First plan planning meeting
Once your access request has been accepted and it has been confirmed you are an NDIS participant, you will be contacted for a planning meeting.
This planning meeting should be face to face. It will be done with either an NDIS planner or a local area coordinator (LAC).The LAC will be from an organisation located in the community. Each area has a different local area coordinator – you will need to check the NDIS website to find the LAC in your area.
The LAC will sit down with you and talk you though your first plan. They will ask you about what kind of help you currently get, and what extra help you might need. They will also ask you about your goals – what other things you might like to do but can’t at the moment.
Not everything in this conversation should be or needs to be about specialist disability support. The LAC or planner will ask you what other kinds of services or support you might need and help connect you to it – they might be things like health care or services provided by the local council. The LAC or planner will also ask you what kinds of activities in the community you are interested in and again help connect you to them.
It’s important to remember at the end of the conversation, the LAC will ask you if you want your plan and funding to be managed by the NDIA, managed by an independent agency or whether you want to be agency managed, plan managed or self managed. That’s an important decision, and you should think about it before you have the meeting.
And just remember – just because it is called your first plan does not mean only plan. This is not a “one-off” event. This is just your first plan to get you started with the NDIS. Don’t feel like you have to get everything sorted with this first plan – just focus on the urgent and most important stuff.
At the end of the meeting, the LAC will write up the plan and send it off for approval.
There is more information about the process for developing your first plan on the NDIS website.
So what kind of help could I get?
To understand what kind of help you might get through the NDIS, you first need to think about a concept called “reasonable and necessary”. Reasonable and necessary sounds like a bit of a mouthful, but it is a really important part of the NDIS.
The NDIS can only fund supports for people with disability that are “reasonable and necessary”.
Necessary means that the supports are essential for that person to get out and live their life. These supports are required because of a person’s disability – if they did not have a disability, they would not need them.
Reasonable means that the supports must also be fair, and are not more than what an ordinary member of the community would expect to receive.
In short, the NDIS will fund supports for people with disability to live an ordinary life.
The staff who work at the NDIS decide what is reasonable and necessary according to guidelines. In order to be considered reasonable and necessary, a support must:
- be related to the person’s disability;
- not include day-to-day living costs;
- represent value for money;
- be likely to be effective and beneficial to the person with disability; and
- take into account support given to the person with disability by families, carers, networks, and the community.
So what kinds of things are considered reasonable and necessary?
- Help with personal care like showering
- Aids and equipment like wheelchairs
- Therapies like speech therapy, physiotherapy or occupational therapy
- Help with household tasks like cooking and cleaning
The NDIS won’t fund things that are not related to a person’s disability or are considered ordinary living costs, like rent and food.
You can find out more about reasonable and necessary on the NDIS website. There are videos, fact sheets and some information in easy English.
The NDIS website also has a series of stories which provide examples of the different kinds of support that are available.
So I have had my planning meeting – what’s next?
After you have had your meeting, the plan will be reviewed by the NDIS and approved.
Depending on your situation, you will get help to put you plan into action. This help might come from your Local Area Coordinator or it might come from a Support Coordinator.
But before you get started there a couple of simple things you need to do. Read your plan and make sure it is correct. Make sure you understand the different parts of the plan and what they mean.
And make sure you are registered with myGov – you can check here. You will need a myGov registration to access the NDIS myplace portal. The myplace portal is a secure website where you can see everything that is happening with your plan. You can look at your plan, keep track of your budget and manage your supports.
There is more information about how to use the myplace portal on the NDIS website.
Getting your plan into action
There are three sections in an NDIS plan.
- Section One – has some personal details.
- Section Two – contains your goals – short term and long term.
- Section Three – contains the support you need. This section will be broken up into three parts:
- the help you currently get from family and friends,
- the help you get from other services in the community (like health or education), and finally
- the support you will get through the NDIS.
Your plan will detail how much funding you will receive. Your budget will be broken up into three parts – core, capacity building and capital.
- Core – includes supports to help you with everyday life
- Capacity building – includes supports to build your skills and independence
- Capital – includes assistive technology, equipment or home modifications
It is really important to remember that your core budget can be used flexibly, so you can organise your supports in the way that best suits you. The items in capacity building and capital tend to be a bit more fixed. If you are not sure about anything, make sure you ask your LAC.
You can read more on getting your plan into action on the NDIS website.
Managing your plan
At the end of your planning meeting with the LAC, they will ask you how you want your funding to be managed. This is an important decision, so you need to think about it before you go into the meeting.
Managing your plan is really about how your service providers get paid. There are three ways this can happen.
After they have provided you with a service, your provider submits an invoice to the NDIA and the NDIA pays them. You can track how everything is going through the myplace portal but you don’t have to worry about all the paperwork.
It is important to remember if you choose this option you can only use providers that are registered with the NDIA. And you must pay them the NDIA rates.
This means you are responsible for requesting an invoice from your service provider after you have received a service, and then forwarding it to the NDIA. They will then put the money in your bank account so you can pay the invoice.
The advantage of this approach is that it gives you the greatest amount of flexibility and freedom. You can choose any provider you like – they don’t have to be registered with the NDIA. And you can negotiate your own price – you don’t have to stick to the NDIA prices.
But you have to be organised and do all the paperwork yourself.
Some people are a little intimidated by the idea of self management. But it is worth giving it some thought. It offers the most flexibility, and the chance to work with the people you want to work with. If you are interested, try and find others who have self managed their funding to get an idea of what’s involved.
Plan management is basically like self management – only you get an independent organisation to do everything for you. And the money to pay that organisation to do all the work for you gets added to your plan so you are not out of pocket.
There is a fourth option – one that not many people know about. You can do a mixture – some agency managed, and some self managed. This might work for you if you don’t want to do all the paperwork yourself, but have some areas where you want a great deal of flexibility and control.
It is really important to remember that whichever method you choose, you are still in control. No matter which option you choose, you choose your providers and you control when and how your supports are delivered. These three options are really just about the different ways providers can get paid.
There is more information about managing your plan on the NDIS website, and more specifically about self managing here.
Choosing your service providers
When it comes to organising your supports, it is important to remember that you are in the driver’s seat. You are in control.
You might already have a service provider you are happy with. That’s great. But don’t feel locked in. You don’t have to do things the way they have always been done. Now might be the right time to try something new. Now might be the time to do something you have always wanted to do but haven’t had the chance.
Choosing a provider is just like choosing anything else you might want to buy. Work out what you want, do your research, take a look around and then choose. And like anything else, it helps to talk to others about what they have done. What do they like about their providers? Would they recommend them?
We have come up with a few questions you might like to consider when choosing a service provider:
- Which of the providers in my area can offer the kinds of supports I need?
- Do the supports offered by any of the providers meet my personal needs and help me to achieve any of the goals I’ve set for myself?
- Will the provider see me as an individual with rights?
- How will the provider ensure I have choice and control over how support is provided to me?
- Can the provider guarantee flexibility of support that fits my life?
- What skills and experience do their staff members have?
- Does the provider charge a fair price?
- What evidence can the provider show me that they deliver high quality support?
- Does the provider have feedback and complaints systems that are independent of their service delivery systems?
- What do other people with disability or carers say about the quality of the support the provider gives them?
The NDIS has developed a few resources to help people find and negotiate with service providers.
Brightwater has developed the NDIS toolkit to help guide individuals with disability and their support network to effectively plan for the NDIS.
The toolkit is for individuals and their families; carers and guardians; as well as health and other human services professionals, and disability service providers.
Funded by the Department of Communities Disability Services, the toolkit will help you register for the NDIS and prepare for your planning meeting by taking out all the guesswork
Your rights as a consumer
When you pay for a product or service yourself, you have rights as a consumer. This includes services and products you purchase through the NDIS.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has produced some information for people with disability and their families to understand their rights, and help when something goes wrong.
There are fact sheets, videos and information in Easy English on the ACCC website.