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Nov 25 2020

Plan Spending Flexibility Changes

NEWS
The NDIS have released some stuff about important things, to get your feedback.
These are about some big changes to plan spending flexibility, and about how independent assessments are used to get into the scheme.
There are 4 papers, 2 about Early Childhood changes |(some good stuff in there) but I want to talk about the other two:
Planning policy for personalised budgets and plan flexibility
and
Access and eligibility policy with independent assessments
https://www.ndis.gov.au/about-us/improving-ndis
It’s really important that our community read these and give feedback.
Here are some of my initial thoughts (plenty more to come, I’m sure)…
Things I like:

  1. Everyone will get a personalised budget, and the money will be flexible between support categories (except for some stuff, like SDA and capital equipment and mods etc.)
  2. Independent assessments will mean some people will get access to NDIS quicker, and won’t have to pay for reports beforehand.
    Things I don’t like:
  3. They are proposing that you only get a month of your budget at a time, and that every year it starts over (although some of the unused budget might rollover into the new year)
  4. Goals don’t affect your personalised budget (I don’t see how this is possible – if your goal is to move out of home, you’ll need a higher budget, surely?)
  5. There’s no way to appeal the results of your independent assessment (but you can appeal the plan budget amount)
    Things I’m unsure about:
  6. I don’t understand how standardised budgets based on independent assessment will take into account an individual’s unique goals – if I am happy in a 1:6 group program my funding will likely be fine, but if I want to pursue a microenterprise and need a facilitator and some 1:1 support, will I get enough funding through this proposed process?
  7. What if I want to live alone and not with 1:3 support? My “functional impairment” hasn’t changed, but I need more funding in that situation…
  8. How are they going to work “exemptions” to independent assessments – a can of worms!
Image may contain: text that says "ndis National Disability Insurance Scheme Consultation paper: Planning Policy for Personalised Budgets and Plan Flexibility November 2020 Version 1.0 ndis.gov.au"
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Jul 18 2020

NDIS are Reaching Out!

The NDIS have just launched their “Participant First Engagement Initiative”. The name is, honestly, quite terrible, but the idea is AWESOME, and you should get involved if you’re willing and have the available spoons.

The NDIS is looking for a bunch of people with disability and family carers to join various working groups, answer survey etc etc.

They’ve put out a form to get people to sign up, and I’ve made an Easy English version to encourage people to sign up easily, which you can find right here!

Please join up and/or encourage people you know who use the scheme to join and help make it better. Only our voices can change this – we need lots of them.

The official info is here: https://www.ndis.gov.au/news/4993-participant-first-help-shape-ndis

Mar 19 2020

Support Co-ordination in a Pandemic – a practical checklist for Support Coordinators

Contact EVERY client and help them assess their critical needs, supports and ability to manage if/when it all goes pear shaped.

Here are the questions (reworded from our internal slightly to take out my swearing and add a few things I missed) our team are talking to our clients about.

  1. Do they know what this is all about – have families/carers explained the current situation? Here’s an easy English resource: https://www.thegrowingspace.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Easy-English-Coronavirus-TheGrowingSpace-2020.pdf and a social story: https://carolgraysocialstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Pandemics-and-the-Coronavirus.pdf
  2. Do they understand the risks for them (ie: are they at greater risk – smoker, lung concerns, diabetes, immunosuppressed for example – not an exhaustive list) – point them to official information sources https://www.health.gov.au/ and the COVID hotline: 1800 020 080
  3. Are they considering self-isolating and if so, what preparation has been done?
  4. Do they have a week or two of essential supplies – food, hygiene, cleaning
  5. Do they have a month of prescription medication and over-the-counter medication (don’t forget laxatives!)
  6. Do they have enough consumables – continence aids, wipes, catheters, feeling tube gear to last a month or so?
  7. What are their CRITICAL (could die without) support needs, and do the providers of these supports have a plan in place to support them?
  8. If they have significant critical support needs, is there a way a worker could move in a self-isolate with them?
  9. Can their family/informal supports cover if support workers are no longer available – what is the back-up plan if they’re not available?
  10. What are their plans for support if/when day options/ADE/school closes, or if someone in their group home gets sick?
  11. Have they consider having support workers doing as much work as possible outside with participants, keeping well apart if possible, and have they considered all the ways a support worker can help remotely to reduce risk (obviously this won’t be possible for everyone!)
  12. Do they have a cleaner and do they want to keep them on – consider only allowing the cleaner to use the participant’s cloths, mop, duster and vacuum to reduce the chances of spread.
  13. Handwashing – do they understand the protocol, and are they confident to demand this of workers – if self employing or contracting, do they know about the free training on offer – https://covid-19training.com.au/login.php and https://training.disabilityservicesconsulting.com.au/products/infectionfree and, could they put up a poster https://www.thegrowingspace.com.au/a-sign-for-your-door-or-workplace-covid-19/, and set up a handwashing station outside to use before anyone even enters the house? (no-one should share the handtowels which should be washed daily in 60deg water, or they could use paper towels potentially)
  14. NDIS – do they know about the changes – ability to rollover plans etc? Make sure you are well across the daily updates at https://www.ndis.gov.au/understanding/ndis-and-other-government-services/ndis-and-disaster-response#faq
  15. Check in on their mental health – this is a very stressful time for many – ask how often they’d like you to check in, and potentially refer/suggest support from mental health professionals
  16. Follow up with an email for those for whom it might be useful – outline the stuff they’re already doing to prepare, they stuff you talked about that they could action, and the things you’re going to do for them, as well as when you will contact them next (this email could likely work as your casenote).

Please don’t assume you know the answers to above without that direct conversation (where possible). I have been surprised by the gaps, and our support and ideas have been appreciated.

At The Growing Space, we have worked to assign each participant a risk level (A-D) to help us know when things get really bad, who is most at risk, based on the answers to these questions – it also means that if one of our team can’t work,  someone else should be able to quickly and easily pick up and follow up with those who need it the most.

And don’t forget – what is *your* plan for maintaining your mental health, and what is *your* back-up plan if you can’t look after your clients yourself?

Support Coordinators are not medical or legal professionals, so don’t cross those boundaries – be aware of your limitations and refer out as needed.

All the best during these tough times!

Copyright of The Growing Space 2020 – please share, but with credit and no edits. And remember – this is not medical or legal advice, and is very time sensitive – things are changing very quickly  – seek professional advice if you need it!                   March 20, 2020

pic desc: an illustrated green virus icon with an open mouth and scared looking eyes.

Mar 13 2020

A sign for your door or workplace – COVID-19

Feel free to download and use one of these on your front door – at home and your workplace to remind people to stay away if they’re sick, and to wash their hands as they come in.

You’re welcome to share these freely

Here is a .pdf version: https://www.thegrowingspace.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Do-Not-Enter-TGS.pdf

And here is a .jpg image version: https://www.thegrowingspace.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/BIG-PURPLE-DO-NOT-ENTER-SIGN-MARCH-2020.jpg

Mar 03 2020

Coronavirus/COVID19 Easy English Resource

This is useful for those with low literacy, intellectual or cognitive disability, learning disability, and for some from CALD or ATSI backgrounds. In the pdf each sentence below is accompanied by a relevant image. The language is simple and clear and accessible. The resource is five pages long and covers information about self isolation and business closures and distancing rules.

This handout is copyright of The Growing Space 2020. You are welcome to share, copy and distribute this handout whole, with credit and no edits. If you would like to publish this handout, please contact us at info@TheGrowingSpace.com.au for approval.

Dec 27 2019

Emergency and crisis phone numbers and helplines

Please download and print a pdf of this list to keep somewhere prominent in your home and workplace. You just never know when you need to call, for yourself, someone you love, someone you work with, or a stranger on the street.

Click Here: Emergency List to download and print here

The downloadable document linked above includes clickable links to phone numbers and websites for more than 40 Australian helplines under the following topics.

Emergency services

Alcohol and drugs

Crisis counselling

The National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline

Domestic violence

Eating Disorders

Gambling

Health

Homelessness

LGBTI

Men

Mental Health

Police assistance

Seniors

Sexual assault

Suicide prevention

Veterans

Victim/Survivor support

Women

Young people

Nov 14 2019

Big NDIS Update

So, today the guy responsible for NDIS – Minister Stuart Robert – gave a speech in Canberra to a pack of journalists, and he outlined a bunch of stuff, and here’s a few of the key points, as I see them.
1. ECEI: Wait times for little kid access to the scheme have been reduced and are now sitting at under 48 days. VERDICT: This is good.
2. WAITING: Access decision timing (finding out whether you get into the scheme or not) has dropped to an average of 12 days, and there’s an average of 88 days to get a plan once you’ve been accepted into the scheme. VERDICT: This is good.
3. “Joint planning” sessions: where participants have an input on draft plans etc before approval should be fully rolling out by April 2020. VERDICT: This will hopefully be good, but I see potential problems with availability of staff to make this happen.
4. JOBS: We need 90,000 new jobs in the sector – that’s going to take money, time and effort, and the Gov will work on this. VERDICT: This is good for the economy, but we have to be careful to bring in and train the right people for these jobs, and not use this just as a way to get people off newstart, some of whom will have no interest or skill in serving people with disability. Hopefully it will mean that more people with disability will consider training and working in the industry!
5. DRC/COAG: State and Federal governments are meeting on disability stuff every 90 days. They’ve made agreements on health stuff, disabled children in out-of-home-care and hospital discharge. Also, each state should now have a Justice Liaison Officer to work with disabled youth and adults in the justice system. VERDICT: Slowly slowly, but hopefully with more frequent gatherings, more will be done, sooner!
6. Transport: No big changes in transport other than to continue the taxi subsidy schemes until they sort out a better policy, and to increase transport funding for those who are already heavy users of the taxi schemes. VERDICT: Yeah Nah – they bloody well need to make a proper fix to the transport debacle, not this tinkering with the fringes rubbish.
7. Independent Assessments: by July 2020 independent assessments, funded by NDIS will be available for people seeking NDIS access and for reviews. These functional assessments won’t come out of participants’ plans and are designed to make access and funding more equitable.VERDICT: Jury is still out – this has potential to create more equity but I have concerns that assessors might be grumpy judgy bastards, or that what they see on any particular day of assessment is simply not indicative of overall functional assessment – we all have good and bad days – I don’t want us to go back to the bad ol’ days where you kept your kid up all night and didn’t give meds on the day of assessment!
8. Flexibility in plans: CORE and CAPACITY building “buckets” will be flexible, so if you run out of therapy money, you can shift funds from CORE (assuming you have it) and iuse that for therapy, or vice versa. VERDICT: The devil will be in the detail, but this is a GREAT step forward in choice and control and better utilisation of plans
9. SDA: the original SDA funding model meant that if you lived with people without SDA funding, the payment to the provider was severely reduced. Now, you can live with WHOEVER YOU DAMN WELL PLEASE, and it won’t reduce your funding. VERDICT: YAY!!! (but appalling that it was ever designed in that way to start with)
Now, I also have to mention, that at the same time as Minister Robert was giving this speech, his government quietly pushed some legislation changes through parliament with passage of the NDIS Amendment (Streamlined Governance) Bill 2019 which mean that Government no longer need the States and Territories to agree on NDIA board member appointments – so now the Minister can override the States and can sack or hire whoever they want on the NDIA board. That doesn’t sit particularly well with me.
Overall, I reckon there’s some really good stuff today, but we’ve all got to continue our advocacy and vigilance to turn and keep the scheme on track!
PS: these are my personal views, so your mileage will vary – I encourage your feedback and perspectives below! And if you want to read the Minister’s speech, it’s right here: https://ministers.dss.gov.au/speeches/5266 or you can watch it here: https://iview.abc.net.au/show/national-press-club-address/series/0/video/NC1912C008S00
This post is copyright of The Growing Space 2019. You’re welcome to share this on Facebook with credit and no edits. If you want to share it anywhere else, please check in with us first for permission. Thanks!
Image description: banner of the word VERDICT with lines above & below, dark blue on white background. (with thanks to Susan Hoffmann even though she doesn’t want it ;))

 banner of the word VERDICT with lines above & below, dark blue on white background
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