Although Western Australia is the last state to transition to the NDIS Commission, Perth is punching above its weight when it comes to Specialist Disability Accommodation. From both an innovation and partnerships perspective, Perth is setting a strong benchmark for the remainder of WA to follow when it comes to SDA housing.

From the most recent SDA Supply Report produced by Social Ventures Australia in collaboration with The Summer Foundation, it can be seen that as at 30 September 2019, there are roughly 116 SDA places in development in WA. As we have seen in most other states, this pipeline is dominated by High Physical Support category Apartment builds. Most of them are in the building approval or finance approval stages, meaning that builds should be starting throughout 2020 for completion in the next 24 months.

Built Form

A key element to consider in the built form of SDA properties is the input and feedback of participants, a process often referred to as ‘co-design’. This stage of design consideration is absolutely essential to maximise the participant’s choice and control. The small additions and requests from participants are what provides true independence to each tenant in the home.

Rocky Bay has recently opened their first SDA home in Girrawheen and is actively seeking participants who wish to co-design future homes with them, ultimately allowing them to be involved in the process from day one. This co-design element will include the participant themselves, the participant’s occupational therapist and in-home care provider (SIL). A key facet of “going above and beyond” in built form is not just building to the minimum required by the SDA Standard, but offering more functionality and customisation. As an example, even though Rocky Bay’s house in Girrawheen is a ‘Fully Accessible’ category house, it includes hoists, impressive assistive technology and other elements of a ‘High Physical Support’ build. This demonstrates a high level of exceeding design requirements and “going above and beyond”.

Assistive Technology

Whilst there have not been a huge number of SDA homes completed in Perth, many pipeline properties are being designed with industry leading assistive technology. This sets a strong benchmark for what should be expected by participant’s when choosing their new SDA home.

Recently, Sana Living in collaboration with Optimal Living Therapy have announced they will be using a range of high end assistive technology from Quantify Technologies. These installations will include smart power points, dimmable light switches and smart auto blinds. Whilst the SDA Design Standard only specifically calls for internet connection allowing high speed internet and a video/intercom/communications system, the above inclusions by Sana Living set a benchmark for high quality SDA living.

We wrote recently about the varying roles and responsibilities of different parties when it comes to assistive technology in our article Who Does What – for some further reading.

Partnerships

A key piece of feedback we have been receiving from SDA industry players in Western Australia, has been the lack of SDA funding coming through for NDIS participants. Whilst this could be for a number of reasons, a key focus point should be the clarity and strength of each submission, so there is no room for misinterpretation by the planner. This comes down to effective partnerships between occupational therapists (and allied health professionals which assist in collecting the evidence needed by the OT) and the participant’s support coordinator who eventually submits the housing report. It is essential to scour the market for the best OTs and support coordinators available, who are well educated about all aspects of housing reports and high care needs participants.

Now more than ever in Perth, as funding is coming slowly, choosing effective strategic partnerships with high quality industry leaders is critical.

Vera Living

We will be providing updates on the SDA properties we plan to deliver in Perth in the coming months. Stay tuned for the innovation we plan to bring to the SDA space.

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