Friday, June 1, 2018

Thoughts on self-managering and self-directing NDIS

The National Disability Insurance Scheme gives families and individuals a choice on how their funding is administrated and their supports are planned.  I have chosen to self-manage my package and have also begun self-directing my own support staff. The structure of the ndis allows participants more choices around how, when and who supports them.  It achieves this through the development of individual ndis plans.  When you receive your ndis plan, you will have your ndis goals on top and then a break down of you budget and how you can spend your funding.

The ndis delivers individual choice

As a visual artists my goal during my ndis first plan was to expand my visual arts practice. Some of the ways I have achieved this are:-

  • My third solo art exhibition
  • Becoming a active member of Aspire Art Gallery
  • Visiting galleries in Sydney
  • Entering Art Competitions
  • Developing new skills

Under the ndis everyone will select different goals and directions according to their stage of life; their abilities and skills; interests and maybe where they live.  Playing AFL or even going to a AFL isn't on my ndis radar and having finished school and completing my degree, my goals do not relate to formal education.  

Once you have set your ndis goals you will choose how you wish you ndis package to be administrated.  This is around who will ensure you stick to your ndis budget and report back to the ndis. Choices include having the ndis do this for you; finding a host fund provider or self-managing you own package.  I chose to self-manage and was able to demonstrate to the ndia I had the ability to do so.

However, I did not want to follow-up invoices and do a lot of reporting myself so I asked the ndis to pay for a Plan Manager.  I all ready had a good working relationship with a service provider who were offering Plan Management under the ndis so this for me was a natural progression and worked well. There are other ways you might choose to self-manage and you should check out all the options before your planning meeting or next review. 

My second year ndis plan commences at the end of the month. My first goal under this plan is to develop my own support team which I will be self-directing my own support team.  I will still be self-managing my own ndis plan using my current Plan Manager.  I have elected to also engage most of my team through this same provider.

Currently my team consists of a team leader, who also assists me with both the administration of the ndis and my visual art practise. This includes: recruitment and training of new team members; rosters and submitting time sheets so staff can be paid. In my art business the team leader, assists with gallery submissions, deliveries and writing grants. I contracted another team member to assist me to work in my home art studio.  Both these team members assist me with my commitments in the Ipswich Arts Community. 

My studio support person also assists me with my social media accounts and setting up online sales points.  The third member of the team keeps my house in a orderly manner (ie cleaning, washing and cooking), assists me with my daily physio program and some elements of personal care.  Next week we are recruiting a forth member of my team to work nights. 

I have also engaged staff through Hire-Up, this providers back up when team members are ill or take leave, My team members need to be a little flexible as many of my art commitments are outside work hours. We are enjoying working and learning together as a team.

This week we enjoyed bonding during a screen printing session where they printed their own t-shirts with my latest cat design. 

These direct supports come out of my core funding.  How you use your core funding is flexible.  So I am no longer needing to balance my in home supports and my community access supports.  The ndis will pay for all reasonable and necessary supports from your core supports; including one-on-one support, group based supports, in home supports, non risk assisted technology supports and consumables.

Depending on your ndis goals and how you have asked to be supported to chose your daily activities you will have different budget areas such as Assisted Daily Living and Plan Management. It is supports I choose to access with these areas of my budget that cause the most organization and thus frustration. When you choose to self manage you can access supports through a ndis approved provider or a genetic provider (such as a cleaning service or gardener).

I find choosing to a ndis provider very frustrating.  Smaller more specialized ndis providers may not have a customer base to understand the different way participants can administer their funding and thus they want to feed all ndis purchases through the portal.  Few are willing to trust participants abilities to manage the lives especially their own funding.  Informing one provider three times how to invoice me, resulted to 2 weeks back and forth in order to complete on payment.  All this for a purchase value of $140.00 so tempting just to pay for this myself. 

This is just one of the many problems participants and service providers are encountering under the ndis.  Many participants find the transition process tedious and the choices and pathways are unclear.  Their are now significant delays for those seeking reviews. Careful planning can reduce you need to request a review. Both the planner and the participant are responsible for a well written plan and it is helpful for participants and those who support them through the process to be prepared for the planning meeting.

Understanding the ndis landscape and the choices available to you is a good start to building your ndis pathway. This includes how you wish you plan to be managed and who might be able to assist you.  Transition to the ndis is a complex process in a foregin land, which hasn't quiet develop a full set of laws and is still not fully funded.  Under these conditions knowing your own direction is best.  Regardless of who are; you knowledge of the current disability sector in your area; how well you think your ready for the ndis you should select a support person to go on your journey.

This could be a family member, friend or work mate.  While support workers, and service providers are key to putting a plan together and action it, they as bias.  If you are considering self-management and self-direction, I strongly recommend you talk to others who have or intend to take this pathway and any services your thinking of asking to support you in this role. 

This path will require some knowledge of HR law and the taxation system, so you should make sure your fully informed before stepping on to your  ndis pathways.  A firm ndis management foundation is key to a successful plan. 

Having said that there are delays in some areas due to demand and lack of resources include assessments and delivery of equipment.  25 days out the end of my first plan I still sitting in my same wheelchair and my new plan is still unconfirmed. 

We need to keep pressure on the government to fix and fully fund the ndis to ensure people with disabilities don't need to put their lives on hold. 

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