NDIS – October 2016 – What are we learning so far? You are in Control and it is your Choice!
Whether you move into the NDIS via the access request process or are contacted by the NDIA, most people will meet with a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) to have an information gathering meeting. Some will meet with an NDIS planner, usually people in Group homes or young children, however the majority will meet with a Local Area Coordinator (LAC). Even at this point you are in control and have choice, you can answer their questions over the phone or via a face to face meetings. You can request to see what they write about you or your family member, or request to watch what they put into their computers. It is your choice. If you don’t like the LAC or NDIS planner you have been allocated you may request someone else. You are in Control.
In the first year of going into the NDIS you will get a ‘First Plan’ – the intention of the First Plan is to get people over to the NDIS as quickly as possible while making sure people are no worse off. The First plan aims to transfer current supports and look at any ‘immediate need’ in supports, this could be due to families not being able to provide as much support as they have been and therefore requiring more supports or there is something in the person’s life that needs to change e.g. move house, start or leave school, needing more therapeutic supports. Bear in mind the first plan is for the first year only. During the first year it is expected that the participant and family will have more time to think through their goals and supports ready for the review and full planning for the second year. Remember you are in control and have choices. If things are not right now and you need things to change and you cannot wait another year, make sure you let them know. You will need to tell them why and justify the circumstances as ‘reasonable and necessary’ and eligible for an ‘immediate need.’
First plan still includes the options to change providers or the way the funding has been managed. NDIS is committed to work with participants on an individual basis to meet the needs of the person in their particular situation. If you feel you are in a situation that requires specific individual attention you may request to meet with an NDIA planner or change the plan with a review. We have found that the review process is effective and efficient, plans are often fixed within a number of weeks.
If you have done some work on a pre-plan document or with an independent planner, the LAC or NDIA planner can attach this plan to their information, either electronically or in paper form. While it is not a pre-requisite to have done any of this work, from our experience, it is highly recommended that you have thought through, and made some notes, on the main areas of the information gathering meeting; see Jeder planning template http://jeder.com.au/ndis-pre-planning-workbook/
Once the LAC or NDIA planner has completed the information gathering meeting they will send the information to the NDIA planner who will put together the plan based on this information. The information gathering meeting can take as long as needed. They will work with participants and their families as needed to gather the information and if at any time you feel you need more thinking time, make this request. You are in control and it is your choice.
The NDIS plan will come back to you in the mail or through the Local Area Coordinator. The plan will already be activated and ready to use. If there is something in the plan that is not correct or you are not happy with it, you can ask for a review immediately. Inform the NIDA or your Local Area Coordinator and go through the review process. This can happen quickly and can be processed while you have started using the plan. If you find you are using the funding to reach the goals in the plan and your funding is being used up quickly, ask for a review. Remember you are in control and it is your choice.
Some rumors and truths:
Rumor – You need to pay for pre-planning support – not true – while there is no mechanism for planning support from an independent planner to be paid, your choice is to get this support from the local area coordinator, your service provider (if they offer it) or some of the organisations that are funded for capacity building (limited 1:1 support). http://www.adhc.nsw.gov.au/about_us/strategies/life_my_way/getting_prepared
If you wish to use an independent planner of your choice you will probably have to pay for it. The NDIS will not allow preplanning to be paid for using NDIS funds, however if you choose to use an independent the preplanning is a one off cost. To continue using the independent planner post NDIS plan, the cost will be included in the plan.
Rumor – The local area coordinator will not attach an independent pre-plan – somewhat true – some local area coordinators find pre-plans very helpful and are happy to receive them via email and use the information to include into their information. Others are adamant they cannot attach electronic versions of pre-plans. They can however, as a minimum, send a paper copy over to the NDIA office, make sure you have included the person’s name and their NDIS number onto the pre-plan so it finds the NIDA planner easily. Our experience of providing pre-plans have been positive on every occasion.
Rumor – If you choose to Self-Manage the funding you will need to pay the first month upfront – Not True – The funding is accessed through the NDIS portal, linked to your MyGov account. When you have spent some of the funding e.g. on therapy, support staff or anything else, you claim it back through the Portal. Money will be transferred to a linked bank account within 2 working days. There is talk within the NDIA the possibility of payment being made on invoice so there is no gap. Remember every person’s situation is different and will be taken into account. For large items like equipment and modifications, quotes are submitted and payments are transferred prior to payment. While you do not need to upload copies of invoices you do need to be responsible for accounting for the funding being spent. This can be done with a simple accounting system like MYOB or Quickbooks.
True – Service Providers will ask to Quarantine funds – yes this is true – but they can only quarantine funds for the life of the service agreement but cannot go outside the life of the plan. You have the option to request the length (in time) of the service agreement with the service. NDIA will give examples of service agreements but it is up to you to look over them and negotiate what suits you.
Rumor – NDIS don’t understand Self-management – somewhat true – It seems that different people have different understandings of self-management within the NDIA. Some understand it well while others will mark the plan NDIA managed even when the family has requested it to be self-managed. This is easily and quickly rectified with the review process. You can request the plan to be self-managed and then you will be asked to answer some risk questions e.g. have you ever been bankrupt? Foster parents cannot self-manage unless they have guardianship set up. You may also request assistance to learn how to self-manage.
Rumor – You can only choose one – plan manager or support coordination – Not true – you can ask for both, however there is a glitch in the system and the local area coordinator’s form will only allow you to choose one. You will need to ask them to put it in their notes that you want both. You can choose your own plan manager and support coordinator; they do need to be registered providers under the NDIS. If you are not sure who to choose NDIA will allocate someone for you.
Please remember always have the conversation, always ask the question and if you feel strongly about something you are requesting, make a point of having the conversation. Just because something is not in the first plan, doesn’t mean that it never will.
Also remember everyone is human; we are learning and learning quickly; people make mistakes, people interpret things differently. Keep the conversation going and let’s all help each other get the supports we need.
For further support contact Michaela Kennedy or http://jeder.com.au/who-we-are/jeder-collective/
Look out for more blogs to come like; I have my plan now what?