Specialist Disability Accommodation is essentially housing that is purpose built to support the needs of people who live with significant handicaps. They are not built just to provide a place to live, but rather are intended to meet any additional needs people may have and help them get the high quality care that they need.
The housing is purpose built to make it easy to provide high levels of care, similar to aged care facilities, but with fewer people living in each unit (the theoretical maximum is 5 people in each self-contained building). Specialist Disability Accommodation generally has handicapped assistance built in, such as handholds in bathrooms and bedrooms.
How do you get access to it?
Currently there is a severe shortage of housing purpose built for people with handicaps. The government is funding a substantial increase in Specialist Disability Accommodation through the NDIS, which will mean that people who need it will be able to afford the care and housing they need, but the existing supply needs to grow substantially to meet demand.
Many care providers are building their own units to take advantage of the increase in NDIS funding, but it will take time for these to become operational. Until then many younger people who need intensive general care are being placed in nursing homes.
The problems with this are twofold: firstly, aged care homes are not equipped to encourage rehabilitation or improve people’s movement; and secondly, people miss out on socializing with peers in their own age group. Both of these problems are at least partially resolved by Specialist Disability Accommodation.
If you need Specialist Disability Accommodation the NDIA will look for somewhere suitable for you, but looking yourself can also be useful. Your best bet might be to apply for a place in one of the purpose-built facilities currently being constructed by a number of care providers yourself, as this can reduce the time you will be waiting to get in.
Unfortunately there is no real way to fast track the process of building or getting into the units, as they need to be specifically designed with the care and comfort of handicapped people in mind. People who require this kind of housing mostly have intellectual handicaps, but many also suffer from neurological or physical impairments – and in some cases fit into more than one category.
This means that the living units need to be flexible enough to allow for different kinds of care. They also need to be built to encourage rehabilitation for those who have suffered accidents, and promote increased independence for residents – even though this kind of therapy only makes minor improvements over a long period, it can still improve the quality of life for many people.
Specialist Disability Accommodation is complicated, but people who need it can be encouraged that there are good prospects for wider availability in the near to medium future – as well as adequate government funding through the NDIS.
What kinds of Specialist Disability Accommodation are there?
There are a number of different options for dedicated housing for handicapped people. For those who are looking to gain increased independence, as well as live in a more social environment, share house style living is available, with each resident having an independent bedroom with a communal kitchen – and carers for the whole house to help people learn skills like cooking and cleaning.
Specialist Disability Accommodation can also be more private while still retaining social aspects. Apartment style living, with independent units built for one or two people each and shared social and recreational space. People in this kind of unit generally need more individual care than in the share house style options, but can simply not want to live in a crowded house.
It is important to note that no-one who needs Specialist Disability Accommodation will be forced into one particular housing style, and people will be able to choose who they live with (according to the NDIS, anyway). However, given the lack of availability it may take a while to change if you find that the style you are in does not suit you.
The living arrangements in your Specialty Disability Accommodation will also partially be dependent on the care you need, the carers you like and what is available in the area. Your funding allows you to choose who you receive care from and where you live, but if the support providers you like do not operate in an area that has the housing you want then you will need to make a choice.
Specialist Disability Accommodation is a fantastic service for people who need regular, high level care in their everyday lives. It can also be a good way for people with intellectual and neurological impairments to increase their independence and gain skills, as well as offering rehabilitation assistance if these problems are combined with a physical handicap.