I’ve learned (somehwat) to:
BE OPEN: A good provider for one person might be shit for another person, and vice versa. Take in what you hear about providers, but make your own judgements. It’s not wise to judge a while organisation on one or two shit support workers – shitty support workers slip through and are employed by EVERY organisation at some stage or another.
BE ASSERTIVE: When a provider tells you information, or sends you a bill that seems dodgy, it may well be dodgy. Ask for a supervisor and check with the NDIS directly. Even if your plan is Agency Managed you should be getting detailed accounts of how providers are claiming your funds every month at least. NDIA rules require that they do this, so demand it. Estimates are that 18% of billing in the NDIS is incorrect. Don’t let that be your funds wasted. Demand a copy!
BE SMART: Keep a copy and almost memorise the “reasonable and necessary” provisions of the NDIS Act. If you are self managing, don’t annoy the NDIS to ask every little thing. If it meets “reasonable and necessary” under the Act for your participant, then just keep your evidence and do it.
BE COPYFUL: *Never* give your only copy of *any* document to a government or provider. Ever. Always make a copy to keep for your own files. If you live near an NDIS office and are able to get there, drop off documents and ask for a receipt. Uploading documents to the NDIS through the portal does store them, but it is doubtful whether anyone at the NDIS is actually notified that the documents have been uploaded. So think of that as a “storage” facility, rather than one that sends documents *to* people at the NDIS.So upload the docs, but then send an email to the NDIS to let them know you’ve done it. Oh, and repeat your subject line in the body of your email, because the subject line, I’ve been told, gets cut off when they save your email to your file. (and yes, I know “copyful” is not a word, but I don’t care. It works for me)
BE FLEXIBLE: The NDIS is consistently inconsistent. Providers and planners and LAC’s frequently have incorrect and/or outdated information. They do not have all the answers. And neither does the NDIS. Things change rapidly in the NDIS, and you kinda just have to learn to “go with the flow”, or you might explode.
BE PREPARED: If you have a school aged child in the NDIS and have not had your annual review recently, you are likely to find that your funding will drop at your next review. Significantly. Many school aged children’s plans are dropping by 30-60% with Core Supports almost disappearing for many.
BE CAREFUL: If you are using your nine year old child’s core funds to clean your gutters and prune your roses, you will want to have strong evidence of why this is reasonable and necessary as a disability support. Audits ARE happening, so make sure your spending choices are “reasonable and necessary” (see BE SMART)
BE A NIGHT OWL: Call the NDIS between 6 and 11pm on weekdays to ask basic questions or leave messages. 1800 800 110. You can’t usually get through to your local office during the day anyway, so you might as well call when there’s no hold time and the night-time call centre folk have, in my experience, been just lovely to talk to!
BE TOLERANT: The NDIA is pretty badly under-resourced in terms of staffing, which is why it’s almost impossible to get through to anyone in your local office, and one of the reasons why reviews are taking sooooooo long. It’s important to remember that this is NOT the fault of local NDIS staff and generally speaking, they really want to help, and they want the scheme to be successful, so don’t yell at them. firstname.lastname@example.org is a great place to send your suggestions and complaints.
BE THANKFUL: For the vast majority of Australians with significant disability, the NDIS *is* better than previous systems. While many are having lousy experiences, this is not the overall reality for most. Those getting it rough have good reasons to complain, and we need them to complain to make things better, but for the rest of us, please consider sending positive feedback to your planner, a letter of thanks to the local paper or your MP.
Your mileage will vary, of course.
DISCLAIMER: None of this is “professional advice” yada yada, they are just my musings. If you want to share or reproduce this, go for it, but, as always, with Credit and no Edits. Copyright 2017 – Sam Paior, The Growing Space.
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