Designing the outdoor areas of SDA robust housing requires a thoughtful and inclusive approach that caters to the diverse needs of its residents. These outdoor spaces are vital in enhancing the overall quality of life for Australians with disability.
From accessible pathways and sensory gardens to communal gathering areas, every aspect must be carefully considered to promote inclusivity, engagement, and a sense of belonging. This article provides some tips for designing SDA robust housing outdoor areas.
What is a robust SDA?
A robust specialist disability accommodation (SDA) property refers to a type of housing designed and built specifically to cater to the high support needs of its residents. SDA properties are designed to provide a high level of support and accessibility, enabling individuals with disability to live more independently and enhance their quality of life.
The term “robust” in this context implies that the property is designed to withstand the demands of individuals with complex support needs. It means the property incorporates features and modifications that make it durable, resilient, and capable of accommodating a wide range of disabilities and assistive equipment.
What are the other design categories?
SDA properties are classified into different design categories based on the specific needs they address. The SDA Design Category pertains to the level of support provided within the property.
There are four design categories in the SDA framework:
Improved Liveability: Properties in this category provide a suitable living environment for people with physical and sensory challenges but without requiring specialist design features. These properties are typically wheelchair accessible and have basic accessibility features.
Fully Accessible: Fully accessible properties are specifically designed for people with physical and sensory disabilities, providing enhanced accessibility features. They may include features like wider doorways, accessible bathrooms, and modified kitchens to facilitate independent living.
Robust: Properties in the robust design category are designed for people with high support needs who experience complex behaviours. The robust design incorporates more specialised features and is built using inconspicuous materials such as reinforced walls with high-impact wall lining, laminated glass, secure windows and doors, hoists, ceiling-mounted tracking systems, and other modifications necessary to accommodate individuals with complex behaviours.
The robust design intends to minimise risk and avoid harm to the resident, as well as other residents and SDA service providers.
High Physical Support: Properties in this category are designed for individuals with very high support needs. They have extensive modifications and features, including significant structural changes to accommodate complex support requirements, such as ceiling-mounted hoists, specialised bathrooms, and advanced assistive technology.
Things to consider when building the outdoor space of a robust SDA home
Adequate space is essential under the robust SDA design standard. Here are some things to consider when designing the outdoor space.
Enhancing Outdoor Space
When it comes to designing outdoor areas, it is crucial to prioritise creating a sense of spaciousness and tranquillity — a retreat for the resident. If feasible, consider incorporating a variety of outdoor zones, including some covered spaces (you may be able to utilise the property’s front, back, and side areas to achieve this).
You may also consider simple and open landscaping layouts that minimise obstructions, avoiding any features that may give a feeling of confinement or restriction. This approach may allow individuals to unwind and fully enjoy the outdoor space.
Due to the complex behaviours of robust home residents, the materials used should also be a consideration. For example, using pavers may not be approved as they could be easily removed or create patterns that may be disruptive, as well as loose stones and rocks, including pebbles in garden beds.
The SDA design standards set that all outdoor areas should be enclosed by fences that are at least 1800mm in height (or 2100mm if local council regulations allow), making them unscalable. Low shrub borders can complement these fences at ground level to discourage climbing over the fence, enhance privacy, and create a serene atmosphere. However, before adding any plant life, it is essential to consult with carers, as some participants may have a tendency to remove vegetation.
Provide areas with adequate space for socialisation
If possible, it is advantageous to include designated external areas where tenants can celebrate special occasions with their family and friends. This is particularly important as some participants may find public spaces challenging, making it more convenient for everyone to gather in the comfort of their own homes.
Connect with experienced professionals in specialist disability accommodation investment
Eligible participants for robust housing typically make their SDA home long-term accommodation. To access the funding required to make a difference in your community through NDIS property investment, reach out to the team at Apollo Investment.