Prior preparation and planning is of the upmost importance when applying for an NDIS plan. While being super prepared cannot guarantee you’ll get the perfect plan, it can certainly help!
Preparing for an NDIS plan is a daunting task. Many parents go into their planning meeting without any advice or support which seems to result in a very poor plan, that does not sufficiently support the participant. I wanted to share some of the tips we’ve learnt along the way to provide as much information as possible to help you feel prepared for your child meeting.
First let’s quickly chat about the meeting. Children eligible for an NDIS plan will have an NDIS planning meeting set up by NDIS on a day/time that is discussed with you. This meeting is with an NDIS planner allocated to your file. If you have a child with complex disabilities you can request a planner who is experienced and NDIS will endeavour to find a suitable planner working in your area. Some planning meetings happen via video call or phone (this is what we had for Mikey’s first plan), I always advise to choose a face-to-face meeting. This ensures all information is delivered as intended and I think it helps the planner get to know and understand your child’s situation and supports best. You can have, and should have, a support person with you. This may be your support coordinator, therapist, family member or friend who knows your child well.
If you aren’t sure if you’re eligible or you need to apply to become an NDIS participant start here.
First things first you need to outline your child’s goals for the following 12 months. These may be a combination of short, medium and long term goals. These will be different for everyone but may cover areas such as communication, feeding, physical development, emotional, social etc. Goals should be broad and include examples of how the goal will be achieved and how the child will be supported to reach that goal.
Are you seeing now why it’s important to prepare for the plan and not just make this stuff up on the spot!
It’s time to outline all of your child’s current formal and informal supports. Think of anyone who assists your child and is involved in their care/development. Some examples are family members, teachers, medical team, swim/music teachers etc.
It’s probably a good idea to create a file on your computer if you haven’t done so already! Let’s get adding some things to that file in the form of supporting documents. Get in contact with your child’s medical team to request medical reports outlining their diagnosis and need for an NDIS plan. This needs to be done well in advance of your meeting so they have adequate time to prepare. Some will provide you with a detailed report others will give you a progress report from your last meeting – both are useful. Examples of people you may contact include your child’s paediatrician, neurologist, ophthalmologist, ENT Dr, GP etc.
Now is a good time to arrange a meeting with your child’s therapy team (if they have one) so you can discuss your child’s goals and how you will all go about working together to help them achieve these goals. Each therapist should provide a report about your child. This report should include how they currently support your child, goals they are working on, recommended therapy hours and equipment needs including quotes and assessments. Don’t forget to consider travel time and progress notes when considering the number of therapy hours you are requesting.
Also these meetings and reports will cost you so you’ll need to ensure these hours are included in your plan for when you prepare for the next plan.
If your child has participated in intensive therapy programs, ensure you have reports from the completion of their program and provide those at your meeting also. This is particularly important if you are requesting intensive therapy hours.
Ask yourself is it reasonable and necessary?
We all want our kids to be supported so they can reach their goals and gain independence but it can also be easy to get off track and want things that may be a bit outside of what NDIS is here to support. So a very wise support coordinator (my friend Bec) always reminds me to ask myself is it reasonable and necessary for Mikey? And always if you’re unsure speak to your support coordinator/therapists or even medical team to get their advice.
As mentioned above, you will need to include quotes for equipment your child will require. Therapists need to complete assessments to find the best suited equipment and provide supporting letters for each item. Equipment might include mobility aids (wheelchairs, walkers, tricycles, crutches etc), Seating, toileting, AAC device etc. Some equipment will require a trial and that should also be included in the plan.
Try and think of anything your child needs to be supported and request a quote direct from a provider to include as a supporting document. If in home support hours are required for community participation, contact an agency who provides in home care and ask for a quote for the required hours. Remember when seeking in home support don’t use the word respite – NDIS doesn’t like this. This is your child’s plan so NDIS want it to be entirely focused on your child being adequately supported, not the family being supported. Think about how in home support will help your child meet their goals. I know for us personally we need assistance to get Mikey to appointments and into the community. Taking a mobile toddler and a child who uses a wheelchair out (both with no sense of safety) is dangerous for one person and therefore without assistance we wouldn’t be able to get and about.
Some consumable items to consider:
- If your child is PEG fed ensure you have a quote for feeding pump, feed bags, syringes etc.
- If you use a suction machine provide a quote for the machine, tubes etc.
- If your child is in nappies and meets the age requirements, work out how many nappies and wipes you use per day and include a quote for a 12 month supply.
In order to support your child to receive the funding they need, it is helpful to outline what an average day looks like. Think about all of the extra support your child needs that a child their age would not require. If your child is 2 and can’t dress themselves that is to be expected for their age but if they are 6 and can’t dress themselves that is not typical for their age. Outline everything from the moment your child wakes till they go to sleep (include overnight support such as repositioning, monitoring etc.). Some things we may include in Mikey’s plan are physical transfers, personal care, feeding etc. Look at the time it takes for each of these tasks so you can note how much time is spent over 24 hours.
If you are like us and spend many hours a week doing therapy, then providing a timetable is a good idea. This is especially useful for school age children. NDIS may question how you will fit in so many hours of therapy if your child is attending school. It doesn’t need to be elaborate just a simple schedule outlining what happens and when.
Example of a therapy timetable
CARER IMPACT STATEMENTS
This is my least favourite part, writing my carer impact statement. I quickly learnt that to get Mikey the support he requires to live his best life I needed to stop pretending everything was peachy keen jelly bean! Mikey is not a burden, he is a beautiful and loved child to my husband and I, and he is adored by all of his family and friends. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to assist him to live his best life. He needs extra support to achieve his goals and as his mum I advocate for him to get what he needs. A carers impact statement is a personal statement outlining your role as carer and the impact that role has on you. It sounds simple but it can be very emotional to write. I break mine down into sections with a brief opening statement about our introduction into parenthood and I detail my role as Mikey’s primary carer. Being a parent and a carer has many challenges (and lots of rewards) and this statement will help someone on the outside who doesn’t know you or your child, to get a better understanding of your situation.
This statement looks very different for everyone, I have seen some that are 6 pages long and others that are 1 page, mine sits somewhere in the middle.
My husband also provides a statement and you can include others such as another family member who is very involved in your life, maybe even a support worker if you have one.
An impact statement is your chance to help the planner understand more about your personal situation. It can be difficult to write but I feel it’s one of the most important pieces to support your child’s application.
GOALS GOALS GOAL
Remember to link everything you’re asking for back to your goals. NDIS wants to see that what you are asking for will assist your child in achieving their goals.
Following this list and providing all outlined documents will not guarantee your child receives the very best plan but hopefully it will help you go into the meeting feeling prepared and strong to fiercely advocate for your child.