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Specialist disability accommodation changes lives but it needs to be in people’s NDIS Plan

15 Jun 2020

Specialist disability accommodation changes lives but it needs to be in people’s NDIS Plan

Leading, Hunter based, provider of specialist disability housing, Compass Housing, says the region’s growing stock of specialist disability accommodation (SDA) will help to improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families.  

Compass’ Executive Manager SDA, Helga Smit, said some people remain unaware of the availability and benefits of SDA. Ms Smit said SDA needs to be approved by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and be in a person’s NDIS plan for them to access the housing.

SDA is available for people with a permanent disability who have very high support needs. SDA funding is paid to the person with a disability in their NDIS plan which they use to lease SDA housing or a room in a group home from a registered SDA provider.

Ms Smit said it is important for people to start planning for SDA early.

“It can take a long time to get SDA into a plan,” Ms Smit said.

“You don’t need to have identified a particular house to test for SDA eligibility and you can get SDA in a plan to use in the future. This is important if the health of the person with the disability or their parents starts to deteriorate,” she said.

Ms Smit sees, first-hand, people with disabilities thriving in this accommodation.

One resident of a property Compass manages is Chris. In state care since he was four, Chris, now 59, lives in a new, specially designed five bedroom home, with 24 hour support. Since moving in, Chris has built a chicken pen in the backyard. He tends the chickens, collects eggs and helps maintain the vegetable gardens with fellow residents.

“SDA is providing Chris and other people with disabilities the chance to live more independently, in the community, rather than an institution.”

A new report by Social Ventures Australia and Summer Foundation, Specialist Disability Accommodation – Supply in Australia, shows a welcome growth in the supply of SDA housing in Australia but says there remains a significant shortfall. But Compass Housing has a limited number of vacancies in newly built SDA properties in the Hunter and other parts of NSW.

Ms Smit said SDA also offers a solution to the problem of thousands of young people inappropriately living in residential aged care facilities.

She said Compass has a long and successful history of managing homes for people with high and complex levels of support. It is one of the largest SDA providers in Australia, managing around 1070 SDA places.

Compass also provides fee for service disability tenancy and property management for organisations. In March it won a two-year contract to provide such services at Summer Housing’s new Circa Three apartments in Brisbane. Compass already manages other Summer Housing apartments including 10 located within the Belle development in Lake Macquarie.

Compass is registered under the National Community Housing Regulatory System as a Tier 1 Provider and is a nationally registered SDA Provider with the NDIS.

It has produced a free five step guide to getting SDA into an NDIS Plan at https://www.compasshousing.org/getting-sda-your-plan

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