How to Choose the Right Category of SDA Housing

robust SDA accommodation at Kallangur, Brisbane

How to Choose the Right Category of SDA Housing

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Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) is a specific funding payment under the NDIS, if housing needs are included in your goals. Once you have a clear housing goal, and your support needs are confirmed, you can organise an Occupational Therapist (OT) assessment to determine the recommended inclusions you require in your accommodation. Your funding application will need to include a request for a specific SDA design category, based on your OT assessment recommendation and your needs.

Types of SDA Housing

SDA can be houses, townhouses, villas, apartments, or duplexes. Older style SDA housing may include larger facilities, but new build SDA dwellings are restricted to be able to accommodate a maximum of five residents and have specific design standards based on their SDA category.

SDA Design Categories

There are four SDA design categories: Fully Accessible, High Physical Support, Improved Liveability, and Robust. Each category provides minimum home design requirements, and your assessment and individual needs will help determine which SDA category you should be seeking funding for.

Fully Accessible

Fully Accessible SDA housing is designed to incorporate a high level of physical access provision for people with significant physical impairment. For instance, a wheelchair user who spends most of the day in their wheelchair would likely be eligible for Fully Accessible SDA housing.

This accommodation needs to include:

  • All entry and exit points as wheelchair accessible, with no level changes to door thresholds, stairs, or other obstacles for wheels to move across.
  • Bathroom basins and vanities within reach for someone in either a seated or standing position.
  • Power supply to doors and windows (blinds) for the installation of Assistive Technology (depending on the needs of the Participant).
  • The inclusion of automation and accessibility for someone sitting in the kitchen at meal preparation areas. This includes things like adjustable benchtops and other accessible kitchen appliances. (depending on the needs of the Participant).

High Physical Support

High Physical Support SDA housing incorporates a high level of physical access provision for people with significant physical impairment and requiring very high levels of support. Housing under this category requires an extremely high level of specialised design to further increase physical accessibility.

Design requirements include all the features of the Fully Accessible SDA category, with the addition of the following:

  • Kitchen benchtops, kitchen sink, benchtop and sink cavities, cooktop, meal preparation bench area and key appliances (dishwasher, oven, microwave oven, laundry appliances) need to be accessible in seated or standing position.
  • Structural provision for ceiling hoists. (This can be done on a needs basis depending on the Participant’s ability to ambulate).
  • Assistive technology ready for all.
  • Heating/cooling and household communication technology (intercom or video systems).
  • Emergency power solutions to cater for a minimum two-hour outage where the welfare of Participants is at risk.
  • 950mm minimum clear opening width doors to all habitable rooms.
  • A plinth for washers and driers to sit off the floor.

Improved Liveability

Improved Liveability SDA housing is designed to improve living by incorporating a reasonable level of physical access and enhanced provision for people with sensory, intellectual, or cognitive impairment. This is housing that has been designed to improve ‘liveability,’ with inclusions that boost physical access and make it easier to navigate the space.

Features may include:

  • Contrasting walls and doors.
  • Tactile pieces on walls or within the door.
  • Improved wayfinding with limited corridors for improved navigation.
  • Depending on the needs of Participants, they may also include lines for visual assistance.
  • Task lighting to certain areas.


Robust SDA housing has been designed to incorporate a high level of physical access provision and be very resilient, reducing the likelihood of reactive maintenance and reducing the risk to the participant and the community. The focus of this accommodation is resilience, safety and durability, and is designed to keep people who may have some behaviours which could place them or the people that support them at risk and to keep them safe. They are also built to reduce the likelihood of reactive maintenance.

Robust housing design needs to protect, where possible, the Participants/tenants, their support coordinators or staff, neighbours and the wider community.

Robust housing should include:

  • High impact wall lining, fittings, and fixtures (e.g. door handles, blinds).
  • Secure windows, doors, and external areas.
  • Sound proofing in the instance where residents are likely to cause noise disturbances.
  • Retreat areas for staff and other tenants to avoid harm (if required).
  • Laminated glass.
  • Consideration needs to be given to spaces, room sizes, and other safeguards throughout the home to accommodate the needs of Participants with complex behaviours.

SDA accommodation funding is only approved by the NDIS if it is the only way that your housing goals can be met, so it’s important to understand the SDA categories to ensure the housing support level you need is correctly identified.

swara will be providing the SIL supports at the Robust SDA Accommodation (link) being built by KinKera and we would love to provide Supported Independent Living services to you at these incredible villas! Designed with the specific needs of robust SDA-eligible NDIS Participants in mind, these villas offer a range of features to enhance the quality of life.

swara works with care providers, participants and their loved ones to ensure that our accommodation is appropriate for the participant’s situation to ensure that it’s fit for purpose for your needs.

Read more about our Robust SDA Accommodation or contact the swara team today to discuss your needs.

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