22 October 2021
A decade ago, the Australian Government commissioned its independent advisory body, the Productivity Commission, to review the provision of long-term care and support for people with a severe or profound disability.
The Commission found that the existing support system gave people with disability little choice and no certainty of access to appropriate supports. It highlighted how a systematic lack of independent, supported accommodation was not best serving the needs of individuals with significant care and support needs.
It found that as a result, an unacceptably high proportion of people had little to no choice outside of living in accommodation unsuitable for their significant care and support needs, including in residential aged care or nursing homes despite their young age, living at home with elderly parents, or in unsuitable public housing.
Summer Housing was established in 2017 with an ambitious mission to expand the range and scale of housing options available to people with disability and currently living in or at risk of admission to residential aged care – particularly younger people.
Working with stakeholders, supporters and partners such as Macquarie, it has acted as a pioneer for the rollout of SDA and commissioned over 300 residences since inception.
Acting CEO Queenie Tran – who has over a decade’s experience in architecture and access consulting, specialising in residential design and tailored solutions for accessibility – says Summer Housing’s premise is about providing the right housing and support in the best locations to increase a person’s quality of life and independence, while reducing lifetime care costs.
“There has long been a lack of understanding as to the role that housing plays in allowing people with disability to live both independently and as part of the community. SDA finally allows for high-quality accommodation that has been designed to increase an individual’s self-sufficiency and is integrated into a broader residential development, giving residents independence and a much higher quality of life.”
Tran says that the scheme’s market-driven nature and the coming together of the not-for-profit and commercial sectors to really understand what the shared outcomes are have been a core component of its success. And that has delivered the best possible accommodation in a way that provides commercial value for both providers, partners and governments.
“The NDIS has given people the ability to consider what their own needs and preferences are, and to be able to go to the market and push for suitable accommodation that meets those needs. What has been especially interesting to see is the exchange between participants and the market in driving those outcomes.
“The SDA scheme specifically has been revolutionary for people with disability and complex care needs, because it’s not about building something and retrospectively making it work for them, rather it’s about creating properties that you and I would live in, but with the additional needs of those with severe disability taken into account at the development stage.
“Our developments are getting so much interest from individuals wanting a better lifestyle – because we’re building the right properties in locations people want to live in, and in the communities they are personally associated with, in some cases have spent their lives in.”
Working with Macquarie and other partners has allowed the coming together of partners with individual strengths to achieve a common goal, says Tran. And, accordingly, the SDA model has been proven.
“We have successfully scaled and demonstrated the ongoing viability and future potential of SDA. Its success has made it a lot more acute for people to recognise that disability housing isn’t a typical asset, and the potential for it to be an infrastructure asset as opposed to standard residential stock is absolutely there.”
More importantly, Tran says the impact it’s had on people’s lives has been even more substantial.
“It has already generated life-changing outcomes for thousands of people who were living in hospitals and aged care facilities, providing them with a level of independence that many of the previous and historical housing models never did.
“Prior to the NDIS – and SDA specifically – people would never have thought it possible for some of those individuals living in residential age care to come back into the community and live among their family and friends; there was nothing available for them. Together, we have made something people thought was impossible happen over the short space of about four-and-a-half years.”
‘Specialist Disability Accommodation Pricing and Payments Framework’, Australian Government, Department of Social Services, June 2020, https://www.dss.gov.au/
Andrew Beer, Kathleen Flanagan, Julia Verdouw et al., ‘Understanding Specialist Disability Accommodation funding’, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, 21 March 2019, https://www.ahuri.edu.au/
‘National Disability Insurance Scheme (Specialist Disability Accommodation) Rules 2016’ (Cth), Australian Government, 27 March 2019, https://www.legislation.gov.au/
‘NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation: Pathway to a mature market’, PWC and Summer Foundation, August 2017, https://www.summerfoundation.org.au/
‘Specialist Disability Accommodation: Market insights’, SGS Economics and Planning and Summer Foundation, 2018, https://www.summerfoundation.org.au/
1. ‘Disability Care and Support’, Productivity Commission, Report no. 54, 31 July 2011, https://www.pc.gov.au/
2. ‘Disability Care and Support’, Productivity Commission, Report no. 54, 31 July 2011, https://www.pc.gov.au/
3. ‘Disability Care and Support’, Productivity Commission, Report no. 54, 31 July 2011, https://www.pc.gov.au/
4. ‘Disability Care and Support’, Productivity Commission, Report no. 54, 31 July 2011, https://www.pc.gov.au/
5. ‘Governments take action to increase Specialist Disability Accommodation’, NDIS, 8 February 2019, https://www.ndis.gov.au/
6. ‘NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation: Pathway to a mature market’, PWC and Summer Foundation, August 2017, https://www.summerfoundation.org.au/
7. ‘Specialist Disability Accommodation: Position Paper on Draft Pricing and Payment (April 2016)’, NDIA, 1 April 2016, https://apo.org.au/
8. ‘NDIS Quarterly Report to disability ministers’ (2020-21 Q4), NDIS, 30 June 2021, https://www.ndis.gov.au/