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We know that being a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant can be life changing. After all, the NDIS has transformed the disability space in Australia.

But your journey through the Scheme – from checking whether you’re eligible to your eventual review – isn’t always straightforward.

At My Plan Manager, we’re here for you and all the twists and turns that might come your way. Because, just like no two people with disability are the same, nor will two people have identical NDIS experiences.

However, there are some common milestones, which is why we’ve mapped out some of the key points on your journey and signposted what to look out for on your way!

Journey overview

The NDIS has a big impact on participants’ lives, so it’s not surprising that the process of applying for, and being accepted into, the Scheme can be complex and time consuming.

But it doesn’t need to be overwhelming – and to help you on the way, we’ve broken the NDIS journey into five key milestones that you may encounter.

Milestone #1: applying for the NDIS

This is when you, your family members or support people will contact the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and begin the process of applying for you to become a participant in the Scheme.

The NDIA has lists of disability diagnoses that are likely to be automatically accepted as needing NDIS support. Click here to learn more.

There are also lists of conditions that are likely to result in a person being permanently impaired, and thus also eligible for the Scheme. Here’s what they are.

Anyone can apply to join the NDIS, but you must have evidence of how your disability impacts on your functional capacity, which is your ability to live your day-to-day life. This could be the way your disability impacts you physically (e.g., if you have a wheelchair, mobility aid etc) or it might be a different impact entirely (e.g., if you have an intellectual disability that means you need support to live independently and complete everyday tasks, like cooking, shopping or leaving the house).

What you need to do to apply: Fill out an NDIS Access Request Form or phone the NDIA on 1800 800 110.

Extra information to supply: Do you have allied health professionals or other providers you’re already working with? Ask them to fill out Section 2 of the NDIS Access Request Form.

They may also be able to report on your functional capacity and this could be provided to the NDIA as an assessment, a letter or a report. It’s vital that evidence about your functional capacity is included in the information you supply to support your application, and everything you give to the NDIA should be factual and share what daily life is like for you.

Milestone #2: planning meeting

What you need to do before and during your planning meeting: Once the NDIA has accepted your application, you’ll officially be a participant in the NDIS. You, your family members and/or supporters will meet with an NDIA planner or your Local Area Coordinator (LAC). Together, you’ll discuss what your life looks like now and what your hopes and dreams are for the future – and these plans will become your NDIS goals.

As the saying goes, a goal without a plan is just a wish – so make sure to really consider what it is you want to achieve, and the supports you’ll need to do that. Click here for advice on goal setting.

Your goals will be part of your plan (and your budget will be aligned to them) and they’ll become guiding lights for you and the professionals you work with, as they report how their expertise is supporting you to work towards achieving your goals.

Some goals will be a one-off, some will be long term and may be carried over a series of plans, and others might be about maintaining and protecting a skill you already have.

Extra information to supply: Your goals are hyper-personal and are there to guide you to live the life you want to live. Think big and get creative about the areas of your life you’d like to expand and celebrate.

You could consider:

  • your life at home, with friends and family, or in the community.
  • your life at school, TAFE, university or work – including if you’d like to explore further education, training and careers.
  • whether assistive technology and equipment could support you in your goals, especially around maintaining or growing independence.

Goals are at the heart of your NDIS plan and because they’re so important, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to design them. Kinora, My Plan Manager’s free online community for people with disability and their supporters, gets it. Here’s eight prompts from Kinora for brainstorming the best goals for you.

And let’s be real – while your NDIS plan is based around your goals, there’s not a person on the planet that’s smashing their goals every single day, and neither should you! Life has peaks and troughs. So just remember to zoom out and look at the big picture now and then, to ensure your NDIS supports are still in alignment with your goals.

Milestone #3: implementation meeting – for new NDIS participants

What to expect at your implementation meeting: Implementation meetings are held with your LAC within 28 days of your plan being completed. They’re not compulsory, but they come highly recommended for participants who are joining the Scheme for the first time.

This is your chance to ask questions about your plan, your funding, and how you can and can’t use it. And, if you have any concerns or worries about your plan, the implementation meeting is a good time to raise them.

During the meeting you’ll also learn how to find the best service providers to work alongside you and how to set up service agreements and bookings. You can find a list of NDIS registered providers here.

Remember – think beyond the disability sector when it comes to your supports. You
might be able to access extra supports, including community and mainstream supports, by thinking outside the box!

Milestone #4: assessment of your plan

What you need to do: Assessments aren’t compulsory, but they’re highly recommended. Held every three months, they are a review designed to see how everything is tracking with your plan. You can do this yourself, or you might wish to review your plan with your LAC or an advocate, or even reach out to your providers.

Why assessments can be useful: A bit like the way a goal without a plan is just a wish, without regular reviews there is a danger you could find yourself going off course with your plan. Conducting a review four times a year helps to keep you on track. It’s a chance to look at:

  • the work you’ve been doing with your providers – how is it progressing your goals? Are you enjoying working with your providers or would you like to try working with someone new? Are there any new programs that have been released that you weren’t aware of before?
  • what your plan funding looks like. Are you on track and not overspending or underspending? Regular reviews allow you to keep a close eye on your budget and help to avoid any shocks or blowouts.
  • where you’re at in your plan. If you’re approaching the end of your plan, now is the time to reach out to your providers and therapists to discuss any reports you might need or other supporting documentation you’ll take to your next plan review.

Milestone #5: end of the plan

What you need to do: Be prepared to hear from the NDIA about six weeks before the end of your plan is due. This way, you can make sure you’re prepared for your plan reassessment.

If you or your supporters haven’t had any contact with the NDIA it’s important to be proactive and contact the Agency on 1800 800 110.

Be prepared: This is a really important time to ensure your next plan includes everything you need to ensure you have the support you require. You might look at setting some new goals and at revising the ones you currently have.

It’s also time to request and collect detailed reports from your providers about the work you’ve been completing together and how it’s contributed to your goal progression. Reports should be personalised to you and your journey, and include sufficient detail to support your requests.

The NDIA has this information for providers about how to support you with reporting. It’s worth a read to know what the NDIA is looking for – and you might want to share the link with your providers.

Wherever you are on your NDIS journey, you have the opportunity for small wins, big wins and radical change. Dream big! Fill your team with the right people and the sky’s the limit.

Strength in numbers

Earlier, we mentioned Kinora, our online community for Australians with disability. Designed to help people with disability and their supporters to connect with peers, NDIS experts, disability sector professionals and service providers, Kinora has loads of free, accessible content to support participants in understanding the NDIS and how to best navigate the Scheme.

It’s a community filled with answers to commonly shared questions and concerns – and there’s strength in numbers, right? Check Kinora out today!

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My Plan Manager acknowledges the objectives of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

My Plan Manager acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia, and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures, and to Elders both past and present.
© My Plan Manager 2020
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