Demystifying the NDIS
The National Disability Insurance Scheme otherwise (NDIS) is the largest Australian Government health initiative to be introduced since Medicare. It is overseen by a Government entity known as the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). The similarity in names causes some confusion but at the end of the day it is the job of the NDIA to implement the NDIS.
The aim of the NDIS is to provide people living with disability who are under the age of 65 with the supports they need to lead a life that is as full and independent as possible. The legislation claims that no individual can be worse off under the new initiative.
It was decided that the NDIS would be rolled out in stages. The concept was trialled in a select few locations initially before being rolled out across the country. The NDIS that we see now is quite different to the one trialled initially as necessary changes have been made along the way. In Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula the NDIS will be rolled out in April 2018.
One of the key issues overall has been the underestimation of participants. This is primarily due to the fact that there are many families who have simply never received support. Insufficient staff numbers and inadequate training led to delays for both participants and providers. However, like any new system, it will take time to implement and there is never a smooth path. Once implemented successfully, this scheme should greatly improve the lives of many Australians.
Who is eligible?
Everyone wishing to participate in the NDIS should first visit the www.ndis.gov.au website and click on the ‘My NDIS Pathway’ link. There is an array of resources available to explain eligibility and access. You can apply up to six months prior to the NDIS rolling out within your region.
Once registered, you can manage your NDIS activities in the ‘My Portal’. There are a range of instruction guides on the NDIS website to assist in the development of the portal which needs to be linked to a ‘myGov’ account.
There is a lot of discussion around the fact that “the NDIS is coming” as though an enormous storm is about to descend. Early preparation is key to success. Individuals or their carers as relevant will receive a phone call to discuss their NDIS plan. Some have felt that discussing such personal issues over the phone is inappropriate. Others feel that they were tricked into developing their plan over the phone without realising the purpose of the call. As a result, there has been a growing number of participants demanding face to face meetings and a review by the Government to consider making face to face meetings the protocol moving forward.
Importance of Planning
During the planning meeting individuals or their carers will be asked a range of questions in an interview that will take approximately 90 minutes. Preparation for this meeting is vital. You need to know what services and supports you are receiving now and what supports are missing. You will need evidence of supports, supporting letters from specialists, price quotes for potential equipment purchases and overarching goals that you want to achieve that are tied back to the disability.
There are organisations out there who can assist with pre-planning there is no need for the process to become overwhelming. In some cases, individuals will just need a continuance of existing supports and this is a perfectly acceptable way of entering into your first NDIS plan. Your plan will last for 12 months. You can amend it if necessary, however the goal is to review your plan annually.
Core, Capital, Capacity? What are they all about?
With the introduction of the NDIS there a collection of new phrases that we must familiarise ourselves with including core, capital and capacity building supports, support coordination, price guide and types of plan management. Core funding relates to the funding needed to maintain daily living such as domestic tasks, consumable items such as continence aids, meals and short term accommodation. Capital funding relates to equipment and home modifications this funding is not flexible. Capacity Building funding supports the individual to build their independence and skills for example behaviour therapy.
There are some fantastic discussion groups on Facebook including ‘NDIS Grassroots Discussion’ to speak to others who are facing the same challenge. The NDIS is new and clunky but it is not something to be feared, it is simply something to prepare for and help is out there if you need it.