Saturday, May 19, 2018

ndis - The art of self-directing.

Visiting Aspire Gallery for
Blank & White Exhibition

Under the ndis participants can now engage their own support workers in a number of ways.  The ndis can really be a world of opportunities full of new possibilities if you are prepared to do some leg work.

In my last post I shared the keys to preparing for the ndis. Here are my tips for preparing for the ndis.


  1. Map your current network - friends, family, support workers, services and groups you are involved in.
  2. Set your ndis goals - these are the things and activities you want the ndis to support you to do.  Supports include, equipment; modicifations; therapies, in-home support, respite care, community access supports and programs, accommodation and job training.
  3. Writing you ndis plan and goals - ndis plan's are about the participant and their aspirations for the future.  While family, friends, work mates, support staff and service coordinators can assist in the pre-planning progress, the plan and the supports need to directed by the participant or guardian. 
  4. Identify the gaps in your network.  e.g. participant has no support or planned activities on Thursdays.  Can this time be used to work on one of the participants goals and what type of support would be needed?
  5. Being clear on the life you as the participant or family want to live with assist you to advocate during your planning meeting. e.g. We want to continue to live as a family unit in our own home, and these are the ways we want to achieve this goal. a) respite care for our son 2 days a week, (son will attend day centre based activities 2 days a week), (b) support to assist with person care in the mornings 5 weekdays. (c) time for our son to access the community with a support person.  This is what will make life more enjoyable.
  6. Don't make you plan about money, buying hours or services you plan to access make the plan about the participant.
  7. Know and understand the ndis landscape and language.  Understand how service providers operate and which ones will make the participants goals achievable. 
  8. Select how the ndis plan will be administered a) the ndis; b) host provider; c) self-manage.
  9. If you or the ndis are not administrating you plan select who will host your funding and who will assist with the administration work.
  10. Select the other services you want to use and/or engage your own support team.


This is where you determine how you want to be supported; the times you require that support; how often you require certain types of support and who will support you.  You are responsible for how your budget is spent and who will report back how you've achieved your ndis goals. 

If you self-manage and/or your direct supports, some of your choices are:- 

  • To use an ndis approved support provider services.
  • Choose between using one support provider or several support providers.
  • You can also choose to use a genetic provider e.g. the physio down the road or a home maintenance services which are accessible to everyone.
  • Engage your own team of support workers, through a self-direct service provider.
  • Engage support workers with their own ABN known as contractors.
  • Apply for your own ABN and self direct supports and recruit and hire your own support team.
  • Or use a combination of these options.

My journey 

From the outset I determined to self-manage my own plan. I am a visual artists and published author who has in the past been a Board Member of a disability support service.  The ndis agreed I had the skills to undertake this responsibility. 

Previously I had been receiving direct support from 4 services and other supports from another 3 services. My transitioning to the ndis was a  chance have more control over who was coming in and out of my home and at what time. 

Previously I had had 16 to 18 different workers through my home in a fortnight period.  Once I transitioned to the ndis I was able to  determined my own supports and the times I would access those support. 

Ultimately my supports needed to work around my art practises as an emerging visual artists.  This was my primary ndis goal during my first ndis plan. 

I still wanted the protect I thought support service could provide through their policies and procedures.  However, I soon discovered many providers inflexible in the times they were able to provide supports.  Services are rightly determine to provide their staff with good working conditions and thus offer staff back to back shifts during their working day. Meaning participants need to be flexible with the times they recieve support.  Not real conjuctive to running a visual art pratice.

I remained with one support service provider, to provide all my direct support needs. This included in-home and community access support.  Previously I not been allowed to travel in staff cars and needed to rely on Taxis for transport, this make planning my medical appointments difficult.  Before signing my service agreement, I was assured this would change under the ndis. Well that never quiet got that part of the service agreement off the ground. I soon discovered my provider didn't have enough support workers to cover the hours I could access under the ndis.

Eventually I set out to hire my own workers and self-direct my own supports.  I discovered their was several ways I could do this and still have the protect of a provider for things like policies and procedures and insurance. My past experience of care and support workers is one of dread.  The thought of going out on my own and having no fall back was terrifying. 

Historically we come from a medical model of 'care' the legacy of institutionalization.  The system of providing 'care' which become known as 'support' implied people with disabilities needed looking after, protecting and company.  It was never envisions that individuals with disabilities could make valuable contribution to the communities In which they live.

ndis recognizes that reality.  This was clearly dread from organizations who work form the medical model.  'Who will protect the clinets? Who is the appointed umpire?'  Support  and care workers who have come from administration of the medical model, have lived experience tha leads them to care rather than empowering participants to achieve the goals.  This the type of service  want to purchase under the ndis. 

I thought long and hard about the type of worker I was looking for. I asked myself 'what was the common traits my favourite workers had?'

What I was looking for was:-
  • Workers who respected me as a working member of my community.
  • Workers who respected that their work place was my home and this reflected my values and lifestyle. 
  • Workers who knew that they would be respected and valued by me but would respect the professional boundaries of the role. 
  • Not workers, 'who thought the knew what their role was'; not workers; 'seeking to make my life better'; and certainly not workers who would wrap me in cotton wool',but workers who would empower me to reach my goals.

My ndis first plan goals were around extending my visual art practise.  I am also a passionate advocate for people with disabilities and their rights, especially their rights to equal opportunities under the law.  Despite the introduction of the ndis people with disabilities do not have a powerful voice to remind the community that Every Australian Counts.  Sadly may people with disabilities are unable to take part in the democracy system and nor can the make a complaint.  

People with disabilities have been made to feel grateful for any assistance they received, something care workers still want to feel even through they are paid.  During one the interviews I was informed that the candidate would be providing companionship.  I had to politely let the person know, I do not paid my friends and I have plenty of them.  She was not successful in gaining work as my support worker. 

My process lead me to three young women with their own ambitious and creative talents.  I was keen that applicants knew I was an artists and build my art practice was my ndis goal.  None of my workers have previously worked in the disability sector and each of them showed a willingness to learn.  Not surprising my team members have similar values to myself. 

Some said I would know the right people when I came across them because I knew what I was looking for and that came through in my advertisement.  In the end I admitted I did have some limitations due to my disability so I used a recruitment agency to screen the applications and protect my identify. 

Each of the 3 ladies support me very differently.  One providers in-home support and personal care; one is engaged as my studio support person and is engaged on a contract and the other leads this team and coordinators well. I have a fourth team member who has previously worker with me whom I have engaged through 'Hire-up'. These workers have the own ABN and can be engaged on a primate or causal biases.  

The team I am currently self-directing is made up of two employees who work for a service provider who provides avenues for ndis participants to self-direct; One team member who I contact to support me in my art studio; those who I employ through agency on a causal basis. 

The way I self-manage and self-direct is only one of the many ways open to participants of the ndis.  We no longer need to fit into a service model, we can now create our own. 

I'm doing this my own way, under the ndis. 

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