What Is the Difference Between SIL and SDA?

Supported Independent Living (SIL) and Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) are two disability support services that help people with disabilities live more independently. However, there are a number of variations between them.

SIL is a person-centred approach aimed at helping those with high care needs to live in their own homes, while SDA refers to specialist housing solutions for those with acute functional impairment or very high support requirements. Knowing the difference can assist individuals with disabilities, their families, and support staff in choosing the best housing and support options available.

We offer top-notch SIL services that foster independence among disabled individuals at Advanced Disability Management, Cairns disability services. In this article, we will delve deeper into SIL versus SDA outlining the key differences as well as considerations for each one.

What is Supported Independent Living (SIL)?

Supported Independent Living, commonly referred to as SIL, is a person-centered support model that assists people with disabilities to live independently in their own homes. SIL provides flexible support based on individual needs, preferences, and goals.

The key features of SIL include:

  • Person-centred support – SIL is tailored to the individual’s needs and preferences. The level of support varies based on what the person requires to maintain their independence.
  • Flexible support – SIL provides support on an ‘as needed’ basis. Support hours can be increased or decreased as the person’s needs change over time.
  • Delivered in the person’s own home – SIL support workers come into the person’s own home to provide assistance. The home is owned or rented by a person with a disability.
  • Focus on maximizing independence – The goal of SIL is to empower individuals to be as independent as possible in their own homes and community.
  • 24/7 availability – SIL providers have support workers available around the clock to meet any needs that arise.

SIL enables people with high care needs, such as quadriplegia, acquired brain injury, or intellectual disability, to live independently rather than in institutional or group home settings.

The types of support provided may include personal care, domestic assistance, social support, skill development, transportation, and assistance with daily tasks. SIL can be funded through various government programs. At, Advanced Disability Management, we offer all the disability services Cairns.

What is Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)?

Specialist Disability Accommodation, or SDA, refers to specialist housing solutions for people with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs. SDA aims to provide accessible, well-designed housing configured to meet those needs.

The key features of SDA include:

  • Specialist housing design – SDA properties contain design features to enhance accessibility and meet complex support needs. This may include hoists, ceiling tracks, wheelchair access, assistive technology, and other modifications.
  • For people with extreme needs – SDA is intended for people with very high support requirements, such as those who are permanently unable to weight bear or have significant behavioral issues.
  • Funded separately – The accommodation and support are funded separately under the NDIS. Participants pay rent for the SDA dwelling using their own income.
  • Owned by providers – SDA dwellings are owned or managed by disability service providers or investors, not the residents themselves. The SDA provider is responsible for housing maintenance and modifications.
  • Often congregate or grouped settings – SDA properties are often co-located, with 2 or more dwellings clustered together and shared supports. Some are standalone properties.
  • Tenancy rights – Residents have formal tenancy rights and agreements with the SDA provider landlord. Protections against unlawful eviction apply.

SDA is suitable for the small percentage of NDIS participants with extreme support needs who require specialist housing solutions. SDA provides an alternative to aged care or hospital settings. If you are looking for disability services Queensland Cairns, you can contact us anytime at Advanced Disability Management.

Key Differences Between SIL and SDA

While both SIL and SDA aim to assist people with disabilities, there are some notable differences:

Housing Tenure

Supported Independent Living (SIL) offers people with disabilities a chance to live in a home they own or rent. As such, such individuals have full housing rights and responsibilities as tenants or homeowners.

However, Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) concerns the renting of dwellings owned and managed by SDA providers. Consequently, it means that it is not the disabled person but rather the provider who will be a landlord and property manager. Hence SDA residents do not hold the housing tenure and must abide by tenancy agreements with the SDA provider who owns the property.

Level of Support Needs

SIL can meet different support needs ranging from minimal to very high levels of assistance required. This means that hours and types of assistance may be changed in accordance with particular needs for assistance for an individual person’s support needs.

Conversely, because SDA focuses on individuals who have severe functional impairments requiring highly specialized kinds of housing that cannot be suited by high-intensity SIL supports, its main focus is much narrower than that of SIL.

It aims at those persons whose needs are so complex that they are permanently non-weight bearing or those who exhibit significant behavioural problems that require specially designed environments.

Funding Sources

Various sources finance SIL support services including state government budgets, federal funding, and NDIS grants among others. This contrasts sharply with how SDA is almost exclusively funded through NDIS-approved SDA payments. Additional costs associated with specialty accommodation can be covered through NDIS payments if someone qualifies for them. Yet SIL does not rely on NDIA funds alone.

Housing Design

Because SIL offers support within a person’s own mainstream dwelling there are no modifications or design features funded by SIL in respect to this dwelling type. Any home modification needed is done by the individual themselves since they are responsible for it themselves if there is any need for one.. On the other hand, SDA designs dwellings incorporating specialist features and modifications to improve accessibility and address complex support needs. Funds for these housing adaptations come from SDA.

Service Provision

SIL providers’ role is in service delivery through staffing and coordination. They do not provide housing or tenancy management services. However, SDA providers offer both adapted housing and tenancy management for their residents so they provide both the property and the supporting services.

Congregate vs Individual Housing

A key aspect of SIL is facilitating independent living on an individual basis, with the person living alone in their own home. Conversely, many instances of SDA involve clustered or congregate models of housing; whereby 2+ SDA dwellings have been brought together in a single site while some common supports are shared by tenants. Thus, rather than being based on individual housing, SDA emphasizes group and shared living arrangements.


It can be advantageous to adopt SIL as it allows for adjustments to be made in terms of hours and types of support as one’s needs evolve over time. Consequently, SIL can grow or shrink accordingly.

While there are instances when the person’s support needs will vary significantly; this implies that SDA offers a fixed specialist housing solution that cannot accommodate changes in a person’s support needs very well. This results in SDA providing stable specialized housing.


SIL focuses on rendering high-quality individualized support services that enable people with disabilities to live more independently and participate in their communities. SDA’s focus is the provision of accessible housing rather than support services. While SIL is responsible for providing appropriate support, SDA ensures clients have appropriate housing.

What is Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)?

When choosing between SIL and SDA, it is important to consider:

  • Level of functional ability and support needs
  • Desire for individual housing versus congregate living
  • Access to appropriate housing – renting, owning, modifications
  • Funding available and sources – NDIS vs other programs
  • Tenancy rights and responsibilities
  • Ongoing flexibility and adjustment of support over time

For many, SIL can provide the right level of support to maximize independence. For those with more complex needs that cannot be met even with very high levels of SIL support, SDA homes with specialist design may be the most suitable option.

Professional assessments, support coordination assistance, and careful planning can help determine if SIL or SDA is better suited. The individual’s goals, preferences, and needs should drive the housing and support options.

SIL Support from Advanced Disability Management

At Advanced Disability Management, we provide high-quality Supported Independent Living services that are tailored to each individual. Our person-centered services assist people with disabilities to live independently in their own home. If you are looking for disability organisations near me, we can be the best fit for you or your loved ones.

We offer 24/7 availability of support workers and can accommodate even very high support needs. Our SIL services include:

  • Personal care and assistance with daily tasks
  • Domestic assistance and home management
  • Transportation and community access
  • Social, recreational, and civic participation
  • Development of daily living and life skills
  • Advocacy and support coordination

Our dedicated support workers develop close relationships with participants to provide caring, compassionate, and empowering assistance. We are a trusted NDIS Providers Cairns.

With flexible SIL support from Advanced Disability Management, individuals with a disability can successfully transition out of institutions into their own homes. We are committed to maximizing independence so people can live full, meaningful lives.


People with disabilities can live on their own through Supported Independent Living and Specialist Disability Accommodation. The support offered by SIL is adaptable, and it occurs within the confines of the individual’s residence. SDA delivers housing that is wholly accessible to people who have extreme functional impairments.

While SDA caters to those who require specialized accommodation, SIL accommodates a larger number of individuals requiring extensive care. Given good SIL assistance from service providers like Advanced Disability Management, persons with disability are able to live independently in their own homes and achieve self-fulfilment.

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