Exploration and Design (Stage 1)

This is your opportunity to decide how your ILO is going to work

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What is the Exploration and Design Stage?

This stage is all about giving you the opportunity to decide where you want to live, who you want to live with, what support you will need, and who will provide that support. This information is used to complete the NDIS ‘Service Proposal’ when you are ready to request ILO funding from the NDIS. An ILO is always an individualised tailored package describing the supports you need to live at home. It should never be a template approach and you should be involved every step of the way.

You do not need to use a service provider or NDIS funding for this process, you can explore and design your ILO with trusted family, friends, Circle of Support and/or Microboard at any time. If you want some assistance, NACBO have Navigators around Australia that may also be available to work alongside you and your supporters as you go through this process.

Through Exploration and Design, you should:

  • use the vision for your future home and consider the full range of options as to how you want to be supported.
  • gain an understanding of your strengths, with a focus on what you can do, and an understanding of how informal (unpaid), formal (paid) and community supports will play a role in your life and use this to design the individual support package.
  • find out what is possible, be innovative in designing the supports that will work for you
  • assess possible risks in the context of your preferred way of living, and explore if there could be other options that might suit better; and
  • sometimes you may need assistance in this phase to locate suitable housing or linking with other funded, community or mainstream housing services.

Often people considering ILO have never experienced living away from their usual care arrangements. If this is the case, you may wish to consider sampling some different ways of living to work out what suits you best – supported holidays, holiday with a potential housemate, spending regular time in someone’s home (potential Host), staying home while your family are away, staying with others while your family are away, spending time in Short Term Accommodation (STA) or short-term rental (AirBnB or similar), housesitting. Your experiences give the NDIS clear evidence about what sort of housing support works and doesn’t work for you, and why you have chosen the specific supports as part of your ILO. You can record what you have experienced in the ‘Sampling Different Ways of Living Checklist’ (NACBO).

How Long Should the Exploration and Design Process Take?

The NDIS states this process should take a minimum of 3 months, however this is dependent on many factors and our experience is that it usually takes around 12 months.

Exploration and Design Funding

If you have NDIS funding specifically for Exploration and Design, it will be a ‘Stated’ support in your NDIS Core Support budget.

If you have not been given Exploration and Design funding by the NDIS, but you want to pay someone to assist you through this process. You can still use your existing Core Support or Support Coordination budget to do this. Just be clear about how much of your budget you are making available for this purpose so that you don’t run out of funding for your essential supports and services.

You may also choose to do this work solely with your family, supporters or allies without using NDIS funding.

The NDIS offers three levels of Exploration and Design funding, which is decided based on your ‘Home and Living Supports Request Form’:

Level 1 – up to 30 hours of E & D

For people who can make their own decisions or have people who can assist them to make decisions, already know how and where they want to live (including location, availability and affordability considerations), already know what sort of supports they want in place, want to move to a place that is not too far away from where they currently live.

Level 2 – up to 50 hours of E & D

For people who aren’t sure what help they’ll need, want to move to a different area (town or suburb), expect that it will take some time to find a suitable home they can afford, need some help coming to an agreed decision and/or others involved in the decision making process

Level 3 – up to 100 hours of E & D

For people who need help to work out what help is needed across many areas of their life, want to move to a different area (from rural to town, from one regional area to another), expect that finding the home you need in the preferred place that is affordable will be difficult, have a lot of people assisting you with decision making that may have different ideas.

If your Exploration and Design is Agency Managed…

If this part of your NDIS plan is Agency Managed, you can only utilise this support with an NDIS provider who is registered to provide Support Coordination (Assist Life Stages). Even though you may have a great Support Coordinator in place, it may be worthwhile seeking the assistance of someone experienced in ILO and housing, to assist with this part of your plan. It is okay for your existing Support Coordinator to keep helping you in other areas while asking another, more experienced one to help you specifically with Exploration and Design.

If this funding is Plan Managed or Self Managed…

If this funding is Plan Managed or Self Managed, you can find someone who may or may not be registered with NDIS, and who you would like to pay to help you through this process.

Thinking About Typical Supports

Many people find at this stage it is helpful to draw up a schedule of a typical week to look at what support is needed where, and by whom.

We have provided an example of how this may look – Jo’s Weekly Schedule – to assist you in working this out.

It is important to note what irregular, but predictable things come up over a typical year for you. For example, do you have an annual family holiday, spend Christmas/New Year away from home or with family, annual medical procedures that require an inpatient stay in hospital, a semi-regular pattern of hospitalisation that means you won’t be at home, membership to a sport that sees your weekly schedule change significantly during the season.

Once you have a typical weekly schedule and have decided on your preferred types of support. It’s time to get a rough idea of the cost of your supports. You can use an online calculator like www.supportcalculator.com.au or https://coability.com.au/ndis-budget-calculator/ to work out how much your chosen model is likely to cost. You may have to manually add in quoted items such as delivered meals to the final cost. Your ILO will be ‘quoted’ as an annual cost, divided up across 52 weeks and paid weekly by the NDIS, allowing flexibility and certainty of paid supports.

Once you are happy with the way your ILO will work, you are ready to develop your ‘ILO Service Proposal

Helpful resources:

Sampling Different Ways of Living Checklist (NACBO)

Person-Centred Planning Tools (Helen Sanderson and Associates)

About Me – a way to introduce yourself to new people if you don’t communicate with words

My Vision for a Great Life – writing down dreams and aspirations to help you see what needs to happen next and reflect on how far you’ve come.

My Support Network – captures the important relationships in your life and the roles they play

My Community Connections – provides structure to think about the things you do regularly and the people you know there. Helps to identify potential opportunities.

My Current Supports – identifies your current supports and may also show areas where you might need more or less support. This could be adjusted to represent ‘My Ideal Supports’

My Safety and Security – thinking about whether or not you feel safe with your current support, or are there times when you are feeling unsafe when you are not supported

What’s Working/What’s Not Working/Could be Better If?

Weekly Schedule – Example

Housing Toolkit (Summer Foundation)

Need Support With ILO?

NACBO have dedicated staff available across Australia who can assist you through the various stages of this process.

Click ‘Get Support’ to find your nearest contact.

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