While this is not by any means a thorough review of the NDIS and it’s Sydney roll out, I thought it would be good to stop, and reflect on what I have seen with the NDIS with my clients, so far.
The NDIS rolled out in parts of Sydney, from July 2016. This meant that a lot of my clients would be switching from either private pay, or HCWA funding, to having access to (generally) a lot more funding. This was fantastic for the clients, as they now could access a whole lot more than they currently were.
It was also a big learning curve, for all involved – including me! Going into the NDIS, I didn’t know too much about how it would actually work. Not for lack of trying! I read EVERYTHING on the website, not only in the Provider section, but all over, and still didn’t really have a clear idea.
It seems to me, as I work with more families going through it, it is an extremely individualised thing. Which is great, it’s what we need, however there is also a lot of variability between participants, and what’s in their plan, even if they seem to have similar goals. It really does depend on the participant (or their representative i.e. their parent/carer) and how articulate they can be, about what their goals are – either long term, or shorter term.
For families going through the initial meeting, it can be very overwhelming – especially to sit down and think about your child, and what their needs are, not just in the immediate present, but perhaps down the track as well. The NDIS has again simplified the initial meeting, so you may not need to consider much further long term goals, right now, and instead be able to focus on what is working well now, or what you want to add to your current supports, and work through the first year with that.
In your initial meeting, you can have a trusted professional there, as a support for you, however they will just be more of a moral support, and maybe help you work through your thoughts, and get out everything you want to say. It’s also a good idea to write down a list of what you want to discuss, to make sure you don’t forget anything!
Some meetings are happening face to face, other meetings are happening over the phone. In certain parts of Sydney, external agencies, are organising the meetings (Uniting Care etc). Once you meet your “planner”, they will be the person you have the most contact with, and if you have any questions after the meeting, or during the year that the plan is in action, they would be your first point of call.
You can go back to them at any time during the plan’s year. This may be because your or your child’s needs have changed. It may be that you have implemented more services, and require additional funding to finish the year. It may be that you want to move from a managed plan, to self-managing your funds. It may be that you want a bit more help in finding services – although there should also be someone called a “Local Area Coordinator (LAC)” helping with this. This is ok if you need to do that, and will probably help you get more of an immediate answer. In the initial stages, there will be a lot of ‘finding our feet’ – for participants, providers, and the NDIS, but don’t be afraid to ask questions, and find answers.
In terms of finding and engaging service providers, there are lots of options and ways to do this. Your planner, or LAC should provide some options. The NDIS website also has links, and you can google to find more information. Of course you can continue using your current service providers, providing they are NDIS registered, or you are self-managing your funding.
To sum up, it is still something I am relatively optimistic about. I am working a lot with families with older children, who may have missed out on some funding models, and have been unable to access specific, appropriate intervention and support where needed. There are still a lot of things that need to be ironed out, and will most likely do so, with subsequent roll outs in other areas, but it seems to be making an impact for some people, who are already participating in the scheme.
To check eligibility, visit the NDIS website, and give them a call (1800 800 110). Even if you’re not in a roll out area, it might be worth registering your details sooner, rather than later.
Just on another note, from the other end, a provider’s end, again, this seems to vary a bit, depending on when you start the registration process. I think it has been simplified a lot, since it first started, and the initial paperwork, and just thinking about what you can offer as a provider, has deterred a few people I know. The good news is, I believe that once you get started, and apply, provided you have appropriate qualifications, and experience, it will be a fairly simple process to register (for certain supports). Again, it might be a lot of paperwork, but it does ensure that the providers registering, are going to be providing, high quality supports, and have the participant’s best interests, at the centre of what they do.