What is the 1:3 Support Ratio?

The 1:3 support ratio in Supported Independent Living (SIL) refers to one support worker providing assistance to three participants simultaneously. This model is designed to promote cost-effectiveness while ensuring participants receive the necessary support to live as independently as possible.

Structure and Implementation

Assessment and Planning

The foundation of effective 1:3 support lies in thorough assessment and meticulous planning. Here’s how the process typically unfolds:

  1. Individual Needs Assessment: Each participant’s needs are assessed to ensure that a 1:3 support arrangement is suitable. This involves evaluating their level of independence, specific support requirements, and compatibility with potential co-participants. The goal is to ensure that each participant can benefit from shared support without compromising the quality of care.
  2. Support Plan Development: A detailed support plan is crafted for each participant. This plan outlines how the support worker will assist the participants collectively and individually. It includes daily routines, specific goals, and strategies for both shared and individual activities.

Daily Activities

The day-to-day functioning of the 1:3 support model involves a balance of shared and individual tasks:

  1. Shared Tasks: The support worker assists all three participants with shared tasks such as meal preparation, household chores, and community activities. These tasks are designed to promote independence and life skills, with the support worker facilitating rather than doing everything for the participants.
  2. Individual Attention: While the primary focus is on shared activities, the support worker also provides individual attention as needed. This ensures that each participant’s unique needs are met, whether it’s personal care, medication management, or working on specific goals outlined in their support plan.


Effective scheduling is crucial for the success of the 1:3 support model:

  1. Shift Planning: Shifts are carefully planned to ensure that the support worker can manage their time and responsibilities effectively. This involves balancing the needs of all three participants and ensuring that there is enough flexibility to handle unexpected changes or emergencies.
  2. Flexibility: The schedule must be adaptable to accommodate changes in participants’ routines or needs. For example, if one participant has a medical appointment, the support worker might need to adjust the day’s plan to ensure that all participants are adequately supported.

Coordination and Communication

Maintaining clear communication and coordination among all stakeholders is essential:

  1. Team Meetings: Regular team meetings are held to discuss participants’ progress, any issues that have arisen, and strategies to improve support. These meetings involve support workers, participants, and sometimes family members or other stakeholders.
  2. Family and Stakeholder Involvement: Keeping families and other stakeholders informed and involved in the care process is crucial. This ensures transparency and fosters a collaborative approach to support.

Benefits of the 1:3 Support Model

The 1:3 support model offers several benefits, making it a popular choice for many NDIS participants:


One of the primary advantages of the 1:3 support ratio is its cost-effectiveness. By sharing a support worker among three participants, the overall cost of support services is reduced. This allows NDIS funding to be used more efficiently, potentially extending the availability of support or allowing for additional services.

Social Interaction

Participants in a 1:3 support arrangement benefit from increased social interaction. Living and working alongside peers fosters a sense of community and mutual support. This social aspect can significantly enhance participants’ quality of life, providing opportunities for friendships and shared experiences.

Resource Utilisation

The 1:3 support model allows for more efficient use of resources. Support providers can allocate funding and staff more effectively, ensuring that participants receive the necessary support without unnecessary expenditure. This efficiency can also lead to more sustainable service delivery.

Considerations for the 1:3 Support Model

While the 1:3 support model offers many benefits, there are important considerations to ensure its success:


Careful matching of participants is essential to ensure compatibility and minimise conflicts. Participants must be able to live and interact harmoniously, and their support needs should be complementary. Thorough assessments and trial periods can help determine compatibility.


Support workers need to balance their time and attention effectively to meet all participants’ needs. This requires excellent time management skills and the ability to prioritise tasks. It’s also important to ensure that no participant feels neglected or underserved.


The 1:3 support model must be flexible enough to adapt to participants’ changing needs or circumstances. This might involve adjusting the support plan, altering schedules, or providing additional training for support workers to handle specific challenges.

Example Scenario of 1:3 Support in Action

To illustrate how the 1:3 support model works in practice, let’s consider a typical day for a support worker and three participants:

Morning Routine

The support worker helps all three participants with their morning routines, ensuring they are ready for the day. This might involve assisting with personal care, preparing breakfast together, and discussing the day’s activities.

Shared Activities

Throughout the day, the support worker engages the participants in shared activities such as cooking, cleaning, and attending community events. These activities are designed to promote independence and life skills, with the support worker providing guidance and assistance.

Individual Support

During the day, the support worker spends time with each participant individually, addressing specific needs or working on personal goals. This might include helping one participant with medication management, assisting another with a personal project, or providing emotional support.

Evening Routine

As the day winds down, the support worker helps the participants with their evening routines, ensuring they are comfortable and prepared for the night. This might involve preparing dinner together, discussing the day’s achievements, and planning for the next day.


The 1:3 support ratio in NDIS Supported Independent Living is a balanced approach that combines cost-effectiveness, social interaction, and efficient resource utilisation. By carefully planning and managing the support provided, participants can enjoy a high quality of life while achieving greater independence. As with any support model, success depends on thorough assessment, careful planning, and ongoing communication and coordination among all stakeholders. When implemented effectively, the 1:3 support model can significantly enhance the lives of NDIS participants, providing them with the support they need to thrive.

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