What is Supported Independent Living?

Updated: Nov 5

Having worked with both the previous ADHC-funded model of disability group homes and then the current NDIS SIL model of disability housing, I understand these two systems very well and the questions one might have who may be unfamiliar with SIL housing model.


As I talk to participants and professionals, about SIL, and can see a genuine need for people to know how things work with SIL, I thought to write this simple blog focusing on those few key questions about SIL homes, supports and the funding-related matters around SIL versus SDA and ILO type of disability housing.



SIL under NDIS

Supported independent living is a type of disability housing support under the NDIS. It is also referred to as SIL in short. SIL supports are funded by NDIA to provide support to a person with a disability based on their needs of support and may in some cases be for 24 hours a day and 7 days a week if required.


The support is provided by disability support staff based upon a roster of care that is specifically designed by a service provider, keeping in mind the unique support needs of a person with a disability. This Roster of care must be approved by NDIA so that a set amount of funding is built into your ndis plan, and the provider is paid for the support they provide.


SIL supports are provided in a home, that is owned and operated by an NDIS-registered service provider of SIL supports.


The type of dwelling chosen could range from a villa, townhouses, flat or independent free-standing house based on what is suitable to a particular person with a disability and it is staffed at a level appropriate to the needs of ndis participants living within each home.


These supports are carefully planned to assist you with everyday tasks of daily life, provided individually or in a shared living environment. These supports are aimed at developing the skills for daily living activities that would eventually build a person with a disability’s capacity to do those day-to-day tasks either on their own or with assistance.


What supports are provided in a supported independent living home?

Supports provided in these homes may include personal care, hygiene, and/or helping you to participate in community activities of your choice which otherwise without someone assisting you may be difficult for you to attend.


If you are sharing a home with other ndis participants, the number of participants living with you in such a SIL home may range from two to seven, depending upon the type and size of the home and the ratio of support approved by NDIA under your plan. Service providers much do comprehensive compatibility and other assessment to ensure that they have the capacity to provide support appropriately in a mixed environment and that the participants sharing a home can live satisfactorily together.


Am I eligible for SIL Funding?

The NDIS supports are for Australians aged 7 to 65, who have diagnosed disabilities that have affected their daily lives to the extent that they require help from another person, and/or need special equipment.


SIL funding may be provided to you if you need quite a bit of assistance to perform the tasks of daily living and are at least 18 years old. SIL could also be recommended for people with no strong community connections and informal support.


To get the Sil approval by NDIA, usually, the first step would be to speak to your Support Coordinator or Local Area Coordinator who can then speak to your ndis planner to include a housing goal in your NDIS Plan.


Your coordinator may ask and/or support you to complete a Home and Living Supports Request Form, to do a preliminary assessment if SIL is right for you and to assist you in identifying appropriate home and living supports.


Note that to get funding under the NDIS, something must be deemed reasonable and necessary by your NDIS planner.


During your planning meeting, your planner will ask you the reason why SIL funding is the most suitable option for your situation and would assess your circumstance by asking for additional documentation such as a recent occupational functional assessment report, neuro-psych assessment report, doctors report, current mental health or other hospital report are few to name.


The below steps may be able to guide you further towards getting SIL included in your plan –


  1. Assess your needs for support and whether you are eligible for SIL funding by getting an Occupational therapy functional assessment done by an OT.

  2. You can then talk to your support coordinator, who will assist you in completing the home and living exploration form and further help you find SIL providers and housing options that match your needs.

  3. Based on your support requirements, the chosen SIL provider will provide you with a quote.

  4. A change in circumstances form will be submitted to the NDIS by your support coordinator, along with other relevant supporting evidence as listed above.

  5. A review of all supporting evidence and the quotes provided by the SIL providers will be performed by the NDIS in order to determine if the supports listed are reasonable and necessary. NDIA will work directly with the SIL provider on this step.

  6. Accommodation at a SIL home can be arranged and the start date is to be set, once you are approved.


What service costs are covered under SIL?

SIL funding covers those supports that would enable you to do the daily tasks with support – so that you can become as independent as possible. These might include:

  1. Assistance with household tasks like cooking and cleaning

  2. Accessing social and community activities

  3. Personal care

  4. Travelling to and attending appointments and more

  5. Other nursing support if the provider is registered to provide such services


What services are not covered under SIL?

SIL funding does not cover groceries, rent, utilities, vehicle costs, or other daily expenses, nor does it cover travel expenses on holiday, personal care support when a person is hospitalized or items that are covered under other sections of NDIS price guide (example – assistive technology, transport, therapeutic supports)



What is the difference between SIL and SDA?

SDA also known as Specialist Disability Accommodation, is funding that covers the costs of physical infrastructure and a building that is specifically designed to be suitable to those people with a disability who have very special needs. SDA is for those ndis participants who may have a need for a specific type of dwelling due to significant functional impairment and may have a very high level of dependency to perform activities of daily living.


Being building-related funding, a developer or a builder, or a property owner would seek approval for each property they may have developed or modified, and then they would enrol it with NDIA as a registered SDA Dwelling.


SDA funding model is developed to cover the costs of housing for those people with disability who would not otherwise be able to pay for the type of specialist dwelling they would need because of their disability. People with disabilities who receive SDA funding will make up a very small percentage of NDIS participants.


So the main difference between a SIL provider and an SDA provider is that a SIL provider will supply the workers to support people in the house to assist people with disability help able to perform daily living tasks and an SDA provider will be responsible for the maintenance of the home just like a landlord or a property management company.


The below table would summarize it further -

A SIL provider

An SDA provider

Provides in-house support staff

Builds or owns the SDA home

Provides community access outside the home

Is generally who you pay your rent to

Supports residents in organizing household tasks such as cooking and cleaning

Fix and maintains the house

Manages the staff that work in the house

Helps address damage

Ensures that any complaints about the support provided are addressed

Screens workers for the house

How is ILO different from SIL?

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.


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.


NDIA believes 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.

To learn more about ILO read our full article HERE.


Need help finding a SIL provider?

There are many SIL providers around, so it can be overwhelming to select the best fit based on your needs. where to start.


You can benefit by speaking to your support coordinator who can not only help you find the right SIL provider for you but could also assist to guide you through the entire process of contacting and setting up your SIL-related paperwork, getting it ready for you to move into your new SIL home.