The Critical Role of Occupational Therapy in SDA

SDA Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapists play a crucial role in the SDA Application process. Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), is a type of housing designed for people who have very high support needs. OTs act as a valuable resource in helping a person with a disability apply for SDA in one of our Ability Apartments and are involved in several aspects of an applicant’s SDA journey. 

An Occupational Therapist (OT) conducts specialised functional assessments on a potential tenant’s needs and provides valuable insight to help clarify the participant’s housing requirements. Ability SDA considers all the feedback provided by an OT when making the final decisions on a participant’s eligibility and assists us in approving their application. It also assists in selecting the correct apartment layout for the tenant and facilitates the optimal allocation of customised home automation technology.

Assessment and Documentation

An Occupational Therapist provides a number of key assessments and reports to support the SDA application process. These include:

Comprehensive Assessment: The OT conducts a thorough assessment of the individual’s functional abilities and limitations. This assessment focuses on daily living activities, mobility, self-care, communication, and any other relevant functional aspects affected by the tenant’s disability. All Ability Apartments are built and designed to maximise functional living patterns, support a tenant’s physical needs and ultimately provide a safe space for them to exercise choice and control while living independently.

Functional Capacity Assessment: The OT will assess the person’s current and future functional capacity to determine the level of support required in an SDA setting. In the event that an Ability Apartment tenant has a degenerative condition, Ability SDA is able to make provisions for future physical or technological supports like ceiling hoists or voice automated housing controls.

Needs Analysis: The OT will identify specific disability-related needs that require specialized accommodation and support. Again, Ability SDA uses the information from this report to optimise a tenant’s experience of living in an Ability Apartment and ensuring that they have everything they need to make the apartment feel like a home.

Recommendation of SDA Features

Based on the findings of their assessments, an OT can recommend specific design features and equipment that will enable an SDA tenant to live more independently and comfortably in an Ability Apartment. Generally, these recommendations include accessibility features like widened doorways, adaptive kitchen appliances, accessible bathrooms or Assistive Technology. 

Ability SDA has already taken several of these components into consideration when designing and building each one of our properties. We provide custom-designed apartment layouts with fob activated doors, wheelchair friendly hallways and doors, voice activated climate controls, home automation, ceiling hoists, accessible bathrooms and kitchens in each location. Access to outside balconies does not require the inclusion of extra ramps either as all of our areas are already completely accessible to our tenants. Ability SDA also adds several of these functional inclusions to other communal areas throughout the building to make the whole property accessible. This may include accessible parking areas, accessible building entries, automated lifts and accessible rooftop terraces or gardens.

Assistance in Preparing the Application

An Occupational Therapist plays a fundamental role in helping to progress a tenant’s application for specialist housing from Ability SDA. They provide detailed reports and documentation that clearly outline the individual’s functional capacities and support needs. These reports form the basis of an eligibility assessment and allows the tenant to access the correct level of funding from the NDIS to help subsidise their rent in an Ability Apartment. 

The OT can also work closely with the person and their support network (family, caregivers, support coordinators) to compile any necessary information for the Ability SDA application submission. The first step is filling in our Guide to Eligibility which is something an OT can do on a potential tenant’s behalf.

Collaboration with Other Professionals:

When an Occupational Therapist collaborates with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, physical therapists, and social workers, it serves to strengthen the application for Specialist Disability Accommodation through Ability SDA, by providing a comprehensive view of the potential tenant’s needs.

Support During Assessments:

In some cases, the NDIS will require a potential tenant to undergo further assessments or interviews with other disability support agencies or organizations before giving them an SDA approval. The individual’s OT can help them prepare for these assessments and advocate for their needs during the NDIS approval process. Once the NDIS approves the participant for SDA funding, their OT becomes a key contact for Ability SDA to help us assess their application and allocate the best apartment for them too.

Advocacy and Appeals:

If the initial NDIS application is denied, the OT can assist the person in preparing appeals by providing additional evidence and documentation to support their eligibility for SDA.

Monitoring and Review:

After approval through the NDIS and a successful application with Ability SDA, the OT often helps to prepare the tenant for moving into their Ability Apartment. The OT can continue to monitor the tenant’s progress and provide ongoing support, training and advocacy for adjustments to the accommodation requirements as needed.

What should you look for when choosing an Occupational Therapist?

A good OT will always focus on the needs of the person living with a disability before anything else. They will kindly assess their clients with a view to improving their lives both from a physical/functional and practical, social perspective. It’s important that you look for an OT experienced in writing SDA application reports.

An OT should also be knowledgeable about NDIS policies and procedures. They should be familiar with NDIS’s Home and Living Supporting Evidence Form as well as standard SDA rules and guidelines. Additionally, a good OT will have a collaborative attitude as they may be required to work closely with disability support agencies and legal advisors throughout the NDIS and Ability SDA application processes.

Ability SDA values the amazing contribution of all the Occupational Therapists we have the chance to deal with on behalf of our tenants. They play a crucial role in securing SDA housing for their clients and allowing Ability SDA to provide functional, beautiful and comfortable homes. All people living with disabilities deserve the opportunity live happy, fulfilled lives – exercising full choice and control – in well designed, accessible homes.

To check your eligibility for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), please see our Guide to Eligibility or get in touch to discuss your needs.