NDIS Plans Explained

If you’re dipping your toe into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for the first time, you’re about to discover that there’s a wealth of resources waiting to help you take more control over your goals for independence, better living and strategic support.

The big thing to know about how NDIS plans work is that this program is quite flexible and positive when it comes to giving participants freedom to focus on unique, custom options that meet their needs.

One of the highlights of this program is that participants are given opportunities to play active roles in shaping their own plans.

However, there are still many procedures to know about to ensure that you’re accurately and effectively using the funding and resources provided to you after enrolling.

Take a look at what you need to know about creating and managing your NDIS plan.

What is an NDIS Plan?

Once enrolled in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), participants begin building personalized, unique plans that outline their goals.

In addition, these plans create outlines for the level and type of support needed. NDIS plans are used by both the participant and support providers to allocate funding to relevant, helpful services.

As a participant’s needs change, an NDIS plan can be amended to evolve alongside those changing needs!

How NDIS Plans Work

You will lay the groundwork for formulating your NDIS plan during your planning meeting. NDIS plans are divided into three different parts that help to create a well-rounded picture of your needs.

First, you will work on your “About Me” section. This section focuses on the essentials of who you are, how your family intersects with your life and what your daily life is like.

Next, you will complete the “Goals” section of your plan. This category focuses on your long-term and short-term goals and aspirations.

This category is important because it may be referenced any time there is a request for funding allocations that link back to your goals.

For instance, a person who has a goal of obtaining more independence may be able to use resources for overnight stays away from home. Much of your plan will be oriented toward your goals as you move forward.

Lastly, the “Supports” section of your plan serves as the actionable portion of your plan. This is where you will list all of the formal and informal supports needed to help you move forward with your plan goals.

This is an opportunity to see how resources can be used to help you live your life with as much independence as possible while ensuring that your health and safety needs are being met!

Support Budgets

This is where you really get to the meat of your NDIS plan. There are three different types of support budgets that may be nested within your NDIS plan.

However, every plan is highly unique based on the level and type of support needed. The three budgets that can be included within your total NDIS support budget include Core Supports, Capacity Building Supports and Capital Supports.

Let’s break down what the budgets for each of these support types can look like for NDIS participants.

Core Supports Budget

This is the budget category that covers help needed for everyday activities. This category is focused on covering your day-to-day support needs with an eye on helping you to work toward your longer-term goals.

Generally, this category is more flexible than the other two budget categories. You can often use this funding to cover needs that technically roll into other support categories.

Here’s a rundown of some of the categories covered under your Core Supports budget:

  •  Assistance With Daily Life: Cleaning, meal preparation, personal care, household maintenance, yard maintenance and other “living essentials.”
  •  Consumables: Personal-care products or health/convenience items that allow you to maintain more independence.
  •  Assistance With Social Activities/Community Participation: Support for getting to and participating in social activities that add to both independence and enjoyment of life.
  •  Transportation: Help with traveling to work, social activities or other places that support your goals.

These snapshots of what is covered under each Core Supports subcategory are in no way exhaustive. There are hundreds of covered items and services under this category that can be pinpointed when working with your support team to create a custom, effective plan.

What’s more, some categories can be more flexible than others.

Capacity Building Supports Budget

This category is focused on helping you to use resources from the NDIS to build your independence and reach long-term goals. Typically, there is an emphasis on helping you to build skills that will allow you to take more control over your life.

Unlike your Core Supports budget, this category does not provide any flexibility for moving funds around to other categories.

Here’s a look at what is available under the Capacity Building Supports budget:

  •  Support Coordination: The cost of bringing in an NDIS support coordinator to help you with your plan.
  •  Improved Living Arrangements: Services for finding and maintaining an appropriate living space that is in line with your goals.
  •  Increased Social and Community Participation: Access to development and training that will help you to improve a wide variety of social and practical skills for living a more fulfilling, independent life.
  •  Job Support: Resources for helping you to find and maintain a job.
  •  Relationship Support: Resources for helping participants to engage in positive interactions with others.
  •  Health and Wellbeing: Resources for integrating diet advice and physical activity into your lifestyle for the purpose of supporting your disability.
  •  Learning Resources: For some plan participants, training or educational advice can be covered.
  •  Improved Life Choices: The NDIS actually funds training that helps you to learn how to manage your own plan, understand how funding works and handle service payments.
  •  Improved Daily Living: Group or individual trainings, therapies and assessments designed to help you increase skills that will allow you to enjoy more independence and social participation.

Not every NDIS plan will incorporate all of these potential Capacity Building Support items. You also won’t typically use all of the resources under each support category available within the Capacity Building Support budget just because you qualify for that category.

You will instead be able to choose the most relevant services and resources for building a plan that meets your needs.

Capital Supports Budget

The final budget category is Capital Supports. Under this category, some highly specified, higher-cost needs are covered. Needs listed under this category can include one-time expenses and equipment.

The Capital Supports category is actually split between the categories of “Assistive Technology” and “Home Modifications.”

Assistive Technology

The NDIS defines assistive technology as any equipment that you might require for personal care, mobility assistance and communication. Items that will allow you to enjoy what the NDIS calls “recreational inclusion” also fall under this category.

This can include modifications to your vehicle, wheelchair or other supportive aids that enable you to participate more fully in activities both inside and outside your home.

Home Modifications

The NDIS defines qualified home modifications as updates to your home that allow you to safely partake in essential activities. This can include things like safety rails in your bathroom that provide extra support when bathing or using the facilities.

Coverage can also include structural changes to your dwelling that accommodate your disability. This category can also extend to cover a Specialist Disability Accommodation if you require specialized housing.

Generally, a lot of thought will be given to how these “large-ticket” expenses will enable you to live a more independent life.

While the NDIS is very flexible regarding funding allotments, it will be essential to prove that the items you need covered are necessary based on your disability.

Items that are covered under Capital Supports cannot be used for purposes other than supporting your disability.

How Often Are NDIS Plans Reviewed?

While NDIS participants can feel a lot of pressure to get their plans just right, you should know that plans can be reviewed and amended as your needs evolve.

The goal is to create plans that work for your specific needs instead of “locking you in” for a plan that is rigid or incomplete.

Generally, your first NDIS plan review will be scheduled 12 months after your plan begins. That means you’ll have a full year to assess how your plan is working.

The NDIS typically reaches out to plan participants six weeks before a plan review should be scheduled to take place.

What to Expect During Your NDIS Plan Review

During your review, you will have an opportunity to voice your perception of how your plan is fitting your needs. This is also a time to review new approaches that may help you to move forward with success.

If you are pleased with your plan, you will have the option to implement a renewed plan with the same supports in place. If you believe a few minor changes are needed, you may be able to simply amend your plan by moving around some funding.

However, you may feel that a drastic reworking of your plan is needed. This will require a full plan review.

If you’re unsure about which review option is ideal for you, you can speak with an NDIS Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or planner to discuss which option fits your needs.

There’s also a channel to use if you believe that the NDIS has made an error regarding your plan that you’d like reviewed.

A move called an “internal review of a decision” can be requested by any NDIS participant at any time by contacting the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) directly in writing, by phone or through email.

See article: NDIS Plan Review Tips.

Ways to Manage Your NDIS Plan

Yes, it can feel like there’s a lot to manage when crafting and maintaining an effective NDIS plan that allows you to smartly use resources to thrive and reach goals!

Fortunately, the NDIS provides many resources for plan management that ensure you have one-on-one guidance and support from qualified professionals.

Here’s a look at your options for NDIS plan management:

  •  Self-Management: You will access supports using funding provided by NDIS on your own.
  •  Plan-Managed Funding: The NDIS will build funding into your plan that pays for a plan manager who will handle provider payment, track your funds and manage all reporting needs.
  •  NDIA-Managed Funding: The NDIA will directly pay providers for you.

Many people like the flexibility us utilizing a registered plan manager because they can get the assurance of knowing that their plans are being handled while also learning how to be independent in regards to understanding how plans work.

There are also options for hybrid management options that combine self-management and plan-manager management. The fact that the NDIS covers the cost of hiring a plan manager makes this a very obvious choice for most participants.

See also: For more information on NDIS Plan Management and how it works, check out NDIS Plan Management Explained here.

See also: For more information on the best way to manage your plan, check out NDIS Plans: Self Managed vs Plan Managed here.

NDIS Plans Explained: The Next Step is to Take Action

You should now be familiar with the basics of how NDIS plans work! However, the reality is that your plan will operate as a very unique, custom program based on your needs.

Once you are accepted into the NDIS, you are able to dive into a world of resources that will enrich your life, allow you to take steps toward independence and make it easier to participate in the things that are important to you!

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