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What is Individual living options (ILO) in NDIS?

Updated: Jun 4, 2023

ILO is NDIS-funded support aimed at giving total choice and control to people with disability, to live in a dwelling with who they choose to live and whichever they wish to live. No seriously, not just in theory but actually in the practical world.

ILO was added by NDIA to the price guide in June 2020.

ILO model of living is more person-centric than ndis supported independent living model. Relationships are at the centre front in ILO, which is very different from the conventional SIL model of housing; where rostered care is provided by paid support staff 24/7. Hence, much of an emphasis in the ILO type of arrangement would be to have informal care provided to the participant by friends or family or by someone willing to live and support someone with a disability by choice and in a friendly way. It is believed that such arrangements can bring more quality to a person’s life, allowing an opportunity for people with a disability to live an ordinary life.

Since I have heard, read, and have started to build our capacity as a team, to deliver ILO, I feel there is something very magical about this model, as I can see the value it may bring to the life of a person with a disability.

I know the question that is popping into your head at this moment. Perhaps all sorts of questions such as – can this be real? Or is it sustainable? Or is it safe at all?

And I get that, our cynism toward models like ILO is natural and can be resulting from our perception of seeing support provision as mostly a paid role, where services per hour are exchanged at an award level rate.

However, no matter how cynical it may sound, if done correctly and with persistence, I visualize that it can bring rich outcomes for a person with a disability, building their independence and capacity. We have heard and learned from some Organisations successfully doing it and are constantly getting better at it, serving more and more people with a disability and achieving quality outcomes for life.

Certainly, there may be risks associated with ILO, as it is with any service provision, but that needs to be managed. Because of the uniqueness of each ILO design, there may be a whole lot of other issues, that are new to such unconventional arrangements as ILO and hence may require thorough and in-depth planning at the initial stages of the ILO design process.

Once set up, It may further require a lot of fine-tuning and some form of ongoing monitoring. But one very important thing is the initial conversation and communication with the people involved, about what is expected, including the extent of work and the amount of trial and error involved.

Let us agree, that ILO is a fairly new concept for most of us, and is hoped that the model will become more acceptable as time progresses with more and more participants and organizations coming along to trial it.

So how did NDIA think about ILO?

Well, the answer to its emergence seems to be in a report published in October 2014. The report that is titled “Reasonable and Necessary Support across the Lifespan: An Ordinary Life for People with Disability” was made by Independent Advisory Council. The paper takes an ‘ordinary life’ in 21st century multicultural Australia as its starting point.

Council hoped that this document will be used:

  • by the NDIA in its ongoing development of the Scheme

  • by participants in conceptualizing their goals and aspirations

  • as part of conversations with mainstream service providers about how they can assist people with disability to achieve an ordinary life, and

  • as an educational tool for the broader Australian community about the role and purpose of the NDIS.

Regarding scheme design, the report had some serious recommendations guiding NDIA to shape the future of the scheme and to enable people with disability to live an ordinary life. The paper did put great emphasis on ordinary life and described enablers of ordinary life.

Stressing on Independence, the paper referred to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD); emphasizing that independence for people with a disability is not just limited to traditional models of care however it is much broader. The report highlighted some key enablers for a good ordinary life. and includes -

  • positive relationships

  • a sense of belonging

  • individual autonomy

  • active involvement in decision making

  • active engagement in the physical, social, economic, and cultural community

  • using our unique strengths in ways that provide a challenge, and

  • making a contribution.

These are the features of a good life that come from things and experiences in life that ‘money can’t buy,

For reading enthusiasts, the full report can be read from the link here

Hence it is this report that may have pushed the agency to put in needed efforts to innovate the so-called reasonable and necessary supports, thereby leading to this ILO type model.


Individual Living Options – Design your Home on your terms and your Choice

ILO process is principally divided into two main stages. Exploration stage and a design/implementation stage.

Exploration Stage -

This stage could be intense, requiring enormous discussion and brainstorming with the participant and family and other people involved. This stage facilitates exploring the vision of the participant for their future home and helps all involved to understand the full range of options as to how a participant can be supported in the community.

The exploration stage is exploring all possible options, based on a participant’s strength, and what he or she is capable of doing in conjunction with the support offered by a mix of formal, informal, and community supports, leading to a successful individualistic model of living.

Hence this stage covers detailed aspects of where does a participant may wish to live, who to live with, and how he or she needs to be supported.

Of course, comprehensive risk assessments to eliminate or reduce all odds are a crucial part of the exploration stage and in fact, must be at the center stage of the planning process.

Design Stage –

This stage entails the implementation of tangible ideas and strategies mapped out in the early exploration stage.

The time and input required for both stages are unique for each participant and cannot be templated. In short no cookie-cutter approach. Most importantly the intensiveness of the process is driven by several factors including the type of living required by the person, other support requirements, and the network of people around him or her who are willing to support them.

It is during this stage that the provider will have to consider ongoing monitoring for the ILO proposed. Higher the risks will be the ongoing monitoring.


A service provider would have to produce a quotation to NDIA; based on the inputs or efforts a service provider is perceiving for an individual participant.

Just like most NDIS supports, the funding is an aggregate of the number of hours required/quoted by a provider to design an ILO. The hourly rates are the same as that of support coordination level 2 funding. The quoting template for ILO is available from the link here


Co-Residency – The participant has a home and chooses a support person or a friend / informal carer to live with the participant in the home full-time or part-time. This person provides an agreed level of personal or community support to the participant. Depending on the type and degree of support provided, payment or reimbursement is negotiated.

Host Arrangements – The participant is to live within the home of a non-related host or a supporting family, providing full-time support in a family environment. The host provides agreed disability-related support, including household and emotional support as and when required in a family environment. The host is paid a reimbursement from the support plan.

Living Alone – The participant resides in their own home with a variety of support provided to meet their changing needs. These include roster shifts, another form of formal or informal support by people within the participant’s network.

Living Together – The person resides in their own home with people of their choice (with or without disability) and obtains support. No financial or other benefits are provided to the other people living in the home unless both residents receive support as participants. In such a situation, there may be a sharing of some support.

So, there are many forms of Individual Living Options, or it could be a mix of one or more of the above types. The aim is to design a living arrangement that can provide participants with a true alternative to congregate models of living. In addition to a reduction of dependence on the Scheme on SIL, participants wishing to leave SIL arrangements will find ILO a good choice.

As part of providing increased funding choices to people with disability, NDIS provides Individual Living Options (ILO) as a flexible package of support. The participant is in assisted independent living and is not a 24/7 paid support. The funding focuses on the individual and their family, to recognize their needs and choices in building living arrangements to help the individual live with more inclusiveness.

The ILO package of funding consists of two levels implemented in phases and consists of a primary support approach and supplementary support. Once the package is implemented, there is close monitoring and improvements of the living establishment, on an ongoing and a need basis.

Who has the suitability for ILO?

ILO certainly cannot be for everyone because it is not a straightforward model as SIL. I see that it is a two-way approach where a person with a disability and their family must be prepared and be open to trying new things, be enthusiastic, and be patient while the service provider is putting in the efforts to develop and implement a model, which will ultimately lead to a brilliant outcome as per the participant's vision of living.

I see it as a journey and an exploration of a participant's vision of a perfect life. Initial stages may involve intense brainstorming, and people involved must have the tolerance to ongoing changes, until it is near perfect, all set and steady.

I am sure, having read the about, you still might have a lot of questions that need to be answered. So, we have also worked on a Q&A type of information for you and we expect that may be more helpful in building your understanding of the uniqueness of ILO.

Written by Shoeb Patel (Founder - ELS)

ELS Disability Services - Western Sydney, Australia | Ph: 1300 323 399 |


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