The crucial role of Occupational Therapists in SDAAug 24, 2023
An integral figure in the realm of housing exploration and applications for individuals with disabilities, an occupational therapist plays a pivotal role in facilitating suitable living solutions. Below is an overview of the core responsibilities typically undertaken by occupational therapists specialising in this field:
Exploring diverse housing options: Occupational therapists collaborate closely with participants, support coordinators, families, and other stakeholders to meticulously explore a range of housing possibilities. This process involves evaluating the feasibility of various settings, including Specialised Disability Accommodation (SDA), supported independent living (SIL) suitability of private or government rental housing and assessing the possibility of complex home modifications, when applicable. While a substantial portion of our focus revolves around SDA exploration, it's crucial to note that arriving at an SDA outcome necessitates deliberation and consideration of alternative options. In some instances, an alternative might prove to be a better fit than SDA.
Assessing individual housing needs: Thorough assessments are a cornerstone of an occupational therapist's role, aimed at pinpointing the precise housing requirements of individuals based on their functional capabilities and support needs. Key considerations encompass participant goals, preferences, environmental need, support needs and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) legislation as it relates to participant supports. When it comes to SDA, we always address eligibility for these four things:
- SDA as a support (under extreme functional impairment or very high support needs)
- SDA as a needs requirement (what will SDA change for this person)
- Specific building type (apartment, villa, house, group home)
- Specific design category (improved liveability, robust, fully accessible, high physical support)
Guiding seamless housing transitions: Upon confirming eligibility for SDA support, occupational therapists continue their involvement with participants and their extended teams, which now include housing providers. The focus shifts toward implementing assistive technologies that participants require to thrive within their new homes. Examples of such technologies include door automation, ceiling hoists, and customised call bell systems. The aim is to ensure a seamless transition of both equipment and support services into the participant's new SDA residence.
Working in housing is such a rewarding area of OT, but it does have complexities and nuances! We've compiled our SDA and SIL knowledge into two courses:
Through these courses, we aim to empower occupational therapists with the insights and expertise needed to navigate this intricate domain effectively.