Reviewing and Planning Individual Supported Living Arrangements

Individual Supported Living
Curtin University, School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work
Country of Implementation
Australia & Oceania
Start Year
First published

Based on two research phases, the Curtin University in 2017 produced a manual for individual supported living. The manual outlines critical themes and defines attributes to determine the quality of ISL arrangements. These can be scored against specific indicators with an accompanying review scoring booklet.

Solution details


“We wouldn’t hesitate to participate in relevant industry and research partnerships again. Our staff benefited from increased skills and knowledge… and the results and findings of the project are relevant to service delivery, design and policy making.” CEO of a national Australian disability services NGO

In 2007, Curtin University in Perth, Australia, launched the Individual Supported Living (ISL) project for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and in 2011 it produced an ISL manual, based on two research phases, providing a framework for reviewing and developing ISL arrangements. During the third phase of the project (2015–2018), which involved two other universities and six partner disability organizations, researchers evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of 130 ISL arrangements across Australia. Based on that research, Curtin University published an updated manual in 2017, extending the evidence base underpinning ISL.

Problems Targeted

In Australia, there is limited evidence to underpin the development of person-centred individual supported living arrangements for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Solution, Innovation and Impact

The manual outlines a framework of eight critical themes for successful ISL arrangements, such as Support, Control, and Social Inclusion. Across these eight themes there are 21 attributes that can be reviewed to determine the quality of ISL arrangements, and an accompanying ‘review scoring booklet’ allows people to score ISL arrangements against specific indicators under each attribute. People can use the framework for training and policy development, planning a new ISL arrangement, or to review an existing arrangement. In this third research phase, 111 researchers trained in using the framework evaluated 130 ISL arrangements across Australia. Working in small teams, they spoke with the individuals themselves, their families, friends, support services, and other relevant stakeholders. Researchers used these evaluations to update the manual and to confirm the validity of the framework. They also identified a subgroup of participants with very high support needs living in successful ISL arrangements, demonstrating that the severity of support needs should not exclude anyone from individual supported living.

Funding, Outlook and Transferability

This third phase of the project was funded by a Linkage Project grant of $335,000 from the Australian Research Council. This was matched by in-kind contributions from the partner disability organizations and substantial contributions from the universities. Future plans for the project include developing training modules on use of the manual for various stakeholder groups, including persons with disabilities, families, and advocates. To date, 211 stakeholders have already been trained in addition to the researchers. Further, the project has not yet addressed people living in their family home or in a group home, so this is a possible future avenue of research. Curtin University expanded the project from a West Australia pilot to a national study. Moreover, there has been interest in the project internationally.




Related information

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Country of Implementation


Region of Implementation

Australia & Oceania