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March 10, 2023

SDA Smart Homes: How to Add Assistive Technology to SDA Properties

In building an SDA compliant home, many investors want to ensure they’re going above and beyond the bare minimum to achieve maximum appeal and independent living for their tenants. The use of assistive technology is standard in all SDA housing, however, knowing how the SDA participants will use the technology can help identify where you can incorporate more than just the standard in your SDA property.

Keep reading to find out more about SDA smart homes and how to add assistive technology provisions that matters to your NDIS investment.

An overview of SDA housing

Specialist disability accommodation (SDA) was introduced under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to address the issue of Australians with disability residing in inappropriate accommodation. Without suitable housing, community members with disability are often left to live in a disability housing centre or aged care facility (even if they are young adults)!

Specialist disability accommodation has been specifically designed to incorporate the necessary provision to support NDIS participants with complex support needs. The SDA supply is still insufficient to meet the demand. The number of NDIS participants who require specialist housing solutions can be found using the NDIS demand data tool.

The federal government is backing the SDA scheme through SDA funding under the NDIS, up to $700M annually, to encourage property investors to invest in SDA homes to support people with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs that otherwise do not have access to suitable housing.

The four design categories of SDA housing

There are four SDA design categories, each uniquely designed to support those with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs.

1. Improved Liveability

2. Robust

3. Fully Accessible

4. High Physical Support

The SDA design standard

Before dwellings can be enrolled in the SDA program, they must be built to the design standard of one of the four design categories. The SDA design standard is what sets out the design requirements and provides clarity and direction for not only SDA builders and architects but the participants seeking a high-quality model.

SDA Architects

What assistive technology can be built into specialist disability accommodation?

Depending on which design category you opt for when building your NDIS investment property, the assistive technology that can be built into the SDA design standard might include:

Doors

Automated doors aren’t mandated in the SDA design standard, however they can make a huge improvement to the ease and efficiency of moving through the home for tenants with physical disability or impairment.

To include automated doors in your SDA home, the provision must be provided at the start of the SDA process, as it will need to be certified, and your SDA builder will need to see the automation details on your plan. Section AS1428.1 of the design standard provides helpful information on where the manual buttons for automated doors should be located.

Kitchen

One of the home automation options that is particularly helpful for SDA homes with multiple tenants is adjustable kitchen benchtop heights. The SDA design standard calls for an adjustable benchtop surface that is 900mm wide. However, the provision accepts a technician manually adjusting the benchtop height.

To provide flexibility, ease and maximum appeal to tenants, automated height adjustability can be incorporated into SDA homes through either floor-mounted or wall-mounted systems.

Lighting

All design categories require dimmable light switches in an SDA home, however, smart home modifications that allow the remote control of lighting in a participant’s room can be beneficial, especially for those with light sensitivity or mobility challenges.

Communication

Whether it’s a video or voice intercom, or other communication systems, NDIS tenants appreciate communicating efficiently and effectively with their visitors and support network, including NDIS support workers who attend the property.

smart sda homes

Fundamental considerations for assistive technology inclusions

No matter what assistive technology is built into an SDA smart home, it will require a reliable power supply and internet connection. Similarly, where technology is used to help provide assistance technology, a manual alternative should always be provided to operate devices, such as switches.

Backup power supply

It’s important to note the requirements for backup power supplies that are outlined in the design standard, which call for a backup power supply that can sustain a 2-hour outage. This is crucial for participant bedrooms and automated doorways.

Top tip: To alert NDIS support staff in the event of an extended power outage, an alarm system can be built into the redundant power supply.

Privacy

A range of communication and home control systems via iPads and handheld devices is available. For this reason, privacy should be a primary consideration before building this technology into an SDA home.

Internet supply

An overlooked aspect during the location selection of your SDA home is the available internet connection. Under the National Broadband Network (NBN), a fibre-to-premises connection is considered to be the most reliable, however, this discussion will need to be had with NBN providers in the area you wish to build to determine what is going to be best for your NDIS investment property.

More to know about smart SDA homes

Who are SDA providers?

SDA providers are NDIS-registered individuals or organisations who facilitate the delivery of SDA-compliant homes on the market. A registered NDIS SDA provider needs to ensure that they operate to the NDIS legislation and maintain the property to the SDA rules at all times.

SDA funding

SDA funding is designed to help with an SDA property’s building and maintenance costs. The funding is assessed per NDIS participant and built into their NDIS plan. SDA payments are paid directly to an SDA provider and form part of the rental income produced from the property, alongside the reasonable rent contribution and other payments.

Investing in the National Disability Insurance Scheme

The immeasurable outcome of investing in specialist disability accommodation is the ability to enable people to access a level of independent living that is otherwise unattainable.

The SDA process is naturally more involved than investing in the standard residential market, so Apollo Investment is proud to provide a complete end-to-end investment solution to guide you through the full process.

An SDA smart home is an intelligent choice — contact Apollo Investment to learn how you can add in assistive technology above the bare minimum, to create above-average outcomes.

Get in touch with our team for more information now.

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