Transcript: Getting the Most Out of Your NDIS Plan Information Session 2

Transcript: Getting the Most out of your NDIS Plan – Part Two

RAMONA: Good morning, everyone, and welcome back to the getting the most out of your NDIS plan information session. This is part 2 of a two part session. My name is Ramona Mandy and I am the NDIS and special projects officer at the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, otherwise known as AFDO. I would like to commence by acknowledging the traditional owners of the various lands that we are on today, around Australia, predominantly in Victoria, I believe. This is a Victorian government funded project. The funding has enabled us to bring you this webinar.

I’m here in Melbourne on the land of the Wurundjeri, the Kulin nation and I would like to pay my respects to elders, past and present, of the various First Peoples nations around Australia and extend that respect to any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people here today.

I would like to acknowledge the past work and achievements of disability advocates. And I would also like to acknowledge the impact that this COVID 19 situation is having on people with disability and their families and to assure you of AFDO’s commitment of working with our colleagues in the disability sector to improve the situation.

Just a little bit of housekeeping. We are recording the webinar and part 1 on Wednesday and today’s part will be recorded and uploaded to our website in the very near future, so you can review it; and also let other people know about it.

Everyone is muted today. We can see who has joined but you won’t be able to see others.

I’m joined today by some colleagues assisting me. First of all, my colleague, Helen, will be assisting with helping me identify questions. We are also joined by Darren and Justyn from MAV, assisting with technical issues and driving the Powerpoint presentation for me.

If you are having any technical issues, please text or telephone Justyn on the following phone number: 0491 294 423. I will repeat, if you are having any technical issues, Justyn’s phone number for phone/text is 0491 294 423.

We are also joined by Kerry and Chelsea as the Auslan interpreters, from Auslan Services; and we are joined by Sandy from reporters ink, doing the captioning. So thank you to all of you.

On Monday we sent out an email with some information about an information pack and links to join. So hopefully you received that and obviously if you are here today you probably did receive it ; ) but the information pack was a download link where you can download the files. However, if you wish to receive that information pack in hard copy, please do reply to that email or contact us and let us know and we can post one out. Similarly, if you would like to receive that in large print or any alternative print, please let us know and we will get it to you as soon as possible.

That information pack has a set of handouts in it which give you more detail about the topics that I am discussing today. So you can read them at your leisure and refer to them and get more details.

A little bit about how questions will work today. We do have a lot of information to share with you but I hope to be able to pause occasionally to take one/two questions. If you do have questions and you are able to type them, please do so using the Q&A, question and answer button on your zoom platform.

If you are unable to write your question, please use the raised hand facility through Zoom; and that is done by activating the Zoom the raised hand button. If you are on a tablet or a phone, you may need to find the button for raising hand which is in the “more information button”; for example on the iPhone program. If you are on a Windows computer, you can raise your hand with alt Y, if you rely on keyboard commands like I do as a blind person using a screen reader. On a Mac it is option Y. If you are on the telephone, you can raise your hand with * 9. Those commands will also lower your hand, if you wish.

If we do have any raised hand questions and we are able to take them, they will be identified to me; and we will unmute you from our end.

A little bit of a re cap and the timeframe. Today, we will be going for about an hour and a half, finishing around 12.30 eastern standard time.

Part 1 was on Wednesday and in part 1 we covered understanding and managing your NDIS plan; we looked at finding and working with a service provider. Today, we will be covering a little bit more about working with service providers. We will have a guest speaker. We will then look at options, if you have any concerns. And then we will be looking at how to prepare for your next plan.

So I would like to move on now to looking at service agreements and service bookings. Could we have slide 2, please.

Let’s look first at service agreements. A service agreement is a formal agreement between a participant, that’s you as the person with disability or the family nominee person, and the service provider. They help you to make sure there’s a shared understanding of a number of things; the agreement outlines your agreement on what supports will be delivered and how they will be delivered; the costs of the support, in terms of the hours/dollars; keeping in mind, for example, if you are a self managed person, you don’t have to pay the standard maximum amount.

So the service agreement outlines the costs that you have agreed to pay for your support.

The agreement will also cover the start and end dates of the service. Now, some service providers may have what they call an open-ended service agreement. If you are likely to use that service provider for a number of plans; for example, as a blind person with a Guide Dog, I use the services of Guide Dogs Victoria. So my service agreement with them is open-ended. It doesn’t have an end date because I use their services year after year across a number of plans.

The service agreement also outlines the responsibilities and the rights of both the provider and the participant; such as the requirements around cancellations, how much notice you will give for cancellations, for example; things like being respectful to each other, giving notifications to each other if things change; and there should also be mention of how to resolve any problems or complaints that you may have.

It is a strong recommendation that you read or your nominee reads the service agreement carefully before you sign it; and keep a copy of it in a safe place because it’s always good to refer to it.

Now, it’s not compulsory to show your service provider your NDIS plan. Often service agreements will be accompanied by a plan but keep in mind you don’t have to show them the whole plan. But it is advisable to discuss with them at least the part of the plan that relates to the services or supports they are going to give you.

So if you have in your plan occupational therapy, it’s good to at least share that part with them; so they know what you have got in your plan. And it’s also important to talk to them about your goals in your plan. They may be required to write a report for your next plan review on how their services have helped you achieve your goals. So that’s why it’s important to share with them your goals.

You are not locked into a service agreement if you wish to end it. So if you do wish to end a service agreement, do have a look at it in terms of how that should be done in the notice; because different providers will have different stipulations of what they require. So that’s why it’s good to be familiar with your service agreement.

Keep in mind, also, some service providers won’t commence providing a service until they have got a signed service agreement because they need that service agreement signed before they can be paid; and the reason is that they need to create a service booking which we will talk about in a moment, by creating a service by creating a service booking, then they can get paid.

So in order to do a service booking, they will need a service agreement.

Can we have slide 3, please? .

Let’s talk about service bookings. You may need to create a service booking with the provider or they may do it for you. What this service booking does: it shows the agency, the NDIA, that you and the provider have agreed to work together. So service bookings aren’t the same as a service agreement. The agreement shows what you have agreed; the service booking shows the agency that you are going to work with each other; and that allows the service provider to get paid, particularly if you are agency managed.

What it does is: the service booking sets aside an amount of funding for that agency, for that provider. So, for example, you might have community access in your plan; and you might want some of those hours to be given by a service provider. So by doing a service booking, they can say, “Well, we have set aside 70 hours for this organisation to give us community access”; but that may not be all of the community access. So I guess it locks aside some funding for that provider.

Service bookings are really only needed if you are agency managed or if part of your plan certain supports are agency managed. As I said, that’s because they need to be paid.

Now, I would like to stop there and see if there are any questions. First of all, Q&A questions on service agreements or service bookings. I might just give people a moment to see if they want to type in any questions and I will ask Helen to let me know if there’s any Q&A around service bookings or service agreements. .

HELEN: There is a question. Dawn is asking: how can we find out the handout sheet that is referenced to this service agreement? Do you know which one it is?

RAMONA: Ah, off the top of my head, I’m not sure which number it is. I don’t have them in front of me. It may be around nine or ten. I’m sorry, I can’t give you specifics at this stage, Dawn; my apologies.

HELEN: Dawn, we will have a look into that and get back to you as soon as possible.

RAMONA: Yes.

HELEN: There’s one other question: is there any NDIA service agreement template in the website?

RAMONA: I don’t believe there is a template for service agreements. Different organisations have their own service agreements. They will often use similar ones but, for example, I have a service agreement with a provider that they have had customised for themselves. I do apologise for any noise in the background. I have a street sweeper passing by. Hopefully, it won’t be there for very long; and I hope you can hear me.

You are also able to create your own service agreement, if you wish to design your own. There’s no problem with that, providing you and the provider are happy with the same agreement. But usually providers have a template that they use but, no, there’s no particular template. Are there any other questions on the Q&A, Helen?

HELEN: There is one other question. It’s not on the Q&A. It’s coming through email. “Can I insert things I want in the service agreement?” .

RAMONA: Yes. Yes, you can. As I said, you can make your own but even if you are using your providers, you can insert things that are important to you; because it’s all about a shared agreement. For example, I know someone who has quite a compromised immune system. So even in the days before COVID 19, he inserted he asked for his agreement to stipulate that his service providers will not come and give him 24 hours notice if they are slightly feeling unwell; if they are unwell this any way, they would not in any way, they would not provide service to him, because it was face-to-face service. So that was something that they were very happy to put in.

Now, I just wanted to note that what we are talking about today are general theories/practices of how NDIS works. I would like to acknowledge that there have been a number of changes that the NDIA have made around the COVID 19 situation, such as being able to possibly get adaptive technology; if you need to get an iPad, for example, to get Telehealth service; if you need to get some fitness equipment because you can’t go to the physio; if you need to get support coordination and haven’t been given it. For example, there are many quite a lot of other measures that have been put into place temporarily. I won’t cover those today because they are quite detailed but very useful; and I would recommend that you look at the COVID 19 information page on the NDIS website to get more detail; or speak to your LAC or support coordinator. The NDIS website, just as a reminder, is NDIS.gov.au; and the contact centre phone number, if you would rather telephone them, is 1800 800 110; and, of course, you can go through the relay service if you have a hearing or speech impairment; you can contact that same contact centre through the National Relay Service.

So, coming back to service agreements: yes, these are you can insert things that are important to you.

Are there any other text questions? Otherwise, if there aren’t, are there any raised hands questions?

HELEN: Ramona, there is a question. “If you are plan managed, can I still make adjustments on cost and not use NDIS cost?” .

RAMONA: Yes, you can. If you are plan managed. You can’t just pay above the limit, the price limit for prices. So if you are self managed, you may negotiate to pay a higher price or a lower price. For example, if I am self managed and I want a particular worker and I might negotiate, “If I pay you above the price limit, would you agree to come at 11 p.m. at night; or would you agree to work every day?”, or whatever my requests are, I can do that.

As a plan managed person, you can’t do that. You are able to negotiate lower but not above the price limits stipulated in the price catalogue, support catalogue. I do recommend, I mentioned it on Wednesday, do download the price guide and the support catalogue. You will be able to get the limits of the pricing from the catalogue.

Now, are there any other questions? Before we move to our guest speaker?

HELEN: One other question, Ramona, is: do you need to have an SA with every provider?

RAMONA: If you, uhm if you are agency managed, yes, you will, because they need to then create a service booking to be paid. I think you don’t need to necessarily have a service agreement with every provider. For example, if you are just buying technology, you may not need a service agreement with the supplier to get that technology, for example. However, I think if you are getting services like training, therapy, support work, it can be a good idea to have a service agreement. But it isn’t necessary. For example, if you are getting support work through maybe an online platform like what I mentioned on Wednesday, you don’t need to have a service agreement there. But at the same time, if you are signed up through an online platform like Hireup or Mable, you effectively do have an agreement by signing up; and agreeing with your worker there. So it’s not strictly called a service agreement but you do have some sort of agreement.

So I think it is good practice to have an agreement in writing just to protect you there. But it is not absolutely compulsory. Okay, so I might ask now if our guest speaker has joined us; and then I will introduce her, if she’s with us? .

….

HELEN: Ramona, she seems to have been delayed a little bit. Is it possible that we go to the next slide after that and then we come back to Tania?

RAMONA: Absolutely, thank you, yes. And, Helen, if you could just let me know. I will pause periodically to see if our guest speaker has joined us.

Could we have, please, Darren, slide 5? We will be looking at NDIS reviews.

So there are three types of NDIS reviews. There are internal reviews. That is the process where the NDIA completes a process if you are unhappy with a decision they have made, and you have requested that they reconsider that decision.

Then we have a plan review. A plan review is sometimes called a scheduled plan review; and that is a meeting between you and your NDIS rep; where you review your current plan and how it’s going and then you discuss your next plan.

And the next type of review is called an unscheduled plan review. That is a meeting between you and the NDIS rep as well, that takes place earlier than when you were due to have your plan review. And the purpose of that is to discuss a replacement plan to your current plan. It’s usually done, it is usually requested, if you have had some significant change in circumstances. For example, maybe someone’s moved out of your home that was helping you, so you have different supports; maybe there’s been a death in the family and that’s changed things for you. Any significant changes usually will prompt an unscheduled review.

Can we have slide 6, please? .

Let’s look in more detail at internal reviews. So, some NDIA decisions can be reviewed, not all of them. But these decisions that can be reviewed are known as reviewable decisions. And if you think an NDIA decision, one of the ones that can be reviewed about you is wrong, you can request an internal review of that decision.

So it might be a decision like an access decision; maybe you have been denied access; or maybe you haven’t got a support in your plan that you think should be there. So internal reviews are also called “a review of a reviewable decision”. So it is a bit of a mouthful, RORD, but it is easier just to call it an internal review.

When you get your plan, you will get information about how to request an internal review. An application of an internal review must be made within three months of receiving your notice; your plan or the decision. If you have got a decision from NDIA saying, “You were denied access”, you have to request that internal review within three months of getting that. The NDIA staff member who works on your internal review won’t be the same person that was involved in the earlier decision. But that person doing the review may want to talk to you directly as part of getting information. So they might want to hear from you, talk to you about how you see it, why you believe it should be changed.

You can make a request to the NDIA for an internal review by phone, by email, by post; or also in person when we’re allowed to re visit. At the moment with COVID 19, we are not able to do a lot of face-to-face; but once we are, you are allowed to even drop in and request a review.

In the information pack, there’s a fact sheet from the NDIA with more detail about applying for an internal review.

Also, in the pack, there’s an information sheet from an organisation called RIAC, I mentioned them on Wednesday as well Rights, Information and Advocacy Centre. RIAC have a whole resource on their website to help you with making an internal review. And part of that resources kit includes a checklist of considerations when you are planning a review. So that actual checklist from RIAC is also in your information pack. It is really easy to read and worthwhile if you are considering making a review.

So the person at the NDIA who does the review, when they do it, they will either decide to change the original decision or not to change it. And you will be given notification in writing about that outcome. So if you are still unhappy with that outcome, you can then apply for a review to be done by the AAT which stands for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The AAT is a separate body from the agency. It is an independent body; it is a tribunal. And they will look into it. But keeping in mind they are independent; so they are not obliged to have the same decision made as what the agency did. But you must apply to the AAT within 28 days of getting that result of your internal review.

Can we have slide 7, please? .

Let’s talk briefly about complaining about the NDIA. Making a complaint to the NDIA is different from requesting an internal review. And to make a complaint about the NDIA you can go to the NDIS website and go to their “contact us” link, where there’s more information about giving feedback and complaints. So it may be that you are unhappy with how they have dealt with you, how they have dealt with your review. It might be something else that you are unhappy about with them; not the decisions they have made but you may have another complaint.

You can also make a complaint over the phone or in person, once again when it is possible to visit them at an office; or you can send an email. That email is feedback@NDIS.gov.au.

If you need help to submit an internal review, there is support available through different organisations like advocacy organisations and the information pack also contains a handout on more about how to make complaints, how to request an internal review, and how to find disability advocacy organisations.

Can we have slide 8, please? .

So I would like to just touch briefly now on the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. That is also known as the NDIA Commission for short, keeping in mind it is very different from the NDIA agency. It is the NDIA Commission and the name “quality and safeguards commission”, it explains really what it’s about. It is an independent agency. It’s been set up to ensure that your supports that you are getting from service providers are good quality and safe.

It also makes sure that service providers are following certain rules. So if NDIS providers are registered, they have to do a certain code of conduct. But if they are unregistered, they also have to follow a certain code of conduct that their services are safe for you and quality.

So the Quality and Safeguards Commission handles any complaints that you have. So if you have services that you don’t think are quality and you don’t think are safe, do contact The Quality and Safeguards Commission. And there’s more information about making complaints to them in our fact sheet; also in the information pack.

Now, I might just check in again, once again, if there are questions, both on the Q&A around any complaints or reviews, before we go on to talk about “planning for your next review”? Helen, are there any questions on that topic within the Q&A section, please?

HELEN: Ramona, no oh, I do have a question. Uhm, how much can they expect families to do?

RAMONA: Well, this is probably a good question that covers both for your plan review but also if you have got any complaints or internal review. Your plan is based on your needs/supports; and so every family is different just like every person with a disability is different. So if you think it’s unreasonable for them to expect a certain support, then you should let them know about that. What I mean by that, there are certain things that are reasonable to be expected that families will provide. For example, parents may bathe and feed young children but if your child is a grown adult, it may be unreasonable that you have to lift them and shower them every day. It may be unreasonable that you have to leave work so that you can take them to all the daily activities and therapies, et cetera.

Now, it doesn’t mean families don’t want to do those things, but wouldn’t it be nice if mums and dads and brothers and sisters could be just mums and dads and brothers and sisters and have that family relationship, which didn’t dominated by the carer relationship? It doesn’t mean that people with disabilities need to feel like they are a burden; not at all. I know families give their support willingly and with love; but at the end of the day you would like to just sit down and be a parent with your child; and you may be too tired. You may have a sore back, for example.

So the impact of caring may be different for different people. If you have a condition, yourself, and you are not able to continue lifting your child because they are now a 15 year old young man, then this is the sort of thing that you need to bring up at your planning meeting; because it may be unreasonable for you to do it because of your own circumstances.

So the NDIS is all about also helping families to be back doing family things but also maybe resuming work. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could go back to doing work, for example, rather than having to stay home because you need to? .

So it’s not about feeling bad; it’s about looking at what’s reasonable and then complaining about that if you think it’s unreasonable. So I hope that answers your question a little bit? Okay. Do we have any other questions around making complaints or the Quality and Safeguards Commission?

HELEN: Yes, no other questions at the moment, Ramona.

RAMONA: Okay. Do we have Tania joining us yet? .

TANIA: Hi, Ramona.

HELEN: Yes, would you like Tania to join us.

RAMONA: Yes, I would like to introduce her. I have asked Tania Curlis to give us a speech to talk to us for about 15/20 minutes, to talk on the topic of how her organisation, Tandem, can help you with the NDIS issues. But before I hand over to Tania, I would just like to emphasise how AFDO is a disabled people’s organisation and as so, we do support very strongly the importance of the existence of DPOs, advocacy organisations and peer support groups.

We are not a service provider. We are a DPO. And we really think it’s important that these other organisations do exist because in doing so they give us the information we need as people with disabilities or people with lived experience such as families. It gives us advocacy; so we can have our voice heard and our rights voiced. So it’s important for that respect and it’s also important for peer support because through peer support, we get understanding and socialisation and a sense of belonging to a community. So that’s generally speaking why we believe in the existence of these organisations. Tandem is one such organisation. But I will let you Tania tell you more about Tandem. Welcome, Tania, and the virtual floor is yours.

TANIA: Thanks Ramona and I must apologise, everyone. I have decided to take a moment and sit in a park. So if you hear the occasional duck, I apologise : ). COVID 19 has brought some interesting…as much as we can to this brave new world that we are living in. And I really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you all about this very important topic of supporting people to have the best access within their NDIS plans, to implement the best possible life for themselves with their families.

Ramona and I have had quite a number of good conversations in terms of making the best of NDIS and I have learnt a lot from her approach and it’s great to meet some of you from AFDO and those of you connected with AFDO’s networks.

So my role within NDIS transition has been about, I suppose, 18 months with Tandem and we are coming to the conclusion of the funding for the NDIS transition work, where the State Government’s been assisting organisations to support families and individuals’ participants into the NDIS. And I suppose knowing that this part of our funding is coming to an end has been a really time of reflection around what’s worked well, and what the ongoing work might be for all of us who are trying to support within our service provision directly or within our advocacy work, for people to have good outcomes in their lives.

And I like to keep things pretty simple. It’s really around that client-centred approach, that participant-centred approach; and thinking through what really matters to this individual and this family in front of me and how can we support the NDIS actually servicing that; rather than inviting families to jump through hoops to access things that matter to them or for participants to have to do that.

Within Tandem, we have put together a number of resources which you can find on our website to assist people with access requests and to assist people to make sense of the NDIS system; and we can certainly take a call on our phone line to assist people directly if they have issues arising with their service provision or if they feel that something that’s happening in their supported independent living isn’t fair/reasonable. We can link people to other resources and other services.

But in the main, what we tend to do is start from wherever that person is situated and work out the current resources that they have in their life and work out whether those things are working for them or not, as a way of, I suppose, building that relationship.

I suppose I wear two hats because I am also in private practice and I see what’s working and not working for people in their NDIS plans in a range of different settings. One of the things that can be very confusing for people is that they are not really sure what the buckets of money are for and what they can utilise. So it’s really helpful if service providers demystify that and make it really clear; not just in service agreements but in plain language in conversations, “what is it that can be offered and what are the boundaries of what we do; and where does that intersect with someone else’s role?” I find that when that piece of work is undertaken, families and participants can better clarify the gaps in the services that might support them. So they might realise that they are asking for something from, say, for example an activities program that might sit better within therapies. If we are listening for those moments of where we could invite someone to consider an additional service or something that’s more appropriate to them or if we are listening for when they are ready for some change in their life, I think that’s the kind of service navigation support that participants and families really respond well to.

We know that the packages vary greatly according to a person’s disability specific need; and certainly within mental health, we tend to find that packages may be on the lower end of what is funded. So supporting people to know how they might get value, which of the things they might fund within their plan are their priority areas, and finding out from them what has worked well in the past; what would we like to do more of. These are the sort of things that I think help clear the path and translate what can be a complicated idea of funding on a piece of paper into real and tangible supports in a person’s life.

And that’s where it becomes more meaningful.

Within Tandem we do represent people at their planning and review meetings; and we will continue to assist in those ways beyond when the State Government’s funding finishes up in June. Our work to support with individual advocacy and supporting individual needs will continue on, which is fantastic. We have just had some announcements about continued funding.

However, the need always is much, much greater than what we can ever truly service. So I think as a first point of call, directing people to services local to them is a great starting point. And then if we find that they really are not accessing the things that they should be entitled to or that there are more roadblocks than necessary and there’s a need for, perhaps, a review written up or some support within a meeting, that’s when I think Tandem can really assist greatly; and even just to bounce around ideas about what might be possible within a person’s life.

Many people in the mental health space, participants who are receiving the NDIS, it might be their first ever experience of receiving funding to assist them in daily life. So that’s something that’s fairly unique to this group of people; where in disability, people perhaps had more experience much funding packages and past systems offering a little bit more in the homefront.

So inviting people to consider what the pain points are in their life, where does conflict tend to arise between family members, if they are living with others; is there anything one/two people heavily relied upon; could we reduce their workload and increase a person’s quality of life by providing them more age appropriate companions to be with them in particular situations or offer driving and that sort of thing.

A lot of our work with families is asking these sorts of reflective questions; and these are things that any service can begin to do; particularly if you are finding families and participants have some ongoing difficulties. I suppose the sort of things that we see are that, uhm, perhaps not having enough people in the care team means that there’s a heavy reliance on one/two people; and the risk of burn out of those staff members. Or particularly within COVID 19, that people are just isolated overall; and needing greater companionship, which is very difficult for all of us at the moment. And I hope you are all doing reasonably well out there within this difficult time. Uhm, yeah.

Ramona, were there any particular things that you would like me to add, or any questions that you had for me?

RAMONA: No, not in particular, but I think it’s great that you have mentioned, particularly in the psychosocial disability sector, it can be quite a new thing, this NDIS support. So it’s good to acknowledge that. Thank you. I wonder if you would like to take any questions from the Q&A and the raised hands or would you .

TANIA: That would be great. And I apologise doing this from my phone. The audio to hear you is not so great. So I am hoping that you can hear me ; ) .

RAMONA: I am hearing you very well, very clearly.

TANIA: Great.

RAMONA: Just as a reminder to people: if you could please type any questions in the Q&A section. If you are not able to write your question, you are welcomed to raise your hand using the raised hand button. If you are relying on keyboard commands, that is alt Y on a Windows computer; options Y on a Mac; and if you are on a telephone it’s * 9. If you wish to ask a question through the raised hand, you will be identified and then we will unmute you.

So we might take the Q&A questions first, if there’s any; and Helen will be able to relay those. Otherwise, if there are no questions, Tania, you might like to just give out the contact details for Tandem, so that people can contact you .

TANIA: Absolutely. So I have just got a little flyer going old school here, so family and friends of a person with mental health issues are welcomed to called Tandem on 1800 314 325. That is our number. Our website is Tandemcarers.org.au. And we do have quite a bit of information which is our e News which we distribute around the State and that is a great resource for families and individuals. We certainly are well-connected to a range of other peak organisations and interest groups in the mental health space and try to share information broadly around what’s happening in support groups and other local options for carers.

So really appreciate this opportunity to speak to you all. I will just leave you with one parting funny it is a little Southpark meme and it says .

RAMONA: Before you do go .

TANIA: It says “it won’t happen overnight but it will happen if you are eligible with your NDIS plan”. And it’s got a picture of I don’t know who these guys are because I’m not cool enough to understand the Southpark kids ; ) but we just have to hold a bit of hope that we are, what, six weeks into this. We have learnt a lot. We have to keep teaching each other and supporting each other, to make the most of it. I certainly know in my family situation, I support a son who is on the NDIS; and his life is far richer and far more independent for the experiences that he has through the tremendous services and individuals that he’s befriended along the way. It can really be a quite a rights based approach to things and the way it’s catering to individual’s needs. If we are flexible in our thinking and support people to consider what would really make a difference for them. So I think that’s our goal in the next little while and you can rely on the services of Tandem. We work closely with VMIAC, as the organisation that worked directly with consumers who also do a great job with participants. So thanks again .

RAMONA: Tania, thank you. Before we let you go, we will see if there are any questions for you. If anyone missed Tandem’s contact details, we can provide it, if you want to contact us at Disability Loop. But, Tania, whilst we are seeing if there’s any questions on the Q&A or raised hands, I will take presenter’s liberty and ask you the first one.

One question that comes up often is: people asking the difference between having a mental health condition or mental illness versus this new term “psychosocial disability” well, it’s sort of new in NDIS land. Do you want to just briefly explain .

TANIA: Sure. So the definition “psychosocial disability” is a way of describing that the issues a person face actually link to the way the world responds to them; and that the environment does not support them to contribute. So it’s really looking at a person’s barriers to accessing community because of the difficulties they face.

I think it’s putting more responsibility on, uhm, yeah, just the environment changing to cater to them. It really links to what’s happening in a person’s mind as well as what’s happening in their social environment, that limits them from true participation. It’s used interchangeably with mental health issues but I think it is a term that stems from occupational therapy, perhaps. And a lot of the NDIA criteria does mention “psychosocial disability”. So within that, we might see people with neurological impairments that link to their cognitive functioning. So if people have a slower way of processing information or if this is harder for them to grasp the memory; if they are having ideations that interfere with their ability to communicate with others all of those things make daily life much harder for them.

So it can be really helpful for sometimes the person to have someone to assist them to organise their day or to prompt them in their daily activities; or even just using the supports flexibly for someone to give a call and say, “How are you going? Are you hitting off on that heading off on that appointment this morning? I will come and pick you up in half an hour.” It is little things that help a person get along in their day.

RAMONA: Fantastic. Thank you. So we will might see if there’s any questions. Let’s start if there’s any raised hands questions. But I do ask we do have quite a few things more to cover, so if you do have have any questions, we might be able to take one/two. But please keep your questions brief and I am sure Tania would be happy to take it further, if you need further discussion afterwards. So I might start asking Helen, are there any raised hand questions, please?

HELEN: Hi, Ramona, there’s no raised hand questions at the moment, but I do have two Q&A questions. So I will ask those.

RAMONA: Thank you.

HELEN: Annastacia says, “I’m sorry I missed Tania’s intro. Does Tandem provide service coordination?

TANIA: Unfortunately, know. So Tandem, we are the peak organisation for mental health family and friends of the as a peak organisation, our support is free and funded by government and it is more around individual advocacy. So we have advocates in the clinical services side. So, for example, where a family member is concerned about an upcoming tribunal hearing or a community treatment order, things like that; or not feeling that their voice is heard particularly well in the clinical system. And then separately our NDIS and carers support team focuses more on the experiences of people in their home/life and we can provide secondary consult to clinicians as well around NDIS-related wording or ways to strengthen and support evidence to improve the resourcing that comes through in an NDIS plan.

So we are not providing service, support coordination or any of those direct NDIS services; but we are assisting people at points of access and understanding how to implement a plan. So providing training and support and advocacy.

HELEN: Thanks, Tania. Dianne would like to know: do you know where my son can access an ongoing advocate for when she’s no longer able to do this for him? He will not be able to manage NDIS, himself; will need someone familiar and ongoing?

TANIA: I think what you are raising there is a really key reason as to why support coordination from skilled professionals is a real advantage because it’s not possible for a family to advocate alone. While we know that the support coordination role is not supposed to be advocacy, the effectiveness of how well the services are administered does play a role in whether the appropriate therapies, for example, are available to write up comprehensive reports; whether the NDIS review happens in a timely way; and all of the other little bits and pieces that fit together to make use of the funds to demonstrate the person’s circumstances and needs. Without that ongoing facilitated conversation around, “What would you like this week?”, or, “What can we put in place for you; is that working?”, it’s very, very difficult for participants to manage on their own; and particularly so within mental health and other similar areas where there’s neurotological impairment and people are really struggling to make sense of the system, itself, alongside receiving supports from it.

So there are a number of advocacy organisations and if you get in touch with us at Tandem we would be happy to put you in touch with an organisation in your area; or just talk through some of the problems that are happening in this particular circumstance that you have raised and see how we might assist you directly.

RAMONA: Thank you, Tania. I am conscious of time .

HELEN: There are a couple of questions that have just come through but what we might do, Tania, is it alright if we email you those questions .

TANIA: Please do, that would be great. I would be happy to answer any further questions, for sure.

HELEN: we have run out of time.

RAMONA: So, Tania, thank you. I do appreciate you sharing your time and knowledge with us. You referenced “hope” before. So whilst we have got organisations like Tandem doing the great work that they are doing, we do have a lot of hope. So thank you again. You are welcomed to stay if you want but we do understand if you would rather stroll around that park ; ) .

TANIA: Thanks so much. I am conscious of the wind noise and the ducks : ). It’s a bit funny here. But, look, I really appreciate participating. I might head off now, if that’s okay?

RAMONA: Okay.

TANIA: But look forward to seeing some of you at future events and keeping the conversation going; and I do think it’s because of people with lived experience and family experiences alongside participant experiences, that we are shaping the NDIS to be much more flexible. And you might have mentioned already, Ramona, just a last little plug: for those families and individuals who are really struggling within COVID right now, the option to purchase equipment for sporting or recreational activities at the moment, while people are feeling quite shut down and unable to get out and do things, is an option to discuss with your support coordinator or to look into. And you are welcomed to call us at Tandem and find out a bit more about some of those changes towards greater flexibility in plans; and also that option of a tablet priced under $750 to access therapies remotely if you need.

So these are all things that are fairly recent changes; and, yeah, just happy to assist people to answer basic questions or more complicated things. Our phone line is available to you. Thank you.

RAMONA: Could you just recite the website and phone number again before we let you go.

TANIA: Of course, it’s 1800314325.

RAMONA: And the website? No, I think we have lost Tania for the website yes, the website.

TANIA: 1800314325.

RAMONA: Thank you. And we can pass on any of Tania’s details again if you want to contact AFDO Disability Loop. Thanks again, Tania.

TANIA: Thanks everyone, bye.

RAMONA: If I could ask Darren to bring up slide 9, please? I would like to now talk about preparing for your NDIS plan review meeting.

Your plan review is a conversation that you have with your NDIS representative that might be your LAC or your early childhood/early intervention, ECEI worker, to draft your next plan. Normally, it can be done face-to-face or over the phone. However, at the moment, plan review meetings are being done where possible by phone for obvious reasons around COVID 19. You are welcomed to include any family members or friends or advocates or another support worker at that meeting.

Normally, when we are able to meet face-to-face safely, we do at AFDO encourage you to request a face-to-face meeting because it helps that rep get to know you better and get to know your needs.

What I am going to do now is ask that we show I have got another video lined up for you. It is called “preparing for your NDIS plan review meeting, or an NDIS scheduled review”. So they are the same thing. It only goes for about five minutes but I do want to say the video is presented by an organisation, an LAC organisation in Queensland called Uniting LAC, but all the information applies to anyone going through a review meeting. So it’s not just particular to Queenslanders, but it’s a nice succinct, informative video. So that’s why I am keen to show you this video. So when we come back, we can take questions. But, yeah, if we could have that video now, thanks, that would be good. .

VIDEO PLAYED.

This video is about preparing for your NDIS plan review, also known as your scheduled plan review. In this video, we will cover a few things to help you get ready for your scheduled plan review meeting; with one of our Uniting team members. This includes, “What is a scheduled plan review; what happens at one; and when to book it; what documentation to bring and why; and why it’s important to start preparing for your review meeting six months out; what is an NDIS scheduled plan review”.

Hi, Tory here from the united local area coordination program. When your NDIS plan is approved, your NDIS funding will be allocated for a period of time. You will have a plan start date and a plan review date. This will then create what is known as a plan period. This plan period is the time in which you have to use your allocated funding.

Towards your plan review date a meeting will need to be booked.

What will happen at my scheduled review meeting?

Your scheduled review meeting with a uniting area local area coordinator, LAC, will be much like your first NDIS planning meeting. In addition to what we would look at in your first NDIS planning meeting, at your scheduled review meeting we will also look at what has worked and what hasn’t during the previous plan period; any changes that have occurred in your life; what your goals are for your next plan period; what you have achieved and what you would like to work towards in the future; what supports you will need to achieve your new goals; and any supporting documentation you might need.

When should I start planning for my scheduled review meeting?

At the uniting LAC program we encourage you to start preparing for your scheduled prepared plan meeting six months before your plan review date. This is because you may need to collect supporting documentation or reports from therapists or treating professionals and this all takes time to coordinate. One of the main reasons for this could be due to long waiting lists to see the required practitioner. It is best to start planning and having these conversations with them six months from your plan review date.

What information should be in my reports from therapists or service providers for my plan review?

During the plan review process it is important to bring the most current supporting documents to the meeting. These might include progress reports, new assessments, quotes or letters from allied health professionals or other relevant specialists. You may ask your service provider to supply a report or progress notes, showing how their work has helped you to achieve the goals in your plan. Generally, progress reports should include a summary of the supports provided to you during the plan period; how the support has assisted you to work towards and achieve some of your goals; whether you have been linked to any additional informal or mainstream supports, barriers including…and the strategies put in place to resolve these. Any risks identified to you or others, any evidence or other information that may be relevant for the NDIA to consider when determining reasonable and necessary support. It is important to remember that the NDIS is an insurance-based scheme and therefore requires evidence to continue and provide funded supports to help meet your goals. It is important that these reports and assessments are outcomes focussed. Some things to consider are: what is the support or therapy which has been provided? Has it’ been successful and does it need to continue?

When should I make an appointment to meet with the uniting local area coordinator? Our local area coordinators understand that expired plans can be extremely unsettling. We want to get you as prepared as possible for your scheduled review to avoid any delays. Our uniting LACs will get in touch with you eight weeks before your plan review date to make an appointment with you. This will give us time to gather your information and for you to have any questions answered.

Remember to have all of your relevant documentation ready at the time of the meeting. This will make sure your plan can be developed shortly after the meeting. If you haven’t heard from a uniting LAC eight weeks before your review date please contact your uniting local area coordination office to make an appointment.

Are there any resources that can assist me to prepare for the scheduled plan review meeting?

Yes, there is a great resource that the NDIA has released and it is available on the NDIS website. Booklet 2, planning, has been designed to help capture any information to assist you to prepare for your scheduled planned review meeting. You can find it here on the link provided or search on the NDIS website for booklet 2.

Thank you for watching.

….

RAMONA: Great. So thank you. I hope that was helpful in terms of reviews. I will, once again, take questions. So whilst you are writing up any questions you may have around reviews, I want to give you a couple of tips that I have learnt over the years of being a participant, myself.

Firstly, a tip for all the carers and families out there: it might be worthwhile getting a carer statement to take with you to your next review meeting. This isn’t something that’s compulsory but it can be useful to help your NDIA rep, be it a planner, LAC or ECEI person to better understand the impact of the care that you do on you and your family.

You can get tips around how to develop a carer statement from organisations like Carers Victoria and there are other equivalence, Carers in Queensland or New South Wales et cetera. So it may be organisations like Tandem that Tania works for, that we have just heard from.

So a carer statement can be useful, helping you to reflect on your story before you go into the planning meeting.

Remember, also, that the planning meeting isn’t a confrontational situation. That representative usually wants to work with you to draft a plan that’s for you. Of course, that depends on the level of knowledge, I guess, and training that that LAC may have; and we are seeing training in place to improve the situation. I’m not pretending that it’s a bed of roses; that there are problems; and people have had to really educate, I guess, LACs about disability sometimes. But things are improving but the more you can be armed with information, you can help your LAC to understand your situation. So a carer statement is really useful.

Another tip I would suggest is try to get quotes, either before your meeting or afterwards, once you have got your plan approved, that lasts for 120 days or longer. I will give you an example. And the reason why it’s good to get long quotes where you can is because sometimes the NDIA can take a long time to approve.

I had a need for some technology in my second plan. It was a talking and braille tablet that I could take to meetings and take notes, et cetera. That’s around 6,000. So I asked the supplier for a quote that would last me four months. My review meeting was in August; my plan wasn’t approved until September; but they did take a little while through processing to be able to approve that technology. They are getting better but you can still be waiting even months. More often, it is weeks now but you can still be waiting a long time.

Similarly, I know someone that needed approval of a mattress, a special water proof mattress. It was only around $700 but luckily we’re able to get the supplier to give us a quote that lasted for four to five months; and so we are able to get it approved before the quote expired.

Another tip is that you can now ask for your plan period to be more than one year. They used to be just one year. You can now ask for up to three years. Now, things are a little bit different with COVID 19; that plans can be automatically extended. They won’t expire anymore, at the moment; but they will be extended by one year. But you can also ask for your plan to be extended up to two years.

But in general, if you are COVID or not COVID situation, plans can be up to three years. If you are someone that is fairly stable in your disability, it is not likely to change, your support needs aren’t likely to change, and you are confident in using the funding you have got to achieve your goals and that your goals are sort of long term goals that you are aiming for, then you are likely to be able to get a plan after three years.

I have applied for a two year plan and was successful. And that suits me because I don’t expect my circumstances to change. But if you are someone, say, that’s about to leave high school or there might be some other situation that could be changing for you, maybe you may want to stick with the one year plan.

Okay, I might see if there are any questions again before we go on to talk about goals? Any questions about rescheduled review meetings, Helen?

HELEN: No, there doesn’t seem to be any at the moment, Ramona. So we will keep going.

RAMONA: Great. So there is information in your information pack around that topic as well. So let’s move to slide 10, please, Darren, and we will look at goals.

Preparing for your plan review is a big package; and part of it is setting goals. And your goals help you work out what supports could be funded. And you probably need to think carefully about what objectives you have in your life and that’s probably more important than thinking about what services/supports you want. So rather than me thinking, “Oh, I want a Guide Dog,” it’s more about, “I want to think about I want to get out and about, independently”.

Can we have the next slide, please, slide 11, and we will talk about outcome domains; which is quite a jargon term?

The NDIS has developed a list of different parts of ordinary life where you might want to think about the supports that you need. There are all these areas, outcome domains and there’s eight of them. By reflecting on these different areas, it can help you think about what your goals might be.

The areas of life that are outcome domains are: daily living, home, health and well being, lifelong learning, work, social and community participation, relationships and choice and control.

So thinking about these different areas of your life, and setting goals, you may want to consider some of the following things: where you live, relationships you have with others or that you want to have. Maybe you want to make more friends. Health and your well being; maybe you want to get fitter or eat better, for example. Education and other learning; like, maybe you want to do a class; maybe you want to go to TAFE or university.

There might be all sorts of other learning opportunities that you would like to take advantage of.

Work, both volunteer and paid work. Social and community activities; maybe you want to do an activity that your local council is running. You might want to be able to have more social skills so you can join social groups.

Think about your likes and dislikes. If you like music and dancing, that might help you think about what your goals might be. So make a list of what you like and dislike and that can help you.

You don’t need to pick new goals at every plan review. The NDIS does encourage you to have two short term goals that is goals that can be achieved in your plan, like, in the year or two years and maybe a few medium to long term goals for achieving over a number of periods.

The information pack has a handout on goals with more details, but here’s some tips for setting goals, to start with.

Your funding must be linked to your goals. So your supports will only be there, if they are linked to your goals. Focus on the outcomes, like the video said; not the services. So, for example, your child might have the goal to be able to eat independently at the family table and feel that they can eat independently with a knife and fork. The support might be the OT giving therapy on being able to have fine motor skills to handle a knife and fork; but the outcome is what’s important.

You can combine a number of related ideas into one goal. So your goal might be to learn how to catch public transport, make your own lunch and pay for a coffee at lunchtime, in order to aim to get a part time job. So you can combine a number of goals into one idea a number of ideas into one goal.

A goal can also be to maintain doing what you have been doing without the support from NDIS in the past. So, for example, I had a job and I would travel independently. I had a group of friends that I would catch up with; and I also would visit my family. They were all things that I did with the help of a mobility aid like a Guide Dog or a cane; and that was one of my goals to keep doing that.

It might be that you are living in a shared group home; and you enjoy being there and you are happy and your goal might be to stay doing that.

Now, I think the big focus on goals is to focus on independence, community involvement and skill building; because I think they really are the three main essence of NDIS. So I will repeat them; because I think this does summarise what NDIS is about: focus on independence, community involvement and skill building.

So we will just check in one I will just check in one more time with Helen about questions because I have got one more topic to go around pricing. But I know goals is a question area that people often have questions. Are there any questions?

HELEN: The only question I have at the moment is how many goals should we have?

RAMONA: There’s no set limit but I think it’s good to maybe leave it to about probably no more than six. Maybe a couple short term goals, more immediate goals; and maybe two/three, four longer-term goals. But there’s no actual prescription. I think half a dozen max is probably a good recipe.

Okay, now I just want to touch briefly on the topic of pricing. So could we go to slide 12, please? This is a little bit technical but I will try and keep it simple. Particularly if you are doing self managing, or you just want to understand more about the documents that are related to buying and supplying quotes and invoices, et cetera, around the NDIS, you may want to keep a couple of things in mind, or to learn a couple of things.

As I mentioned before, there’s two NDIS documents that are important; the price guide and the support catalogue. And they can also be downloaded from the NDIS website which you would probably all know is NDIS.gov.au.

They are usually updated each year and released in July but they often have small updates throughout the year. So it’s good to check back if you have got the latest version. Certainly with the temporary measures they have put in place for COVID 19, there’s been a lot of updates over February/March this year.

So let’s start with the price guide. That contains the NDIS rules and policies around pricing. It covers topics such as charges relating to non-face-to-face activities. That’s things like providers writing up incident reports, for example. So any reports they might have to do or other non-face-to-face things, where they are not working with you directly. It covers policies and rules around travel, cancellations, price limits; and it outlines the processes that the registered providers have to follow.

The price guide can help you as a participant also to know what service providers are permitted and not permitted to claim. For example, I learnt by reading the price guide that service providers can claim in certain circumstances non-face-to-face time. But other times they may not be able to do that; for example, if they are running group activities; because the price of the group activity covers non-face-to-face. So there’s various things like that.

It can be a bit complicated. It is not a huge document. But you might like to just refer to different parts of it.

So that’s the price guide. The support catalogue is a list of all the specific supports that are in the NDIS payment system. And these are referred to as line items or line numbers/items. And it gives you the maximum prices that providers can charge for some of those items. Not all items have a price limit, some do. That is why it’s good to refer to the catalogue for that sort of information. So it is a handy reference to see each of those items, what can be charged, what items can have travel charged against them or cancellation; because not every item is the same.

It also is a good reference to see a description of what items are. So if you don’t know what a certain therapy is, you can look it up in the list and it will give you a description.

So the support catalogue is a good reference.

Also, just note that sometimes the support catalogue doesn’t provide everything; so what the NDIA might do is to use what they call a “best fit”. I will give you an example. If you have incontinence issues and you need a water proof mattress, that is not in the support catalogue. But on your plan, the NDIA may have put pressure reduction mattress because it’s the closest thing in the catalogue. So when you go to buy your water proof mattress, the supplier will claim against that item called “pressure reduction mattress”. So it is the best fit. So there’s a couple of times where you might see that happen. So don’t be alarmed if you see a close but not exact item specified as a stated support in your plan.

In 2019, the NDIS introduced a special temporary payment for providers called “TTP”. You may see some items on your invoices that have a “T” against the number; and that is because it’s using the TTP payment, the temporary payment. It’s a payment that providers are allowed to get in some cases, to help them transfer to the NDIS.

The whole NDIS system is a new one for everyone. So a lot of people need assistance, extra funding; we are all learning together; but it is a temporary payment and that’s why it’s there.

Similarly, the same basic support could appear on your plan different to your friend’s plan; and different prices. It’s because it’s based on a whole lot of variables like the time of day. So if you get your support in the morning but your friend gets it in the evening, same support, different time of day, there may be different costs. The day of the week, also. If you get it on a Sunday but your friend gets it on a Monday, then the cost will be different.

Also, the support cost will depend on whether it is standard intensity or complex. If you have complex needs, you might have different support needs because of your complexity of your needs. So that’s called intensity; that will determine the price.

And then, also, as I said, some providers are eligible for TTP and others are not.

Also being finally, what the ratio is. If you are attending a day centre and you are getting a group help, 1 to 4 people, that would be a different cost to if you are a 1 to 5 group. So there’s a few technical things in there and there is information in your pack around pricing, if you want more information.

Could we have slide 13, please? So all that’s left for me to do is to let you know that we do appreciate your time today. The feedback that we get from attendees like this is really valuable to us and we do ask that you give us your feedback through an evaluation survey. We will be sending out an email to you with a link to complete a very short online survey to give us your evaluation.

If it’s easier for you, you are welcomed to complete a Word version of the file or the PDF version that was on the information pack. You can download that; or we can email it to you. Alternatively, if you would rather give us feedback over the phone, just let us know; and one of my colleagues will help you complete the form anonymously over the phone and fill that in for you, if you are not able to use the Internet.

I do encourage you, please, to be honest and give us lots of information; because the information you give us helps us to improve our information sessions which we want to do.

So finally, I would like to say thank you very much for your time. I hope that you have gotten something out of today; and I do encourage you to contact us if you have got any other questions. I will give you our contact details again. My name is Ramona Mandy and I am with the Disability Loop team at AFDO. You can visit our Disability Loop website which also has got lots of good NDIS information and that website is www.Disability Loop.org.au. On that website, you can sign up to our Disability Loop e-newsletter and our email address is DisabilityLoop@AFDO.org.au. And you can also reach us at our toll free number 1800219969. That is 1800219969. And I wish you all the best with putting your plan into action and getting the most out of it. And it’s bye for now.

SESSION CONCLUDED.

If you enjoyed this presentation and found it helpful, please let us know by clicking on the “like” button below, thanks.

SESSION CONCLUDED

(No warranties express or implied as to the accuracy of the material contained in this transcript are given by the authors and the authors will not be liable for any error, misdescription or for any other reasons.)