Why shouldn’t people with disability live with flatmates? Or friends? They should. The NDIS is now offering funding for such ‘individualised living options’.
The National Disability Insurance Agency recently did something that could transform the future living arrangements for thousands of people with disability. It tossed out one of the most limiting ideas about disability living – that others know best what place you should call ‘home’. The question the NDIA poses now begins with the person and leaves room for dreams: How do you want to live?
The concept is called Individualized Living Options (ILO).
ILO, which only became an official funding option in July 2019, comprises an unlimited number of highly unique living arrangements for people with disability. They’re especially suited for those who otherwise would find themselves in a group home, living with their parents right through adulthood, or with transient living situations.
House share or host family – everything is worth exploring
Moving into your own apartment with a drop-in carer and a friendly neighbour as backup support? Worth a try. Starting a mixed share house with disabled and non-disabled friends? Fair enough. With ILO, every living arrangement you can imagine is worth exploring. If a participant and their support team find a way to make it work, the NDIS is willing to fund it.
It is a revolutionary approach, a break from a past where people with disabilities were stripped of choice, confined to living with their parents or kept to themselves in group homes with rostered care and little personal touch.
ILO are the opposite of institutionalized housing. They pave the way for a future where Australians with a disability can live self-determined, dignified lives – in the place they choose, with the people they like, in the way they want, with the support they need.
As such, ILO can open doors for those whose living options have so far felt narrow.
They can offer peace of mind to parents wishing for their children to become more independent as they grow into adults.
For someone feeling stuck in a Supported Independent Living (SIL) group home, ILO can be a path to experiencing a more ordinary life in the home of a host family.
A person with a history of homelessness or moving a lot can hope to find more stability with the right ILO.
So, what’s the challenge?
Endless possibility is the big drawcard for this new living option. It may just as well be the greatest hurdle. You’re free to design any model you like, but you will need to start from scratch without the security of a ready-to-go template. This is why the planning stage alone can take up to 12 months.
The NDIS has created a step-by-step funding process to help participants explore which living model might be most viable for them. Check out our how-to guide for more details.
You need a good understanding of your needs and the people you could pull together to meet them: support workers, family, friends, community volunteers. The good news is there’s a growing number of specialist ILO providers who can help you with this task.
ILO service providers are experts in tailoring unique living models. They can help you secure the funding you need to make your ILO arrangement last, ensure everything runs smoothly over time and work with you to sort out any problems.
It’s still early days for ILO. Western Australia pioneered these living arrangements decades ago. Yet they’re far less common in the rest of the country. The big hope is that, one day soon, having full choice over what home means to you with a disability stops being outrageous, but common sense.
Would you like to start exploring ILO? Learn how to apply for NDIS funding and more in our easy step-by-step guide.