The ideas behind NDIS, and the values and vision it holds promises greater independence, hope and help to many. It allows many people, including some who otherwise would not be eligible for funding for support, to get this support they need to live the life they envision. It gives power to choose who you want to work with; the people who are the best fit for them at that time, and the flexibility over time to change who these people and/or organisations are working with them to continue to grow and develop.
From a providers point of view, we have seen the immense benefit of additional supports the NDIS in its varying forms has given. However we have also seen the pain and angst it has created for some in trying to learn and navigate this new system. We wanted to share with you some of our top tips from our own learning and experience with NDIS so far.
- Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to stick up for what you think is right
You never know unless you ask! There are lots of different options under NDIS, and ways of going about it. If you think there is a better fit, don’t be afraid to ask. It helps to have done your research and know exactly what you are looking for, and how others may have navigated it in the past as well. You don’t have to sign off on your plan straight away, there is usually a draft version so double check everything is there and hasn’t been missed for some reason, and if it has been missed if it is possible to have it added. This may mean compromising other areas of funding so it depends on your child’s goals.
When writing your NDIS plan, including transfers from WA NDIS, check to see who has permission to view your plan and/or be a part of your planning process. You can give permission for current providers and/or supports to attend planning meetings with you to help you navigate the system and advocate for supports that would benefit your child.
- Be clear on your ideal for support
Before you have your planning meeting, have a good idea of what your child’s current goals are, and providers who are a good fit for your child and family. This may change over time, and one of the good things about NDIS, is that when your plan is reviewed, changes can be made. Taking in quotes and relevant reports as evidence can also be helpful.
When you’re planning, and for later reviews- don’t be afraid to change it up, everyone has different areas of expertise and skills which may have suited your child and family to start with, but now their goals have changed and there may be someone who is more skilled in that area.
- Don’t underestimate the power of having support coordination!
Support Coordinators are usually people who know the NDIS system inside out and can help you to navigate the system, communicate between providers and follow up funding queries- including for some types of equipment. They can help make sure everyone is on the same page and keeping on track, supporting your child and family as best they can. They are especially helpful when you have more than one provider/organisation working with you and your family.
Under WA NDIS and/or DSC, your LC may have acted as a coordinator, or you may have had a coordinator through WA NDIS working with you. Under NDIS it is essential to have support coordination in your plan if you wish to continue to have a support coordinator working with you and your family. If it’s not in your plan, you don’t have access to it.
- Talk to others who have navigated the system
Learn from them what worked well and what didn’t to help you in planning.
There are also many people out there who have written blog posts and recorded videos with tips and tricks for learning and navigating this system. Perhaps join a facebook group where people are talking about the NDIS. Or attend workshops that are regularly held by support organisations that empower caregivers to understand the NDIS system.
- Talk to your current provider or someone currently working with your child and family to see if they can support you to navigate the system
They may be able to act as an advocate for your child and family to help get supports that would help them to reach their goals into their plan. Or even tell you tips they have picked up from helping other families navigate the system, or from their own experience.
This is certainly not essential and only if you need it! It may only be you would like support for the first round of planning until you learn the system as well.
- Engage and Advocacy Service
If you don’t feel confident navigating the NDIS service on your own or you have had issues with your plan and need help with changes, then it may be worth engaging an advocacy service. These services can help you to understand the processes, your rights and provide support in making changes that you need.
- Check out the NDIS websites FAQ and resources.
NDIS website: https://www.ndis.gov.au
Information for participants: https://www.ndis.gov.au/participants
It is a complex system and it can take a while to get your head around it all. Help to navigate it is out there, it’s just a matter of searching for it and asking the right questions. It can be hard to get everything on your wishlist in your child’s plan as well, but being a good advocate can help to get as much support as possible based on your child’s goals and needs at that time.
If you need support to learn more about the NDIS system and processes, their national phone number is 1800 800 110 where someone can direct you to relevant contacts and/or information. The NDIS website also has numerous resources and FAQ that may be of help. The good news for WA is that NDIS is opening more offices so this may also help to streamline help and support.