SDA Quality Indicators: Implications for Providers

The recent flow of SDA policy updates has continued with last week's release of the NDIS' National Quality Indicators.

The Quality and Safeguarding Quality Indicators for SDA are listed in Part 8 – Module 5: SDA and Schedule 7 of NDIS (Provider Registration and Practice Standards) Rule 2018, which outlines the relevant practice standards.

Overall, the requirements seem strong, with the most notable change being that, as of 1 July 2018, the Commission will be responsible for registration of SDA providers and SDA properties in line with the new requirements, where previously this work was undertaken by the NDIA.

The main requirements for an SDA provider will be the same as those for all other providers of NDIS supports and they are captured within the core module of the Quality Indicators (for an overview of this module, see Sneak Peek at the NDIS Practice Standards)

There will be more information forthcoming over the coming weeks and months as we interpret the information in more detail, however, for now here are some of the key themes that will form the heart of compliance policies and procedures:

  • Person centred supports

  • Individual values and beliefs

  • Privacy and Dignity

  • Independence and Informed choice

  • Violence, Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation and Discrimination

SDA providers will be required to enter into formal tenancy agreements with participants and also have in place a quality system including policies and procedures with audits to occur. It appears that there is now a greater reliance for the tenancy agreements to align with relevant state based residential tenancy legislation as well as containing a list of minimum requirements for SDA (if the relevant state legislation does not already contain the items).

Of particular interest to many providers will be that it appears that there is no enforcement of SDA and SIL provider separation at this time. The information outlines the requirements to manage (rather than avoid) conflicts of interest and to protect the participants right to stay within SDA and have freedom to choose their SIL (and other) provider(s).


New SDA rule

The Rule has been updated to reference the new Quality and Safeguarding policy. However, there is also one other change that stands out. In Section 22, where the Rule outlines the requirements for a dwelling to be considered existing stock, it states that

(f)  all of the dwelling’s shared areas and the majority of its bedrooms and similar sized private rooms comply or substantially comply with the relevant minimum requirements in the SDA Design Category Requirements Guidelines for a design category other than basic design.

If this change is intentional, it seems to preclude the registration of any existing stock in the basic category. This would mean many existing properties used for disability accommodation will not be able to be registered for SDA. This hopefully is an oversight that the NDIA and/or the Commission will rectify. The Rule can be found here:

My initial thoughts on all the information provided is that it has a strong focus on protecting participants' human rights, especially choice and control. It seems that this new information may even make it harder for the NDIA to restrict the number of participants living alone in SDA, which would be a very welcome change indeed.