What is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is something that every Australian living with a disability should know about. It’s also an important agency to be familiar with if you’re exploring career opportunities that will allow you to make a positive impact!

The NDIS is one program that is comprised of many moving parts. Teams of people come together to ensure that the needs of NDIS plan participants are fulfilled.

Let’s take a look at the basics of this very important program.

The goal is to connect eligible Australians with support that enhances quality of life while opening up access to services. Some Australians have a little bit of confusion over exactly what the NDIS is, does and offers.

What makes this agency unique is that it utilizes private companies and workers to help deliver government-funded services. This is precisely why people seeking jobs as NDIS workers can actually remain as “independent” workers.

It’s also why NDIS participants are afforded so much freedom when it comes to determining how their plans are managed!

Both NDIS participants and people seeking fulfilling jobs in the social services world have a lot to gain from tapping into the full scope of what this very important program has to offer to Australians.

Let’s unpack the NDIS!

What Is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?

The NDIS is a government-funded program serving the needs of people with disabilities who are under the age of 65. The program is also designed to provide support and peace of mind to families of those with disabilities.

Overseen by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), the NDIS uses government funds to cover costs associated with receiving disability services.

You may be eligible to receive NDIS funding if you have a permanent and significant disability that falls under the following categories:

  • Intellectual.
  • Physical.
  • Cognitive.
  • Sensory.
  • Psychosocial.

The NDIS provides support to as many as 500,000 Australians living with disabilities. If you are just hearing about the NDIS for the first time, it may be worth your while to apply for services if you meet what amounts to a very basic criteria list.

Activating your eligibility opens up a door to support services that you may not know you are entitled to receive! It’s important to know that NDIS eligibility is not based on income. In addition, no co-contribution fees apply for the services provided.

What Types of Services Does the NDIS Provide Funding For?

The NDIS provides funding for a variety of flexible services. In addition, each participant’s plan can look different based on need.

Generally, support services are based around building up a fulfilling, healthy and supported lifestyle. The support provided for a plan can be related to opening up accessibility for independence, employment, socializing, education, living arrangements and more.

Once a plan is activated, funds can be applied to a variety of services.

Here’s a look at some typical funding categories:

  • Access to tools/resources that facilitate independent living.
  • Assistance for personal care and daily care covering household activities.
  • Assistance for managing household obligations or personal finances.
  • Access to equipment like wheelchairs or hearing aids.
  • Access to tools/resources that make it easier to socialize, work or participate in society.
  • Various therapies.

Again, plans can look very different based on a participant’s goals, funding threshold and plan-management preferences.

For facilitators within the NDIS ecosystem, the goal is always to craft a plan that utilizes all available funds in a way that meets the specific needs of the participant.

This can look like everything from hands-on help with getting dressed and bathing to arranging rides to social activities.

It’s important to say that the NDIS does not actually fund and supply income support, education, housing, employment resource, health services or transportation. However, the NDIS does serve as  a bridge to these services.

This can take the form of arranging funding to allow for more resources to be utilized, explaining available options to participants, putting participants in contact with resource providers and more.

NDIS plans help a participant to receive hands-on support for accessing the care and resources they need to thrive. Once you’re in the NDIS program, there’s no need to “do it alone.”

Joining the NDIS: How to Sign Up

Rest assured that the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) does everything possible to make signing up for NDIS support as easy as possible!

There’s no reason to delay tapping into this free resource that you are entitled to as a disabled Australian! What’s more, there is no need to shy away from this program if you are already receiving support or funding from some other avenue or agency.

The first step will be to make a formal NDIS Access Request. You have a number of ways to do this.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Submit an Access Request Form on the NDIS website.
  • Send an email to NAT@ndis.gov.au.
  • Contact your local LAC or NDIA office
  • Call the official NDIS Access number at 1800 800 110.

While the request process is simple, you should still be prepared to answer some basic questions that will enable the NDIS to confirm your eligibility.

Typically, the NDIS will inquire about the specifics of your disability. You will also be asked questions regarding how your disability impacts your day-to-day life.

In most cases, you can actually send along copies of existing health records and reports provided by your care providers to verify your claims. The NDIS will also need to confirm your identity.

Opening Your Access: What Is an NDIS Plan?

The first thing to be discussed once you complete registration is your NDIS plan. Your NDIS plan is your personalized strategy for accessing all of the benefits that you can receive as part of your funding allocation.

Here’s a look at what’s included in a sample NDIS plan:

  • Your Basic Information: Details about your disability, your living situations, your care situation and you day-to-day schedule.
  • Details About Family and Friends: A look at how you’re supported by friends and family apart from your funding. This helps to create a robust, well-rounded view of your lifestyle and support system.
  • Relevant Services and Community Resources: This creates an overview of the community and government services you’re able to tap into. The list can include public-transportation resources, support groups, health clinics and more.
  • Your Goals: This is the category where your goals for living life on your terms can be discussed! The NDIS places a big emphasis on setting goals as a way to maximize what’s offered in your plan. Goals can range from benchmarks for independence to quality-of-life factors.
  • Funded Supports: This outlines the funding you’ve been allocated for each fundable support category. While some participants may be funded in multiple categories, others may only be funded in one or two areas.

The bottom line is that a plan helps to maximize the funding and resources that you have available by getting it all “down on paper.”

Many people allow resources to go unused because they don’t know the full scope of what’s available. The beauty of an NDIS plan is that you can tap into an organized support system that’s designed to allow you to arrange your funding for the maximum impact!

See also: For more information on NDIS Plans and how they work, check out NDIS Plans Explained here.

NDIS Providers

This is where you move into the “personalization” phase of utilizing NDIS services. One thing that makes the NDIS so beneficial and meaningful for so many participants is that independent providers can be utilized.

A NDIS service provider is an individual or organization responsible for delivering support or services to an NDIS participant. The big advantage here for you as a participant is that you have full control over choosing your plan provider!

For many participants, a provider lifts the heavy burdens associated with managing plans that range from submitting claims to making sense of funding.

If you’re interested in finding a provider, you can search for eligible providers in your area by having a read through our NDIS Providers category page here.

If you’re a person who is pivoting your career to become an NDIS provider, you can also find more information on how to connect with NDIS clients by checking out our guide How to Find NDIS Clients here.

See also: For more information on how to become an NDIS Provider, check out How to Become an NDIS Provider here.

NDIS Plan Management

This is the part where you really get to see a plan in action!

When plan management is activated, all of the options that are at your fingertips can finally come together to deliver that life-enhancing support that enriches the lives of so many Australians living with disabilities.

As a participant, you should know that you have control of the type of plan management you prefer!

Here’s a brief overview of your NDIS Plan Management options:

  • Self-Management: With this option, you’ll be independently accessing support options on your own. This might mean doing everything “on your own.” You can also have your primary caregiver or family member do this on your behalf.
  • Plan-Managed Funding: With this option, the NDIA is providing funding to cover the fee for a designated plan manager. The person in this role will be handling all of the financial and administrative aspects of running your plan.
  • NDIA/Agency-Managed Funding: When you opt for this, you’re entrusting the NDIA to direct payments to your providers on your behalf. It’s important to know that choosing this option means that you’ll only be permitted to utilize registered NDIS providers using the recommended NDIS price guide rate.
  • Mixed Management: Lastly, this option allows you to create a hybrid blueprint that assigns at least a portion of your plan management to a plan manager. The rest of the plan will be managed by you!

There really is no universal “best option” for plan participants. Your expectations and preferences are what call the shots here!

If you’re still looking to dig in a bit more to learn about the specifics of managing your plan, you can continue reading about what NDIS plan management entails in our guide NDIS Plan Management Options Explained here.

Of course, you may be at a point where you’re pretty confident that you’re simply ready to go ahead and find a plan manager who will be a prefect match.

You can begin browsing eligible and available plan managers in your area by reading through our NDIS Plan Management category page here.

For anyone interested in embarking on a career as an NDIS plan manager, you can read more about NDIS Plan Management career information in our guide How to Become an NDIS Plan Manager here.

NDIS Support Coordination

NDIS support coordination is yet another very important piece of the bigger picture when it comes to ensuring that NDIS participants receive the best services possible!

Ultimately, the aim of support coordination is to ensure that participants are being giving premium advice and recommendations that leave them empowered to use their funds in the most effective ways possible.

The vast scope of resources available to NDIS participants makes it necessary to have very organized, dynamic management that looks at all of the possibilities.

Where does a support coordinator fit into all of this? In short, a coordinator provides advice and recommendations for how a participant can best use their funds to achieve their goals!

Here’s a glance at how a support coordinator fits into the overall picture:

  • Helping a participant connect with appropriate providers.
  • Ensuring that participants have full control over decisions regarding how funds are utilized.
  • Helping to educate participants regarding how to navigate the NDIS system.
  • Helping participants to make decisions regarding the best support options.

Working with a support coordinator is a one-on-one experience. As a participant, you will be able to connect with your support coordinator once your plan is approved.

Be sure to continue to do your research if you still have some questions regarding exactly how support coordination fits in your overall picture.

If you feel confident that it’s time to select an NDIS support coordinator, you can discover qualified and available NDIS support coordination professionals in your area by reading through our NDIS Support Coordination category page here.

Anyone interested in starting a career in NDIS support coordination can find more information about NDIS support coordination careers by reading our guide How to Become an NDIS Support Coordinator here.

See also: For more information on NDIS Support Coordination, check out NDIS Support Coordination Explained here.

NDIS Recovery Coaching

A new addition to the NDIS funding list in 2019, NDIS recovery coaching is a special support that is intended specifically for plan participants with psychosocial disability as the primary diagnosis.

Participants are not required to use NDIS recovery coaching. However, this support can be helpful for meeting goals related to leading a more independent, satisfying life while managing psychosocial needs.

The NDIS categorizes a psychosocial disability as a disability that may arise from a mental health issue. While a recovery coach’s duties overlap with many of the duties of an NDIS support coordinator, a coach brings a background in mental health services to the table.

Here’s an overview of the key duties of an NDIS recovery coach:

  • Spending time with a plan participant to understand their needs. This may also include spending time with caretakers and people in the lives of NDIS participants with psychosocial disabilities.
  • Helping plan participants to learn about relevant supports and services that are funded through the NDIS.
  • Helping to coordinate support from mental health services.
  • Providing support for understanding how NDIS support and funding works.

NDIS participants who qualify for NDIS recovery coaching due to their psychosocial disabilities won’t need to wait until a plan review to request this support.

The NDIS is currently allowing participants to allocate funding to coaches. While recovery coaching is funded, the NDIS will not simultaneously fund a support coordinator and recovery coach in a single plan due to the fact that services overlap.

See also: For more information about NDIS Recovery Coaching, check out NDIS Recovery Coaching Guide here.

NDIS Plan Reviews

For NDIS participants, each plan review is a time to optimize how their funded supports are serving their needs.

Many NDIS participants find that little to no change is needed when it’s time for a review. Others use a review as a time to really reconstruct the way that supports are being delivered.

In some cases, plan reviews can be waived to allow plan participants to simply stay focused on their progress toward reaching their goals when it has been proven that a current plan is satisfactory.

Here are the key topics to focus on when going into a review:

  • How successful the current plan has been.
  • Things that did not work well.
  • What progress toward goals looks like at the moment.
  • Which goals should be prioritized going forward.
  • Any new people or resources that may help with getting to a goal.
  • Any benefits to changing how plan funding is managed going forward.

Some NDIS participants use plan reviews to request additional supports that were not included in a previous plan.

This often requires documentation from medical professionals or caretakers showcasing the benefits that these new supports would bring in regards to meeting plan goals.

Updated supports can range from everything from assistive technology to housing. Plan participants are also able to request specialized reviews if they disagree with a funding choice made by the NDIS.

Overall, the NDIS recognizes that the supports needed are likely to change as a person moves toward goals of gaining independence and building skills.

See also: For more information on NDIS Plan Reviews, check out NDIS Plan Review Tips here.

NDIS Housing and Accommodation

It’s no exaggeration to say that the NDIS program can enhance nearly every aspect of a participant’s life when resources are allocated exceptionally!

One of the areas where this is apparent is the housing and accommodation portion of NDIS support. The NDIS provides funding for certain accommodation situations for plan participants. This includes assisting participants who intend to live independently.

Here’s a look at what that entails:

  • All support that helps individuals build the capacity to successfully live independently. This includes access to resources that provide instruction and support for improving essential life skills, managing money, socialization, communication skills and more.
  • Some home modifications.
  • Support for personal care.
  • Respite care.
  • Assistance with essential household tasks ranging from dishes to laundry.

NDIS participants are responsible for daily living costs associated with housing, utilities and groceries. However, there are exceptions. This includes cases where living costs are substantially higher than what should be expected due to a person’s disability.

In many cases, NDIS participants receive housing supports that are funded by other systems. This often includes resources for social and community housing.

If necessary, resources that address homelessness and emergency housing can be used from agencies outside of the NDIS.

Commonwealth Rent Assistance and the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) are resources that can and should be explored for people with disabilities seeking options for maintaining independence.

When enrolling in the NDIS, all of your potential options for housing and accommodations will be discussed as part of your eligibility.

Your housing and living goals will be considered priorities when coming up with your personalized NDIS plan. As part of a robust NDIS plan, you’ll be able to develop NDIS-funded components alongside resources that will come from other systems.

See also: For more information on Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA), check out Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) Guide here.

See also: For more information on Supported Independent Living (SIL), check out Supported Independent Living (SIL) Guide here.

See also: For more information on NDIS Respite Care and NDIS Short Term Accommodation, check out NDIS Respite Care/Short Term Accommodation Guide here.

NDIS Transport Funding

The core purpose of the NDIS is to provide supports that allow plan participants to enjoy more independence.

This is precisely why the NDIS views transportation as a valuable tool for allowing plan participants to enjoy more personal freedom through access to education, opportunities to earn income and social events.

For plan participants who meet the criteria for transportation funding, the NDIS provides special funding for taxis, rideshares and other transportation options.

Qualifying for transportation funding means that a participant must typically be able to demonstrate why they are unable to realistically use a bus or train when traveling.

The NDIS may also include special activity-based transport funding to cover costs of having a support worker drive a plan participant around to engage in the community, socialize, shop or keep medical appointments.

What’s more, plan participants in need of specialized or modified vehicles due to disability may be able to have these needs funded under the “Assistive Technology” funding category.

In some cases, funding can extend to cover costs related to road tolls, parking fees and vehicle usage.

NDIS Jobs: Why a Fulfilling Career Can Start Whenever You’re Ready

NDIS workers are in high demand at the moment. Projections show that Australia has a need for up to 90,000 new NDIS workers across the nation by 2022.

National spending on disability services has quadrupled in recent years to be on track to reach $22 billion by 2022.

One of the innovative ways that the Australian government is meeting this need is by looking to the free market to fill very needed and important roles within the NDIS ecosystem.

This largely means asking independent providers and individuals to fill roles as NDIS providers, plan managers and plan coordinators.

The big advantage of this strategy is that reliable, robust government funding for disabled Australians is paired with the flexibility and innovation of the free market.

It also means that people looking for satisfying careers that don’t require intensive training and qualifications can use their skills and compassion to grow their own care-based businesses.

What to Know If You’re Considering a Career as an NDIS Worker

There’s a lot to be enthusiastic about if you’re looking to the NDIS because you’re interested in making a career change.

First, there are many different provider roles within the NDIS “formula” that will allow you to highlight your skills and strengths.

The obvious benefit of making the pivot to a career as an NDIS facilitator is that this is such a fulfilling industry! Hundreds of thousands of Australians rely on professionals within the NDIS ecosystem to receive the life-changing support.

Another benefit of making a career shift that revolves around NDIS services is that this is a very robust and growing industry. The NDIS is constantly conducting outreach to spread the word to eligible Australians.

Within the next few years, thousands of new participants are expected to enroll. That means that coordinators and managers are needed more than ever!

Many people who are attracted to careers in social services are pleased to discover that NDIS work doesn’t require them to jump through quite as many hoops as other agencies.

The simple fact is that there aren’t many special requirements or barriers to entry when it comes to becoming an NDIS coordinator or plan manager.

In fact, you don’t need any special type of degree or license to serve in these roles. Of course, any background that you have in health services or social services will only enhance your ability to serve NDIS participants.

Special Consideration for Service Providers: Should You Become Registered?

One of the big questions on your list if you’re considering becoming a plan provider is whether or not to become registered.

First, becoming a registered service provider is not required. Many people choose to skip this step because they simply want to begin their careers without the added time or cost of becoming registered.

The big benefit of becoming a registered provider is that you will be able to directly submit your invoices to the NDIS. Additionally, remaining unregistered does mean that you’ll be unable to provide services to participants with NDIA-managed plans.

This still leaves a large pool of self-managed and plan-managed participants to work with!

Choosing not to become a registered provider today doesn’t mean that you cannot make the transition down the line once you’ve become established in your field!

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