Hi there! My name is Deb Chilton and I have to milestones coming up in my ndis journey. One is this week I commence self-directing my own support and next week I have my first ndis review. The joinery over the last 12 months has been exciting, challenging. confusing and overwhelming at times. But most of all it has been empowering.
The National Disabilities Insurance Scheme is designed to provide assistance to people with disabilities and their families to participate in the life of their community is a way that they determine themselves. This can involve things like sport, recreation, developing life skills, education, training, community work and employment. The make up of an individual's ndis plan is determine by their goals. That is the activities they choose to take part in.
For me that involves visual arts
During my first plan my goal was to extend my visual arts practise. Here I am at the opening of my third solo art exhibition and I am regularly exhibiting my artwork at Aspire Gallery in Brisbane. The supports I chose to access are around enabling me to live independently in my own home; work in my home art studio, access my local art community and build my endurance through physio sessions.
From the start of my first plan I chose to self-manage through a Plan Manager. I independently chose the providers I would access and asked for a service agreement. Once the services and no. of hours were agreed on and a quote provided, I would sign the agreement and send a copy to my Plan Manager to set aside that money to pay those invoices to pay when they were sent to her.
I started by engaging supports from large disability support providers, like many participants I felt pressure to sign agreements quickly and stumbled along the unclear pathways to find the supports that I hoped would suit me. Often I felt I understood the ndis better than the services I was accessing, We are all still struggling to get our heads around how the ndis works and discover what services we can access with our packages.
Because I self-manage I am not limited to ndis providers, this has allowed me to access a domestic home maintenance team. The team has assisted me to build an accessible garden and grow my own fruit and vegetables and move the furniture to vacuum.
By self-managing you can either purchase supports in the traditional way. i.e buy 15 hours per week of community access support from provider Triple RRR. Or you can directly employ a support worker to support you to access the community for 15 hours per week. These hours should be spent achieving your ndis goals. At your first review you will be asked how your supports assisted you to do the things you said you would do. You must spend the money in the way set out in you plan.
Many participants are saying they do not understand these pathways and what choices they can spend their money on. Service providers have been slow to respond to the changes in the ndis landscape and I have had but re-enforced that the traditional models of supporting participants do not work for a misfit artists whose commitments vary from week to week.
Deciding to employ my own support workers has allow me to target staff who enjoy are and aren't going to be bored by my frequent trips to art galleries and art supplies shops and hopefully they will respect my artwork and handle it with care not stack it one on top of the other in the corner of my bedroom,
- Asking for a specific support worker or workers through a disability support service(s) for X hours per week.
- Contacting a specific worker through an agency.
- Using a private contracted support worker who has their own ABN.
- Using a self-directed service to employ your own team.
- Setting up your own pay roll and paying your staff yourself. Note: this means you will have obligations will the tax office and need to bank and later pay this money to the tax office.
There are laws around the employment of staff and engaging contractors, The environment in which you engage your support worker becomes a work place. Thus you need to follow work place and practice laws.
When I said I was going to engage my own support team people asked what if something goes wrong. Well that's why you take out insurance policies. If a support service can take out insurance so can you as an employer of support staff. All you need to do it surround yourself with people who can support you and advised you as you set-up your self-direction system. As I sort to set up my own team I found there will many choices.
So I talked to people who were self-directing and got them to outline their models. I talked to people who had worked in the disability sector and knew Human Relations laws well. I engage a coordinator to set up my pay-roll and train me to supervise a staff team and lastly I used a recruitment agency to find the right staff, Now I need to put my training into practise and train my team.
Tips for Pre-planning
1. Learn how to use ndis language. You will find a glossary of terms on the ndis website.
2. You will be developing a plan for the participant this is the person with the disability, which will focus on their individuals goals i.e. activities they will be engaging in.
3. Record the activities you or the person take part in now and the assistance they currently access.
4. The planner will help you express your daily activities and changes you want to make as goals.
5. The other part of the plan is about how you want to be assisted to undertake your activities.
6. Pre-planning is not preparing a shopping list of assistance you think you might need. Leave that until you have a budget and you understand how it can be spent.
However you can prepare for the next pathway step which is the choosing your support services by researching provides and talking to those who use those services. You might also talk to your current provider about how the can support you to achieve your goals.
If your thinking about self-managing and/self directing I recommend you talk to others about how they have set there self-directed supports or intend to set up.
How your funds will be administrated is also part of your ndis plan. Regardless of the choice you choose the ndis must assist with these costs.
Self direction is where you engage your own supports, e,g, you might pay a specialized support person to assist with daily therapy sessions or a team or support workers to assist you at home.
Self management puts you in control of the financial management of your plan. Or you might call this paying the bills.
You can choose to do both or either and you can also ask the ndis pay someone to assist you with self-direction and self-management. I use a provider who providers both Plan Management and Self-direction support, however you can choose different providers to do the two different processes or you can do it yourself.
My provider offers many different options and I choose to work with a provider to achieve my goal to self manager because I believe it provides guidelines and boundaries to work within. I also didn't want to do payroll.
When self directing you need consider your legal responsibilities. Like other providers there are legal responsibilities to your employees.
In terms of pre planning for the ndis, the more you can map out your goals and how that can be achieved the better you will be able to navigating pathways.
If worst comes to worst and it doesn't work out you can make changes or even asked for a review. Readers of my blog will know I am constantly making changes. Its going to take a while for us all to get our heads around the ndis.