Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Lottery Continues

In Queensland support under Disabilities Services was being compared to a lottery.  There seemed not rhythm or rythme to who was receiving funding.  Following my previous post where we sore little attempt by the Queensland government to add too the pool of disability funding for more than a decade, In its final years it seem you were more likely to win Gold Lotto that receive support from the Department of Community Services. 

As the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme commence we were promised a fair system where every person with a disability, regardless of where the lived in Australia and their disabilities, that no one who be disadvantaged.  However, that is not the way some participants are feeling.  Again as I talk to individuals, read blog post and talk to providers, there is a growing sense that plans are like lottery tickets.

 My ndis goals are around keeping my independence;
and building my visual art practise.

Your ndis is based on the things you or your family want to achieve; the activities you want to engage in; how you want to engage in the community, and what supports you need to achieve this.  I have many time discussed, the ndis will fund reasonable and necessary supports for you to achieve your goals.  So it is necessary for you to get into bed at night and out of bed each morning to go to school, shopping, work or a day centre activity, probably at some stage you need to eat and have a shower too.

Under the ndis you don't need to ask for these things.  Just like a obviously, I am going to need a new wheelchair from time to time.  However, you need to take a list of all these things with you to your planning meeting, (the ndia are trying to phase out panning sessions over the phone, generally these have not worked well for participants.)

Reasonable supports are supports that enable you to life a 'normal life' or as I say, to live a life reflecting that of you peers.  So if you a year 12 student, looking to attend uni next year, support to get round campus, assistance in the library, a wheelchair and physio therapy are pretty reasonable requested.  However, a laptop is not, as most students have laptops these days.   

So the ndia will only fund supports that are directly related to your particular disability and the goals you tell the ndia about.  If you're goal is not to play sport than their not going to fund a sports wheelchair. 

Under keeping my independence and working as an artists I asked for a new wheelchair that was more compact and more suitable for teaching and attending workshops. 

Key One - Well defined goals

Is to know what your goals are; how you want to achieve your goals (activities) and what supports you will need. When you meet your planner they will know nothing about you, your natural support systems or what your life looks like day-to-day.  You could be living with your parents; a sole parent; married or just starting school.  

All of these factors are good to factor in how much support you need and what type of support you need.  So if you don't tell your planner you husband needs help to put you to bed then they don't know that.  Also most people we talk to understand things like when I am at school I need help to eat lunch and go to the bathroom.  Or I need community support because I have uncontrollable seizures. 

However few people know what my job as an arts worker involves. Basically my job involves supporting other arts to learn skills, produce and sell their art work.  So if I said I need assistance to get to and from work everyday.  (Work would be the activity I am undertaking)  And I didn't explain the most days that will be in Ipswich, but some days that is boarding a plane in Brisbane and arranging for a support worker from an agency top meet me at Hobart airport. 

So what does ndis pay for:

  • Only the support hours the support workers are with me.
  • Not my airfare and accommodation
  • Not the airfare for a companion or worker.
  • Not travel expense e.g. taxi to the airport. These are business expenses.
Some people feel disappointed when the ask for things that are not reasonable like airfare for a companion. 

If I said to my planner I wanted to  have a few are classes and sell my art.  The planner will not know I am a art teacher and the Queensland Support Studio Network Representative.  She will not know that I need to visit other art studios and need assistance while I doing studio visits.

So when your explaining your goals and activities be as specific as you can.  Don't say get to work,  Say to get out of bed, have breakfast showered and to get on the right train to travel to Brisbane and the need to tell the guard, I am getting off at Roma Street and my pa will meet me and we will walk to work together at my legal firm which I own. Your planner will know at what level your visual impairment is.

Key Two - Preparation 

So how are you going to introduce yourself to your planner?  In an hour or hour an a half you need to tell them 

  • Who you are:  Are you single or married, living at home, in supported accommodation or independently.  What you do? Your daily life; current support networks, current supports. 
  • Your goals - Dreams and aspirations, goals, daily activities and how you want to do those activities.
  • Tell them about all the equipment, medical aids and assist technology or animals you need
  • Tell them how you can maximised your Independence or improve your quality of life (e.g. behaviour management, speech therapy, modification to your home.)  
  • How you want to manage your funding and what assistance you will need. 

When I talk to others they express the frustrations that the know are number of artists all working in the same art studio and yet funded for the goal to sell artwork very differently.

So my questions would be:-

  • Were you specific about their art goals?
  • Did you say they were professional artists?
  • Did you make clear this was work not a hobby?
  • Did you explain what a supported studio was and how the artists is support by the studio?
  • Did you state or describe outcomes?
  • Did you state work hours in the studio? 
  • Did you take photos of their artwork?
The plan develop for you is based on your planners understanding of  who you are and what your needs are. What the activities you want to undertake involved and the types of supports you will need to do those activities.  Unless you give your planner this understanding they won't know your needs.

Your planner will ask you a series of questions to help them understand you support networks, you abilities and types of help you need.  If you say you want to play AFL football will they understand what you mean?

Endeavour Foundation found the more prepared a participant was for their planning meeting, the more likely they were to be happy with their plan. If you think you understood the planning process and understood the lingo (ndis terms) and what you were asking was reasonable and necessary (it related directly to your disability and your goals).  Then you do have the right to appeal and ask for a review by another planner,

If you going in and your really unsure on 

  1.  What you want to do?  You can't say want to keep doing .
  2. You need to explain what that is and express that as a goal.
  3. If you attend a service providers activities you goal could be to give mum and dad a break, make new friends and have fun. You want to do this in a group.
Key three - Advocate for yourself

Speak up!  Ask questions! Ask you things to be explained in a different way if needed.  When you attend your planning meeting or have it on the phone, have someone you trust and who knows you well be with you. They will be able to prompt you and remind you to look at any notes you have with you.  You can even ask someone to advocate on your behalf.

Your ndis plan is about YOU! The participant(s) is the person with the disability.  The ndis will empower you to make choices for yourself and your family.  All Australians make lifestyle choices; what school to send you kids to? What you want to be when you grow up?  Where to live? What sport or hobbies.  Sometimes choices are restricted by your disability or a family members disability and that is no longer OK?\

It is important that you understand the planning meeting is NOT for

  • Explaining your disabilities and what you can't do!
  • Your support providers!
  • What support workers! 
The questionnaires will determine what you can't do. Daily activities are general - play sport, work and meet friend.  Supports are one-on-one; group, respite, centre based, equipment and improvement in daily living.

By advocating for yourself or someone else you are letting the planner know this is what is important to me. 


So if your not happy or don't understand its ok to say something. This is why the ndis was introduced so you can have you say.  You don't need to worry about what other people think. You don't need to please a provider or worker.  You will not get in to trouble for just saying what your not happy with and that can we try something else.  That is what making choices is all about. 

So if you think about the things we've been talking about:

  • Speaking up for yourself
  • You were well prepared
  • Being clear about your goals and activities.
  • Spelling out you needs
  • Your supports request were reasonable and necessary
And you were not happy with your plan.  Then advocate for yourself instead of feeling like your lotto numbers didn't come up again. 

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