Intellectual Disability - is SDA an option for me? | MyCareSpace

Intellectual Disability - is SDA an option for me?

Accessible Accommodation two storey suburban house

Overview of Intellectual Disability

The terms mild, moderate, severe and profound are used to describe the severity of a person's intellectual disability.

An intellectual disability can result in difficulties in a range of areas related to understanding, communicating, socialising and emotions.

An intellectual disability can impact your ability to care for yourself and manage your daily living needs.

An intellectual disability may coincide with a physical disability, where a co-occurring condition is diagnosed, such as Cerebral Palsy.

A severe or profound intellectual disability is likely to coincide with a physical disability that may necessitate the following:

  • High level of care support
  • Use of assistive technology for mobility, transfers and to engage in personal care routines
  • Accessible home environment to perform your daily routines

If this is the case, SDA may be a support suitable for you.


What is SDA?

SDA is the acronym for Specialist Disability Accommodation. 

The NDIS describe SDA as being a range of housing designed for people with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs.

SDA dwellings have accessible features to help residents live more independently and allow other supports to be delivered better or more safely.

SDA can be provided across the following settings:

  • Apartment
  • Villa
  • Duplex
  • Townhouse
  • House

There are different levels of SDA with varying accessibility features you require depending on the complexity of your physical support needs. These levels are:

SDA Design Categories


Does SDA also include support?

No, SDA refers to the physical environment only. SDA does not include support.

To meet your support requirements, this will need to be arranged separately. Support needs can be met through drop in supports, Supported Independent Living (SIL), concierge support etc.

Find out more about SIL for Intellectual Disability here:


What is the eligibility criteria for SDA?

There is quite strict eligibility criteria for SDA, as only a small percentage of participants on the NDIS are considered entitled to SDA.

The NDIA advise that most participants don’t need to live in SDA, and there may be other home and living supports that are more suitable.

To meet the eligibility criteria for SDA, you must be able to demonstrate one of the following:

  • have an extreme functional impairment
  • have very high support needs


SDA and Intellectual Disability

Extreme Functional Impairment

To be considered as having an extreme functional impairment related to your intellectual disability, you need to have difficulties completing daily tasks on your own, or not be able to complete them at all.

You must present with difficulties with one or more of the following:

  • Mobility – such as walking, climbing stairs, getting in and out of a bed or a chair, carrying or moving items, and getting out of the house.
  • Self-care – such as washing yourself, going to the toilet, getting dressed, eating, drinking, talking and taking medication.
  • Self-management – such as housework, following routines, making friends and relationships, maintaining boundaries and managing your behaviour.

Very High Support Needs

To be considered as having very high support needs, this means you require a lot of person-to-person support for a significant part of the day. You either need direct access to support, by having a support person with you or contactable for immediate support.

In this case, SDA may be considered most appropriate for you if:

  • Your family or friends can’t give you this support or maintain the level of support you need. 
  • SDA will help reduce any safety risks to you or to others around you.

The NDIA have made allowances for individuals who have lived in a place like SDA for a long time, supporting a transition to SDA. The aim here is to reduce the difficulties that may be experienced for someone with an intellectual disability to explore and transition to other housing options.


How do the NDIS know if I have an extreme functional impairment or very high support needs?

To apply for SDA, you must submit a Home and Living Supporting Evidence Form. This includes a form you can complete yourself or it can be completed by someone else, such as:

  • Family
  • Close friend
  • Support Coordinator

This must be submitted alongside a Change in Situation Form to the NDIS.

Alongside this request, it is recommended that you gather other information regarding your disability and support needs, with specific recommendations relating to your eligibility for SDA and requirements of an accessible property.

This information may be prepared by an allied health professional, such as an Occupational Therapist, to provide a detailed overview of your functional capacity and support needs.


How can I be assessed for SDA?

You will also have the best chance of success applying for SDA by undertaking a Functional Capacity Assessment completed by an Occupational Therapist.

The Function Capacity Assessment Report for SDA should include additional recommendations that specifies your requirements for SDA related to your disability, and other considerations for SDA regarding the design type, building type, location etc.

Find an OT

You are not guaranteed approval for SDA even if you have an OT report which recommends SDA for you. Ultimately, the decision to approve or decline requests for funding is up to the NDIA.


What happens if I am not eligible for SDA?

If you have an intellectual disability that is classified as mild or moderate, it is not likely that you will be deemed eligible for SDA. This is because the level of impairment and subsequent support needs do not meet the NDIA’s expectations for what is required to be approved for SDA.

You will need to explore alternative housing options, such as home ownership, private rental or subsidised housing through other agencies, such as DCJ Housing.

You can still arrange to receive support across these home settings in line with your needs.


Find an SDA Provider

The MyCareSpace Connections Team can assist you with finding the right SDA provider for you with vacancies.

Connect with our team to find out more.

Find SDA


Our Connections Team at MyCareSpace are linked in with a range of providers offering telehealth services with availability. Let our team help you navigate the NDIS and find the right service for you.
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