While COVID-19 restrictions are thankfully now easing around the country, it may still be some time before we can return to ‘life as it was’ before the pandemic. For many NDIS participants Coronavirus has meant a change in the way they are able to access services, with less (or no) face to face supports and more telehealth and online supports.
The National Disability Insurance Agency quickly responded to the situation and made some changes to plan funding to try and make sure participants still had access to supports during the pandemic.
These changes are still current, though the NDIA has mooted that they will only remain until the end of September, so get in quick! Let’s take a look at what’s different, for now at least:
You may be able to claim for a device now
The purchase of a device has long been an item that has caused confusion in the NDIS; ‘am I able to claim an iPad or aren’t I?’ And the answer has always been, ‘well, it depends’.
Due to the pandemic there’s an understanding that some participants need access to technology now, and in ways that they didn’t need before. You may well need that iPad now to access online allied health services or be left without those supports.
This is where the NDIS has made some changes. Even if you do not have funding for assistive technology in your plan, you are now able to purchase from your core funding. As always, you do have to demonstrate that the device builds capacity, that it meets a need during COVID (e.g. you can’t attend therapy so you need to access online telehealth) and provide written advice from your provider that it’s required due to physical distancing restrictions.
Generally, for devices up to $750 can be spent.
You may have increased access support coordination
Support coordination has never been more important. Why? Because support coordinators know how to navigate the system (NDIS) and are well versed in using funding creatively but within the scope of the scheme. This means they will usually have all sorts of ideas about how you can use your funding during the pandemic.
However not all participants currently have support coordination funded in their plans. The NDIA has recognised this and has temporarily allowed for support coordination to be accessed using core funds. This will be reviewed at the end of June and a decision made whether to extend for another 3 months.
Use of core funds for support coordination is also available for participants who have had this funding in their plan but have exhausted those funds. You can now use your core funding in this way.
Are you living with a brain injury and experiencing isolation due to COVID-19?
We’d love to hear from you on what you are currently doing to handle the isolation brought about by COVID-19. Your valued feedback will help us to support others living with brain injury through this difficult time.
Your current plan may be extended by 12 months – or longer
With the restrictions around face to face contact, in person planning meetings were not possible. Rather than delays for participants to have their annual plan review meetings, the NDIS has decided to extend many plans automatically for the year ahead (although we understand this is not a blanket rule).
If your needs have changed, or your circumstances, the usual processes for reviews still apply but with phone or online contact. If you’d like to extend your plan for another 2 years let your support coordinator or the NDIS know.
Update: May, 2020
The NDIA has just announced a number of additional ways funding can be used more flexibly. From 9 May, participants who plan or agency manage their core budgets can now spend their core funding flexibly across all four core categories – assistance with daily life, consumables, social/community participation and transport.
If you need any further information, give us a call
We know it can be confusing to understand what you can claim for from your NDIS funding, particularly in a pandemic! Give us a call on 1800 673 074 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk you through the ways you could use your funding more flexibly and innovatively to access supports.