Homes that facilitate independence

Lauren Hart

Occupational Therapist, WA

A huge part of the last 12 months for us has been the expanded rollout of Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) in WA and supporting participants to access homes that facilitate their independence. So, it seems fitting that this year’s theme is participation, inclusion, and independence because SDA encourages so much of that; enabling participants to better achieve their goals, participate in life, have access to their independence and increase their inclusion in the community. 

As an OT and an Access Consultant I have been able to support participants from various angles as part of the SDA rollout. As a certified SDA assessor, I work with builders and developers to create spaces that are compliant to the standards, whilst simultaneously providing advice that creates a more functional home for client. This is a unique perspective that can only come from being an OT who works with the people, their supports, and the equipment that these homes need to work well for. The independence that SDA is designed to provide for participants only works when the homes people live in enable them to achieve their goals; so being able to work in the creation of those spaces has been very rewarding. 

..The independence that SDA is designed to provide for participants only works when the homes people live in enable them to achieve their goals

As an OT personally, but more significantly in a leading team of OT’s we can support participants access SDA through eligibility assessments, which is an amazing opportunity for OT’s to be directly involved in the SDA process. Having had previous experience supporting individuals in their own homes to operate more independently, through home modifications and automation, there was still many people (especially those living in residential aged care or other historical accommodation settings) who were unable to engage with their wider community, live autonomously or have a place of their own. The NDIS has provided this platform, most importantly for clients to have these choices (a challenge worth fighting for in this system) but for us as OT’s to have much more input and influence in ideal housing outcomes.


Lastly, as an OT, once a participant has been matched with suitable accommodation, we are able to work with participants to transition into that space so that they can interact with it in the best possible way. Like any big change, we all need time to get acquainted with our built environment and the community around it and OT’s are in the perfect position to be able to support participants to do that. From researching, trialling, and recommending equipment and automation, through to capacity building to support a person in using their new home or accessing their new community - the possibilities for valuable OT input are endless.

Lauren Hart

Optimal Living Therapy



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