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Support Coordination: House Hunters

Helpful tips to develop an informed action plan that supports participants' independent living choices.

By Charmaine Fraser

Updated 15 Apr 202428 Sept 2021

When I have spare time, I love to binge watch the show House Hunters. Each episode follows a familiar pattern: house hunters enlist the assistance of an enthusiastic agent and embark on their search for a property. They are offered choices and then a compromise. Will the house hunters sacrifice a dream kitchen for an extra bedroom? Or endure a longer work commute to be within walking distance of the beach?

The house-hunting checklist for NDIS participants may look different

In real life, the challenges facing house-hunting NDIS participants are greater, and the search for a place to call home is rarely quick or easy. The checklist might include features such as level access, room for sleepover support, and an accessible bathroom. The budget may be constrained by the limitations of a Disability Support Pension (DSP). However, hopeful house-hunting participants can be successful in their search with the assistance of savvy Support Coordinators with skills and experience sourcing home and living supports.

 

Support Coordinators who love to help house hunters

As a Support Coordinator, I get a twinge of excitement when I see an NDIS goal such as “I would like to transition to living independently in my own home” or “I would like to explore housing options and build the skills to live independently”. Support Coordinators who build their capability in the home and living domain will never be short of participants to support, because everybody needs somewhere to live.

The process begins with the cultivation of a vision, is followed by the development of a detailed action plan (informed by an understanding of where funding responsibilities fall), and is helped along by a healthy mix of patience, persistence, and perseverance.

 

The vision

Before jumping straight to housing solutions, take time to tease out the participant’s vision and preferences. Prioritise friends, family, partners, and pets over providers and packages of support.

 

Imagine an Australia where people with disability live ordinary lives in ordinary homes and are included in their communities. An Australia where disability doesn’t limit where, how, or who you live with. We know that this is not always the case now. By starting to talk about how you can live an ordinary life at home, we can start to make this a reality.
NDIS Consultation Paper: An ordinary life at home, June 2021

                  (submissions closed on 10 September 2021)

Who's paying? 

House hunters can receive NDIS-funded supports towards their home and living goal. However, the NDIS wont fund things that fall outside its responsibility or everyday expenses such as rent, mortgage payments or utilities. Here is a summary of who funds what (more detail can be found in the NDIA Operational Guidelines):

What the NDIS funds

  • Support of personal care such as assistance with showering and dressing
  • Help around the house such as assistance with cleaning and laundry
  • Supports to build the capacity to live independently
  • Supports to improve livings skills, money and household management, social and communication skills, and behavioural management
  • Supports which assist to obtain or maintain accommodation
  • Assistive technology
  • Home Modifications (in privately owned dwellings)
  • Specialist Disability Accommodation

What other systems fund
Income Support such as Disability Support Pension and Commonwealth Rent Assistance

  • Public and community housing
  • Homelessness and emergency accommodation assistance
  • Affordable housing (e.g., National Rental Affordability Scheme)
  • Home Modifications (in public or community housing)
  • Provision of accessible community infrastructure (e.g., community buildings and amenities)

Action!

And now it is time to act! You will want to develop an action plan in collaboration with the participant and their informal supports. We’ve included some steps you may want to consider below.

Defining vision:

  • You want to begin by capturing the participant’s vision and housing preferences. Consider questions such as:
    • Where do they want to live?
    • Who do they want to live with?
    • What type of support will help – people, technology, and modifications?

Gathering evidence:

  • Make connections with Allied Health professionals who can build capacity for independent living skills, complete any required assessments, and create a transition plan.
  • Once you have worked out what Assistive Technology and/or Home Mods are required, it is time to navigate the assessment, trial, quote, and approval processes. This will usually also require the involvement of Allied Health professionals. 

Tackling affordability:

  • The DSP isn’t a particularly large income, which can make finding a home difficult. That is why it is also often a good idea to help participants to pursue a goal to find and keep a job, as even a modest additional income can increase affordability.
  • Support the participant to develop and nurture social connections. If financial realities mean it’s more affordable to share, then it’s better to share with friends than strangers that just happen to have similar disabilities or support needs.

Exploring supports the NDIS can provide:

  • Investigate contemporary support options such as the new Individualised Living Options (ILO) package.
  • If Supported Independent Living (SIL) is the answer, then make sure you provide input to the Participant Profile and Roster of Care which form part of the SIL submission.
  • Know when to test eligibility for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA). This support is for participants with extreme functional impairment and/or very high support needs, it is estimated that only 6% of participants nationwide will be eligible. So, you also want to build your skills in identifying accommodation options for the other 94% of participants, including home ownership, private rental, social housing, living with family, or sharing with friends.

Another tip to boost a participant’s potential to secure private rental tenancy is to form relationships with local estate agents. Highlight participant strengths such as the consistent Centrelink income, the ability to maintain the property with funded support from domestic assistance, or house and yard maintenance.  

When the time is right, submit an S48 Change of Circumstance and/or Home and Living Supports Request Form. You will also need to pull everything together in a Support Coordination housing report to the NDIA.

 

Persistence pays off

House hunting can be challenging for participants and their families. However, with a clear vision, an action plan, and support from a Support Coordinator, participants can live in a home with the supports they need to live an ordinary life – and that can be extraordinarily life changing.

Authors

Charmaine Fraser

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