What is Supported Independent Living? Your 5 Most-Asked Questions, Answered


Remember the days when independence meant having your own set of house keys or buying your first car? 

Times change, and the definition of independence has shifted, especially for people on the NDIS. 

Now, it might be more about maintaining your lifestyle while getting the necessary support to do so. That’s precisely where Supported Independent Living, or SIL, fits in.

So, what is Supported Independent Living?

SIL is a living arrangement specifically for people with a disability on the NDIS who require consistent, significant support seven days a week, even overnight. 

It’s not an institution or a full-time care facility, but a way to empower people with disabilities to live as independently as they can. 

The focus isn’t on what you can’t do, but on supporting what you can do. 

It creates an environment where you can thrive on your own terms, while still having specialised support available when you need it. 

If you need proof that SIL changes lives,, there are over 36,000 active participants who benefit from SIL in 2023. 

Are you eligible for Supported Independent Living?

Now that you know SIL is a legitimate support program, you’re probably wondering if you’re even eligible for it.

Are there certain criteria or requirements to meet? Let’s find out.

First up, eligibility can differ depending on where you are and what specific services you have an eye on. But generally speaking, here are some non-negotiables:

Age factor

Usually, you need to be at least 18 years old. This age requirement makes sure that you’re entering into a space that’s designed for adults with the skills and maturity to engage in a semi-independent lifestyle. 

Though some facilities may cater to younger people with specific needs. Always check the specific age guidelines for the SIL service you’re considering.


A professional needs to see that you actually require this level of support. 

This isn’t just a checkbox but a big process that takes into account your day-to-day living needs, your ability to perform certain tasks, and whether the environment will genuinely benefit you. 

This involves a series of interviews and maybe even some tests or observations.


There’s usually a financial assessment involved. 

This isn’t just to see if you can afford the service but also to check if you qualify for any subsidies or financial aid, particularly NDIS funding.

The last thing anyone wants is for you to move in and then struggle to keep up with the payments, so it’s about making sure it’s a sustainable choice for you.

Medical conditions


Any medical issues you might have will be looked at closely. This is to align the support you receive with your health requirements. 

Whether it’s to manage your medication   or special dietary needs, knowing your medical background helps tailor the service to you. 

Other criteria

Things like citizenship or residency might also play a role. 

Depending on the state you’re in, there may be legal stipulations about who can access certain kinds of support. 

So it’s worth your time to get to grips with the local guidelines to avoid any surprises.

So, what’s the SIL assessment process like?

Going through the options for supported independent living can feel overwhelming. 

The SIL Assessment aims to make it easier by pinpointing exactly what you need. It’s a structured series of meetings and reviews that help create a tailored plan for you. 

This Individual Support Plan aims to make your day-to-day life more manageable and fulfilling. So let’s go through each step of the process.

Step 1: initial meeting

You’ll meet with someone to talk about your day-to-day life. This is your chance to share your routines, needs, and what kind of help you think you need.

Step 2: family input

Family members can join in on the discussion if you’d like. They can offer their views on your routine or specific requirements that may need to be part of your plan.

Step 3: Professional guidance

A healthcare expert will lead the meeting. They’ll talk through things like  your medical background to any mental or physical challenges you’re facing.

Step 4: review lifestyle and goals

This part focuses on your personal aspirations and daily activities. Like joining a local club or picking up a new hobby, the idea is to match your support to your goals.


Step 5: drafting the plan

After getting all the details they need, your Individual Support Plan will be drafted. This plan lays out what type of help you’ll get, how often, and by whom.

Step 6: your turn to review

You’ll get to look over the draft plan. This is the time to read carefully and suggest any changes or additions to make sure it suits you.

Step 7: finishing off

Once you’re happy with the plan, it’ll be made final. From here on, this is the go-to document that outlines what kind of help you’ll receive to make daily life easier.

Are there different types of SIL services?

You’ve just gone through the Supported Independent Living assessment process. It’s a lot, I know. But that’s only the first part of the journey. 

Now you’re likely wondering about the types of services that come next. Perfect timing, because we’re about to dive into just that. 

Ready? Let’s go.

Personal care

This isn’t just about making sure you’re clean and dressed. It’s also about assisting you with medication and making sure you’re following doctor’s orders. 

Imagine having a personal aide to guide you through your day-to-day life.

Skill development

Skills aren’t just for your CV. Here, you learn how to cook, manage a budget, or even do your own laundry. 

The aim is to empower you with the skills to live as independently as possible.

Mobility support

This isn’t just about moving from room to room. It’s a more holistic approach, helping you with anything from getting out of bed to joining social events or appointments. 

The ultimate goal is to make mobility less of a chore.

Health management

Medication and health equipment can be confusing. This service aims to simplify it. 

Not only will you get reminders to take your meds, but you’ll also receive help with managing any health-related gear you may need.

Community participation


Staying connected to your community is crucial. This service identifies your interests and helps you get involved in innovative community participation activities, whether it’s a painting class or a weekend hiking group.

Meal planning

It’s not just about food; it’s about nutrition. This service helps you plan meals, shop for groceries, and even acquire cooking skills. 

It’s like having a nutritionist and a cooking instructor wrapped into one.

Home management

Bills, chores, and home maintenance can pile up. 

This service is like a personal assistant for your home, helping you keep tabs on chores and even manage your bills.

Disability Transport

Knowing how to get around is essential. Assistance with travel doesn’t just book taxis for you; it teaches you how to use public transport and become more self-sufficient in your travels.

Counselling and Emotional Support

Sometimes, you just need someone to talk to. This service provides that emotional support, giving you a safe space to discuss any issues or challenges you may face.

Remember, these services aren’t set in stone; they’re adjustable based on your needs and the results of your assessment. 

Think of it as a custom-tailored plan designed to fit you, and not the other way around.

How do I know if SIL is the right option for me?

Now that you know the answer to “what is Supported Independent Living”, you’re probably at that fork in the road, contemplating the big move. 

But how do you sift through the jargon and sales pitches to figure out if it’s the right fit for you? 

It’s a decision with far-reaching implications, so it’s worth taking the time to get it right. 

Let’s take a structured approach to help you make an informed choice.


Checklist mentality

Start with the basics: a checklist. Pen down what you absolutely need and what you’re willing to bend on. 

If your list has more overlaps with an SIL environment than, say, a traditional home setting, that’s an indicator. 

Remember, this is the list that doesn’t just fulfil needs but also ticks off some wants.

Ask the hard questions

How much assistance do you need on a daily basis? SIL isn’t a full-service operation like a nursing home, but it offers more help than living alone. 

It’s the Goldilocks of living situations for some. So figure out how much support you realistically need, and check if SIL can provide that.

Financial reality check

Sit down and have a heart-to-heart with your bank account. SIL often combines multiple bills — utilities, rent, care— into one monthly payment. 

This bundled approach can either simplify your financial responsibilities or make it harder to separate costs. Know what you can afford.

Personal independence

Let’s talk freedom. SIL lets you have your space, but not in the way you’d be entirely on your own. 

Think of it as having your cake and eating it too, but with a side of supervision. Where do you see yourself on the independence scale

Consult the pros

Consider talking to a healthcare provider about your specific needs. They can give you the truth on whether SIL is medically appropriate for you. 

Sometimes medical advice can reveal a factor you hadn’t considered, swaying your decision accordingly.

Visit the premises

A picture is worth a thousand words, but an actual visit? Priceless. 


Take a tour of available SIL accommodations and vacancies, poke around, and try to envision your daily life in this setting. Is it easy to imagine or a stretch?

Talk to participants

While on your tour, try to engage with current residents. Think of it as Yelp but in real time. 

They can provide insights that a brochure or salesperson won’t. It’s the unfiltered, unvarnished truth straight from the horse’s mouth.

Social fabric

Don’t underestimate the value of community. Is the social scene buzzing, or is it more of a quiet, subdued atmosphere? 

Depending on your personality, either could be a plus or a minus.

Do a test run

Many SIL facilities offer short-term stays. Think of it as a free trial but for a life decision. 

A brief stay can offer a condensed yet revealing snapshot of what you can expect long term.

Listen to your gut

Last, but by no means least, what does your gut say? It’s that hard-to-define feeling of comfort or discomfort that you should not ignore. 

If it feels like you’re trying to jam a square peg in a round hole, it might be worth reconsidering.

So there you have it, a comprehensive yet digestible guide to help you sift through the nuances of choosing SIL. 

The goal here isn’t to make the decision for you but to equip you with the tools you need to make the best choice for your unique circumstances. 

Take your time; it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

How do I choose the right SIL provider?

Choosing a SIL provider is like stepping into a new relationship; you want it to be just right.  

Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as swiping right on Tinder. Far from it.

Firstly, let’s talk about why it’s crucial to find the right housing setup. Imagine moving in with someone, only to find out they’re into death metal at 3 a.m. 

Not ideal. 

The same applies here. If your housing doesn’t align with your needs, you’ll be seeking a “break-up” sooner than you’d like.

Here are key considerations to really think about before signing an agreement: 


Being close to family might be your priority, but perhaps you’re more of a city slicker. 

The location can also affect your access to healthcare, so do your research. Make sure you’re not sacrificing essential services for a nice view.


This is about more than just wheelchair ramps and lifts. Think about the layout inside the home as well. 

Narrow doorways? Steep inclines? It should be as easy to move around inside as it is to get in the front door



If you’re someone who enjoys lively discussions and group activities, you don’t want to land in a place where everyone keeps to themselves. 

On the flip side, if you prefer a book to a party, a quieter community might be your jam.


A gym is great for some, but maybe you’re more of a garden person. Check out the extra facilities like common areas, libraries, or hobby rooms. 

If they don’t have what you need, it could be a deal-breaker.


Financial strain can sour any living situation. You need to be sure that you can comfortably afford the SIL provider you choose, including any additional services not covered in the basic fee.


These are the people you’ll interact with daily. Are they polite and professional, and do they treat residents with respect? 

If the staff gives you the vibe of a hurried waiter at a busy restaurant, you might want to reconsider.

And don’t forget those deal-breakers. Whether it’s dietary needs, pet policies, or space for your prized vinyl collection, these non-negotiables are your relationship “red flags.” 

If something’s off, don’t force it. Keep looking until you find a match that ticks your essential boxes.

The road ahead

a cute girl on a wheelchair in the kitchen at home 2021 10 13 21 47 19 utc

So, we’ve gone through the ins and outs of supported independent living. Intriguing, isn’t it? 

From understanding what it actually is to why it might be a fit for you or someone you care about, we’ve covered a lot of ground. 

And let’s not forget those important facts that shed light on why this is more than just a trending topic — it’s a vital option for many.

Still have reservations? That’s completely normal. 

Remember, the path to clarity is paved with questions. It’s fine to have uncertainties; it’s part of being informed. 
Take your time. Weigh your options. Talk to participants and providers. And when you’re ready, you’ll make the right decision for you.


Rehan, director of Sydney Health Care Services (SHCS), leads with passion in NDIS care, empowering Sydney's youth and disabled with the knowledge and support they need to get the best support possible.