Supporting you onto the NDIS - CEO Report
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) rollout in the North East Melbourne Region is in full swing, and the next rollout in the Central Highlands is due to commence in January 2017.
CPSN have been proactive in responding to the changes the NDIS brings, and have been actively supporting our members through what can be a daunting process. Just as no two people with CP are the same, we realise that the experience of transitioning onto the NDIS will be different for each of our members. As a result, we have met with our members in the North East Melbourne Region, individually to discuss the NDIS process and how it will impact them. This individualised support has included, pre planning support to help members think about their goals and aspirations, preparation for planning meetings, attending NDIS planning meetings with members as their support person, clarifying information about processes and helping members work through any issues if they are not happy with their plan.
Please know that the CPSN will continue offering this level of support to all members as they roll out in each of the NDIS’ Victorian regions.
Given the scale of this reform, it is expected and reasonable to experience some level of disruption, so it is not surprising that the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) have had their fair share. While supporting our members through the transition we have come across various issues that have impacted on families and individuals. These include, issues with communication and process, through to inadequate and inaccurate plans. We are in regular contact with the NDIA, raising issues as they come up for members and supporting each of them to problem solve solutions. Additionally, CPSN has provided advice and feedback to the NDIA that has resulted in changes and refinement of processes and communication with the NDIA and the North East Melbourne Region Local Area Coordinators (LAC’s) Brotherhood of St Laurence staff.
While we have seen a range of issues, we are confident that some are likely teething issues which we hope will be resolved in time. We maintain our belief that the NDIA will provide the supports that people with disabilities and their families need to make a positive impact on their lives. The NDIS is going to change the landscape of disability services and how they are provided, but we feel that this reform is a long overdue step in the right direction, that will ultimately benefit individuals with a disability and their families.
Some of the issues that CPSN have encountered so far, include:
- Participant plans are being developed in different ways. Some people are receiving phone meetings with AHA information gatherers while other are meeting face to face with Local Area Coordinators (LAC). We don’t really know how this is being decided but we believe the general rule is that those with perceived less complex needs have face to face meetings with LAC’s who can also implement their plans and that those who are believed to have more complex needs have phone meetings with information gatherers who include provision of support coordination to implement plans. However, this is not a hard and fast rule and it is possible to ask for a face to face meeting if you are contacted by an information gatherer. You can also make a request for support coordination if you meet with a LAC.
- In some circumstances Support Coordination has not been offered or included in an NDIS plan. If you feel you need help with understanding your plan, exploring and connecting with programs and services and making service agreements we encourage you to ask for Support Coordination. Additionally, there is some confusion with Plan Management. In some circumstances, planners are not advising individuals that they have the option of an external organisation of their choice to provide this service. Instead, planners have only discussed the option of the NDIA managing individual’s plans or self-management. Remember that if NDIA manage your plan you can only purchase supports from organisation that are registered with NDIA (not private providers). Some planners are asking participants to justify why they don’t want NDIA to manage their plan, however it is important to remember that this is the choice of each individual and that you can make this choice without justification. CPSN is a registered NDIS provider and provides Support Coordination and Plan Management.
- Issues with the NDIS portal. This has impacted our ability to receive payments from NDIA for the supports and services we have delivered to our members. However, CPSN has made sure that we are able to continue to provide our members with services regardless of this and as a result our members have not been impacted.
- Once a plan is approved, a business support officer from the NDIA will make contact with either a support coordinator (of their choice) or directly with a service provider (if no support coordination is included in their plan). At this point a service agreement is created which allows for discussion around who will deliver what supports. From here, service bookings via the portal need to be created. This can be done either by the participant through the participant portal or by the organisation through the provider portal and this needs to be done for every service provider that is engaged. CPSN has not yet been able to create service bookings successfully and we have been told that the alternative is for the participant to do this via their portal. We encourage anyone with a plan to ensure that they set up their My Gov account and add NDIS to it, which will enable them access to the participant portal.
- Planners do not always have an understanding of the impact of CP, what your life is like and the care you need. The information that some of our members have to provide about their needs is not understood or misinterpreted, resulting in less that optimal supports and funding being allocated. Additionally, there has been confusion around how funding guidelines are interpreted and applied, and the review process when a participant is not happy with their plan. CPSN is working closely with decision makers to provide feedback on these issues and ensure that solutions are explored. We have worked with several members who have received a plan that does not provide adequate supports to meet their goals. In these instances, we have called the planner straight away to make enquiries and request an update of the plan or a formal review. Currently we are preparing for several updates and reviews of member’s plans.
- Often planners misunderstand the notion of “guidelines” and assume that the dollar amount within the guideline is a capped amount. Supports are not capped, so if a request for supports exceeds the amount in the guidelines then justification is required, i.e. a support letter explaining why this level of support is needed. This has resulted in supports either not being included at all, or an inadequate level of supports being included. This can result in the inability to achieve a goal or aspiration. CPSN has provided the NDIA with feedback on this matter and we believe planners are being educated to ensure that they have a better understanding of how the guidelines are to be used. It is important that participants are able to provide information that will articulate their goals and the impact of their disability, remembering that they are often talking to people who do not understand their lives and needs e.g. if you would like to access a recreational program such as Social Squad, M-Power or Camp SHARP, the cost of all the sessions you want to attend must be included in the plan. CPSN can provide you with this information to take with you to your planning meeting.
Some of the ways you can prepare
-Be prepared in knowing what you want and need before you have a planning meeting.
-Seek advice from a trusted source who is well informed prior to your planning meeting. CPSN arrange to meet you one on one prior to your planning meeting.
-Have a support person with you at your meeting.
-Have supporting documentation that can justify your request. This may only be needed for some requests.
-Ask lots of questions and write notes (or get your support person to do this).
-If you are not happy with the outcome we encourage you to go back to your planner and have this discussion with them, if you are still not satisfied seek advice and support from a trusted disability organisation. CPSN can provide free individualised advice and support.
If you have any questions about the NDIS, or you are preparing to transition and would like advice and support, please contact CPSN on (03) 9478 1001.
Cerebral Palsy Support Network