you deliver dwellings that are “future-proofed” for participants and support funding accessibility.

Authors

Brent Woolgar

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