Monday, January 1, 2018

NDIS: Choices and Changes

NDIS Choices  

The 1st of January marked the first year of the ndis roll-out. The  National Disability Insurance Scheme known as the ndis is the new way people with disabilities and their families are assisted to live in the community. The roll out began on the 1 st January 2017 and by the end of 2019 an estimated  400 000 people  will be support by the ndis across Australia. NDIS will assist people with permeate disabilities who are Australia citizens or residents, aged between 0 and 65 years old. You can check your eligibility and roll out dates in your area on ndis website.  

I became an ndis participant in June 2017 and like others I have been documenting my journey on my blog to share with others so they can learn from my experience.  For information on the ndis your first port on call is the ndis website. Reading the stories and experience of others can also assist in you ndis pre-planing.

One of the aims of the ndis is to promote individual choice. Previously people with disabilities have been limited in the choices they could make in terms of their care and supports. Others determined their needs and the types of supports individuals could access. Supports: What type; who provides it; when you access support and how often can now be determined by participants and their families by nominating their own goals. 

This doesn't mean you need to change your lifestyle, activities or providers, it simply means you can, if you choose. Although it is important know the language around disability support has changed.  People and families are now referred to as participants, this is because the key agenda of the ndis is to enable individuals to be more activity in their communities.

Supports now include a much wider range of items: some of these are: early intervention programs; behaviour supports, equipment, modifications and technologies; improving independence and lifestyle; physio, speech therapy, counselling and more. You may find it helpful to visit the ndis website for more ideas.

Setting your goals.

The simplest way to understand the ndis concept of goals is the things or activities you want to be involve in or the things you or your child wants to achieve. 

Climbing Mt Evenest may not be an ndis goal even if it is one of your personal goals.

Let me share some of my personal and ndis goals, that may give you some more understanding. 

My personal and professional goals:

  • To grow my visual art practice = creating artwork and exhibiting my art to sell;  In 2018 I want to develop and advertise my Esty online shop.
  • To grow my Ignite Artists Business = mentoring other artists.
  • Maintain my independence and wellbeing  = healthy lifestyle choices and mobility.  

In 2017 one of the ways I used my individual support was to engage a support person with landscape skills to assist me to build an accessible garden where I am growing my own vegetables.

So to map this out more for you:

  1. Personal goal: Maintain independence
  2. Activity: Healthy lifestyle = Build garden 
  3. NDIS goal: independence in the community = purchase a new power chair to get me into tight spaces like my new garden.

Well I think the ndis plan said the wheelchair needed to be designed for doing art in the community and it will do that too. My hope is to demonstrate how to go from your lifestyles goals to arrive at your ndis goals and then chose your supports. 

Making Changes Through ndis

The ndis can provide you with greater flexibility in the coordinator of your supports. Participants can now chose who manages and how the manage their supports. Many will chose to have the ndis mange their funding for them, whiles others after years of have no say ant a little my control.  Regardless of how you choose to have your funding manage you now have a say in who provides your services and supports.

I am self-managing through a plan manager in 2018 I am choosing to engage my own support team in the hope of gaining greater flexibility. My plan manager is also a support provider and a emergency/temp provider of support workers. This should provide me the best access to all my support needs. 

In addition self-managing provides me with greater choice of who I chose to provide my supports. I am no long tied to disability support providers to meed my support needs. This has allowed me to pay for specialist support skills like home maintenance. You can find out more about ways to manage your own funding on the ndis website. 

We are discovering those who prepare for being supported under the ndis are handling the change better than those who have no idea of what they want. Pre-planning can involve a few things:-

  • Gaining an understanding of the principles that underpin the ndis. (e.g. greater access to the community and enhancing your lifestyle).
  • Understanding the change in terminology. Learning to talk the talk. You will find these terms used on the ndis website.
  • Knowing what supports you access now and whether they are enough or not enough. The ndis will also ask about your natural(friends and family) support systems.
  • Knowing what type of activities you would like to do. (These will form your ndis goals).
  • A basic knowledge of disability support providers in your area on the website.
  • Knowing how you would like to be supported.

Your Plan

The ndis participant plan is the plan you will work from to chose your supports. Your ndis plan is about you and your family.

Your plan will have:-

  • Your ndis goals for the next 12 months.
  • How you funds will be managed.
  • You transport allowance and who it is paid to.
  • The supports you can purchase and a budget.

Purchasing Your NDIS Supports

This is the most significant change for participants. Participants can now chose the disability provider(s) they wish to access. Many participants including myself are still getting their heads around the changes and expansion of supports the can now access. So they have choose to remain with their existing providers.

Previously I has direct support services (core supports) from 4 different services and I had to use the type of supports decided by someone else. In-home support and community access hours were not inter-changeable. In a fortnight I would have 16 different support workers, to support me for different activities. This was one of the things I was keen to change under the ndis.

Each support service provider will do things slightly different. The policies and procedures of a provider should determine their service delivery. For example workers drive their own car or the have a company car. This is one of the things I found difficult in having four providers. I this was more complex as they we all providing similar supports. 

So in 2017 I chose to have all my supports deliver by the one support service.  I made my choice based on the type of support workers I wanted to support me. This is something I will carry forward in to 2018.  I feel the way people with disabilities and their families are cared for and supported has changed significantly in the last 30 years and the ndis provides the next chapter. I want to engage support workers who are ready for the next chapter.

We are now moving away from those traditional models of care (except we're individuals have complex high care needs) to a model where participants and family members are more active in choosing their own supports and how they want them to be providers.

Participants and families need to have a greater understand of the activities they wish to engage in and the way they want to be supported to do those activities for me that is individual support as I have a wide professional and community base networks. Other participants may choose group base activities to grow their friendship base.

Whether the activities you choose to engage in have change or not, be aware under the ndis you can change your service provider.  So before you sign your next service agreement check what services your current provider offers if you are looking for something different your provider may now be able to accommodate you or you may choose to explore other providers or community groups.

I belong to a number of community groups including local poets; Ipswich Arts Connect; my local church and Ipswich rocks. Now is the perfect time to explore new things. 

Under the ndis people with disabilities and their families should feel more empowered to ask for what they need and want. If that's not how you feel you might need to find yourself an advocate.  An advocate is a group or person who help you find your own voice without fear of repercussions. Everyone has the same right to voice the opinions and provided you request are reasonable most people will at least listen.  

There are a number of groups in the community who provide advocacy and support to enable you to have your needs meet. Such as Disability Community Awareness, Queensland Disability Network, Advocacy Queensland, and Regional Advocacy Ipswich Services.  Many state and Federal MP's are also able to put you in touch with people who can support you to have your say.

So the most important thing to do as you start 2018, is to take the next step or roll in your ndis journey.  It also may be the hardest, so don't be afraid to ask for help. 

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