3 minute read

Designed for Independence: A Guide to Improved Liveability Homes in SDA

Adam Wyatt
Updated On
June 18, 2024

Picture a world where your home isn't just a place you live, but a place that anticipates your needs and supports your independence. This isn't science fiction; it's the reality of Improved Liveability in Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA).

At Vertika, we understand that navigating the NDIS and finding the right SDA home can feel like an overwhelming task. Are you new to the different design categories and unsure which is the right one for you? It’s time to change that. Today, we're diving deep into Improved Liveability; a perfect accommodation solution for many NDIS participants. So, grab a cuppa, settle in, and let's unlock a world of possibility.

Improved Liveability: A Tailored Approach to Accessible Living

Improved Liveability is one of four design categories within the NDIS SDA framework. It signifies a home designed with thoughtful design features that enhance accessibility and cater to sensory, intellectual, or cognitive impairment. It goes beyond basic accessibility, aiming to create an environment that promotes independence and a sense of belonging.

Think of it this way: a standard home might have doorways, but an Improved Liveability home ensures those doorways are wide enough for wheelchairs, have easy-grip handles, and perhaps even open electronically. Voila!  

Improved Liveability is all about considering the most important design details and tailoring them for a more comfortable and fulfilling lifestyle.

Improved Liveability Design Features

If you’re wondering what Improved Liveability looks like in practice, it’s handy to unpack the specifics. Here are some common design features you might find in an Improved Liveability SDA home:

Physical Accessibility

There are often wider doorways, ramps instead of stairs, grab bars in bathrooms, and lower benchtops in kitchens. These features empower residents who use wheelchairs or have physical access limitations.

Sensory Enhancements

Imagine having dimmable lights to manage light sensitivity, high-contrast colour schemes with improved luminance contrasts for visual recognition, or even textured flooring for better spatial awareness. Improved Liveability incorporates these elements to create an environment that's either calming or stimulating for people with sensory processing difficulties.

Cognitive and Intellectual Support

Clear signage, consistent layouts with predictable fixture placements, and assistive technology like voice-activated controls are all common design details. These features provide invaluable support for people living with intellectual or cognitive impairment, promoting independence and reducing the likelihood of confusion.

Safety and Security

Emergency call systems, smoke alarms with flashing lights and vibration alerts, and automatic door locks are often included, These features can help to create a safe haven for people who might require additional support in emergency situations.

The Benefits of Living in an Improved Liveability Home

But beyond the practicalities, why are the design features of an Improved Liveability home so important? There are a few important reasons to factor in. Let’s break them down one by one.  

Firstly, by addressing accessibility and sensory needs, Improved Liveability homes empower residents to navigate their homes with greater ease. This promotes a sense of accomplishment and boosts confidence.    

Secondly, a thoughtfully designed Improved Liveability home can reduce stress and anxiety. Imagine the frustration of struggling to open a door or feeling dazzled and overwhelmed by bright lights. Improved Liveability features alleviate these anxieties, creating a calmer and more manageable environment.

Last, but certainly not least, when people feel comfortable, supported and safe in their own homes, they're more likely to relax and engage with the people around them. In this way, an Improved Livability home can create the conditions for a much fuller and more enjoyable social life.

Who Can Benefit from an Improved Liveability home?

Improved Liveability can make a world of difference to people living with a diverse range of disabilities. Here are some examples:

Vision Impairment

Features like contrasting colours, good lighting control with adjustable light levels, and tactile floor markings can significantly improve navigation and safety.

Mobility Impairment

Wider doorways, ramps, grab bars, and accessible kitchens and bathrooms empower residents to move around their home with greater ease.

Intellectual Disability

Clear signage, predictable layouts, and assistive technology can significantly reduce confusion and promote independent living.

What Other SDA Design Categories Does the NDIS Offer?

It's important to note that Improved Liveability is one of several design categories within SDA. While Improved Liveability focuses on a reasonable level of physical access and sensory and cognitive support, the other three categories are designed to meet other specific needs.  

To clarify the key differences, it's useful to compare all four categories side-by-side.

The Four Categories of SDA Homes

  1. Improved Liveability: Designed with thoughtful features to enhance accessibility and to meet sensory, intellectual, or cognitive needs. Think wider doorways, clear signage, and adjustable lighting.
  2. Fully Accessible: Offers the highest level of physical access for residents with functional impairment and significant mobility limitations. Features may include ceiling hoists, wider doorways, and accessible bathrooms.
  3. High Physical Support: Designed for individuals with very high physical needs. Features may include home automation systems, backup power supplies, and specialist equipment like hoists.
  4. Robust: Built with extra durability and strong materials to minimise the risk of damage and create a safe environment for residents who might require additional support with managing behaviours.

Understanding the Standards for Improved Liveability Homes

While we can't delve into every specific requirement here, the key document outlining the standards for Improved Liveability, and indeed all SDA design categories, is the NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation Design Standard.  

This document details the minimum requirements for each element of an SDA home and is referred to by SDA providers to ensure an Improved Liveability home meets the accessibility standards for the NDIS SDA program.

The SDA Design Standard also requires an accredited third-party SDA assessor to approve an SDA property at the design stage and the final as-built stage, confirming it has met all the requirements.

Searching for Improved Liveability Accommodation?

At Vertika, we understand that navigating the NDIS and finding the right SDA home can feel overwhelming. Perhaps you're unsure of the different design categories or which one best fits your needs. Vertika is here to be your guide.  

With our specialist property expertise and deep understanding of living with disabilities, Vertika strives to match every participant with the perfect home every time.  

Talk to a friendly member of our team today and discover the Vertika difference.

Adam Wyatt
Updated On
June 18, 2024
Adam Wyatt is a content writer at Vertika and is a subject matter expert of the NDIS space. He holds a doctorate in media and film studies and is an advocate for human centred content that makes a difference in people’s lives.
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