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What the heck are Individualised Living Options?

Promoting choice through Individualised Approaches.

Written by
Dan McCutcheon

Understanding the NDIS and the ILO model

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has revolutionised the way individuals with disabilities access support and services in Australia. In keeping with the transformative principles of the NDIS lies the Individualising Living Options (ILO) model, a person-centred approach that empowers participants to take control of their lives and live independently (with support) in the community.

As an experienced NDIS support coordinator, I've had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the profound impact the ILO model can have on the lives of individuals with high support needs. Through service-design focusing on the unique needs of each person, the ILO model enables NDIS participants to tailor their living arrangements, support structures, and daily routines to align with their preferences and life purpose.

Two of the more common ILO Models include:

  1. Co-residency; live-in support and compassion in the NDIS participant’s own home. 
  2. Host arrangement; Live-in support and companionship in someone else’s home.

It’s important to note that these are not the only two options available which is in essence the entire point of taking an individualised approach to develop an ILO. Even a co-residency or a host arrangement could and will look vastly different from one person to the next as no two people are the same.

The importance of person-centred support in the NDIS

The NDIS is founded on the principle of person-centred support, which means that the individual's needs, preferences, and aspirations are at the forefront of the planning and implementation process. The ILO model exemplifies this approach, ensuring that each participant's voice is heard and their unique circumstances are not only taken into account but put first and foremost at the heart of support design.

Through the ILO framework, providers work closely with participants to understand their desired lifestyle, support requirements, and long-term goals. This collaborative process allows them to develop a customised service plan that aligns with their vision for independent living, empowering people to make informed choices and take an active role in shaping their own future.

Approach vs. Model

In the context of NDIS ILOs, understanding the distinction between 'model' and 'approach' is crucial. A 'model' typically refers to a predefined framework that outlines specific methods and structures for delivering support. Conversely, an 'approach' encompasses a broader, more flexible philosophy or strategy that can be tailored to individual needs. When designing unique, tailored bespoke support arrangements through person-centred planning for people with disabilities and their families, focusing on an 'approach' rather than being constrained by a 'model' will achieve better outcomes for people with disabilities.

An 'approach' allows for creativity and adaptability, ensuring that support is dynamic and responsive to the evolving needs and aspirations of the individual as they move through different stages of life. This flexibility is essential for enabling people with disabilities to enjoy a quality of life that is both fulfilling and adaptable. Although the Individualised Living Option framework was created by the NDIA to capture innovative housing and support solutions within specific funding parameters, it is the person-centred individualised ‘approach' that ultimately empowers individuals to live out their life purpose.

Benefits of an Individualised Approach

The ILO model offers a range of benefits that can significantly enhance the quality of life for NDIS participants. By tailoring support and living arrangements to individual needs, the ILO approach fosters greater independence, autonomy, and community integration.

Participants are able to:

  1. Choose their living environment: Whether it's a shared house, a private rental, or purchasing their own home, an individualised approach enables participants to select the living arrangement that best suits their preferences and lifestyle.
  2. Customise their support network: Participants can choose the type and level of support they require, whether it's assistance with daily tasks, social engagement, or skill development. This flexibility ensures that the support aligns with their unique needs.
  3. Achieve their personal goals: The individualised approach encourages participants to identify and work towards their unique aspirations, whether it's securing employment, pursuing further education, making connections, or engaging in passions and activities.
  4. Enhance social inclusion: By facilitating greater independence and community involvement people can build stronger social connections, fostering a sense of belonging and reducing the risk of isolation.
  5. Promote personal growth: The approach empowers participants to develop essential life skills, build confidence, and take on more responsibility, ultimately leading to personal growth and a heightened sense of self-determination and efficacy. 

How Support Coordination plays a crucial role in designing and implementing an ILO

As support coordinators, we can play a pivotal role in the successful implementation of the ILO model through taking an individualised approach. Some of our primary responsibilities are to work closely with participants to understand their unique needs, preferences, and goals, and then to work with the ILO service provider to develop a tailored plan that aligns with the ILO framework.

This involves assisting participants in navigating the NDIS system, identifying suitable housing and support options, and coordinating the various services and providers required to bring their vision for independent living to fruition. We can guide participants through the process and ensure that their needs are met with the utmost care and attention every step of the way.

The key principles of an Individualised Approach

The ILO model is underpinned by an individualised approach and several key principles that guide the delivery of support and services:

  1. ‘Person-centredness’ (if this isn’t a real word it should be!) : The ILO model places the participant at the centre of the planning and decision-making process, ensuring that their unique needs, preferences, and aspirations are the driving force behind the support provided.
  2. Flexible and individualised: The ILO model is designed to be highly adaptable, allowing participants to tailor their living arrangements, support networks, and daily routines to suit their specific requirements and evolving needs over time.
  3. Promoting independence: The ultimate goal of the ILO model is to empower participants to live independently, make informed choices, and take an active role in their own lives, fostering a greater sense of autonomy and self-determination.
  4. Collaborative partnerships: The ILO model emphasises the importance of working collaboratively with participants, their families, and a network of service providers to ensure a cohesive and comprehensive support system.
  5. Continuous improvement: The ILO model is committed to ongoing monitoring, evaluation, and refinement, ensuring that the support provided remains relevant, effective, and responsive to the changing needs of participants.

Assessing individual needs and tailoring support in the ILO framework

At the heart of the ILO model is a comprehensive assessment process that delves into the unique needs, preferences, and goals of each participant. As a Support Coordinator, I work closely with participants to gain a deep understanding of their current living situation, support requirements, and aspirations for the future.

This assessment process involves:

  1. Identifying personal goals and priorities: We engage in in-depth discussions to uncover the participant's desired lifestyle, long-term objectives, and the steps they wish to take to achieve greater independence. This includes our Circle SC ‘Housing Vision Builder’. 
  2. Assessing current support needs: We evaluate the participant's existing support network, daily routines, and any challenges they face in maintaining their independence, ensuring that the ILO plan addresses these specific needs.
  3. Exploring housing and living options: We collaborate with participants to explore a range of living arrangements, from shared accommodation to independent living, and determine the option that best aligns with their preferences and support requirements. This may be the point where an individualised home and living provider becomes involved as part of these discussion. 
  4. Developing a tailored support plan: Drawing on the insights gathered during the assessment process, we work with participants to create a detailed ILO plan that outlines the specific support services, resources, and strategies needed to facilitate their desired level of independence.
  5. Ongoing monitoring and adjustment: We continuously monitor the participant's progress, gather feedback, and make adjustments to the ILO model as needed, ensuring that the support remains relevant and effective over time.

Conclusion: Empowering individuals through NDIS ILO support options

The Individualising Living Options (ILO) model within the NDIS framework is a powerful tool for empowering individuals with disabilities to live independent, fulfilling lives. By placing the participant at the centre of the support process and tailoring solutions to their unique needs and aspirations, an individualised approach unlocks a world of possibilities, fostering greater autonomy, community integration, and personal growth.

As a Support Coordinator, I have witnessed firsthand the transformative impact the ILO model can have on the lives of NDIS participants. Through collaborative partnerships, in-depth conversations and the delivery of high-quality support services, people with disabilities can achieve independence and a higher quality of life.

If you are interested in exploring the benefits of the ILO model and an individualised approach, please feel free to reach out to us through the website www.circlesc.com.au or via email support@circlesc.com.au and we will be happy to point you in the right direction.

Promoting choice through Individualised Approaches.
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