Each NDIS participant will have their own plan with the goals they want to achieve and the support they need to help them do this. The NDIS provides the funds and the participant chooses which provider to purchase supports from.
The NDIS gives people with a disability more independence and choice to decide exactly what they want and to choose their own service providers. More choice is a great thing, but for some people the extra decisions and planning can start to seem a bit complicated or overwhelming.
Community service organisation Uniting is one of the Local Area Co-ordinators for the NDIS in NSW (the other NSW LAC is St Vincent de Paul), helping eligible applicants transition to their First Plan and for some people, working with them to choose their supports.
Anita Le Lay, Head of Disability with Uniting, gives her top tips for getting the most out of the NDIS.
Reflect and look to the future – Think about what you want your life to be like? What do you love in life and want to do more of? What’s important to you, and for you? It important to think about what significant life events will be occurring for you in the next 12 months. It could be leaving school, starting work, or moving out independently. At your planning meeting make sure you discuss these events and ensure they are reflected in your plan.
Get familiar and educate yourself – Learn about the NDIS, or find someone to help you understand. Find a worker who you have a good relationship with, ask them questions around how the NDIS works and what support it can provide. Otherwise, look online on the NDIS website or on the NSW NDIS website run by Family & Community Services This site can give you information about upcoming events and workshops that can help you prepare.
Ask for help – It isn’t easy to come up with a plan on your own! Ask friends, family or your service provider for their advice. In your planning meeting take the first 15 minutes to explain what is working well and not so well and how important the support is that you require. It may also be beneficial to explain the impact your disability has on your life.
Write it down – During the pre-planning phase it’s important to be as detailed as possible. Make a diary of what you do day to day, and what support you require. Don’t forget to consider transport, incontinence aids or interpreting. Think big around the things you’ll require both long and short term. Have copies of all of your reports and evidence to back up what you are requesting as well.
Your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) will schedule a time to meet with you. At Uniting, our LACs also hold general information sessions for participants and their families. These help all parties understand more about the NDIS and what lies ahead. You can find out about these by calling our LAC office in your local area, all our details are on our website.
Read and understand – Remember, if the plan doesn’t meet your needs, it’s okay to have the plan reviewed by the National Disability Insurance Agency (the agency in charge of implementing the NDIS). Take the time to read and understand your plan. Log onto the Myplace NDIS participant portal – this online service is a website for participants to view their plan, request payments and manage services with providers. Your LAC representative can assist you with this if you need support.
Share! – Once your plan is approved, you’ll be given an activation code. This code will allow you to access your plan online and share with your chosen service providers (only if you want to, this is not mandatory).
Patience – Try to be patient. There are a lot of people entering the scheme, and you may have to wait a little bit longer than you prefer. Be assured that any existing services you have will continue until your NDIS plan kicks in.