Many people describe a niggling voice in the back of their mind that asks ‘am I doing this whole NDIS thing right?’ If this sounds like you, not only are you not alone, but you’re in the right place. In this blog we will look at some of the ways you can make the most of your NDIS funding.
1. Know that help is available
It takes a lot of time to understand the intricacies of the NDIS and how to make the most of your plan. In fact, there are thousands of people in Australia who have the job of not only understanding the system, but helping participants to navigate it. These people are called Support Coordinators. In 2022, 44% of NDIS plans had funding for support coordination. When it comes to getting personalised help on all things NDIS, support coordinators should be your first port of call.
There are lots of other people who can help. Service providers, plan managers, or people you know who have been through it before are always good places to start.
It’s important to know you’re not alone in this. You’re not expected to have all the knowledge and answers and it’s always ok to reach out and ask for help. Often by doing this, it leads to the best outcomes.
It’s a bit like taxes - some people complete their own tax returns very competently, but other people go to accountants to get expert help to maximise their returns. We all have different skills and abilities and if ‘inherently understanding the NDIS’ isn’t something you pride yourself on, there’s no shame in getting people in the know to help you out.
2. Start with your goals and work back
If you were asked to list all the supports you require in every aspect of your life you’d most likely think it’s an impossible and overwhelming question to ask someone - because it is! Before you even get your NDIS plan, figuring out what supports you might need can be quite a process. We recommend starting with your goals and working back from there.
If you think about what your life would ideally look like and then think about what you need to get from where you are now to where you want to be, that gives you a good starting point to plan what supports you might need.
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) will look at your goals and help connect the dots to supports that can help you achieve them. It’s important to note that they will also make sure any supports are both reasonable and necessary.
Anecdotally, we’ve noticed people who are clear on what their goals generally tend to have more successful NDIS journeys.
3. Make sure you understand your plan
If you take the time to understand what your NDIS funding can cover and what supports are available to you, it opens up so many possibilities.
We’ve put together this resource on the NDIS funding categories. This blog breaks down the difference between core, capital and capacity building.
Your supports will be organised into categories under these funding types. Each category relates to a specific outcome to reflect the goals and aspirations you’d like to achieve. These categories can cover expenses you may not think of, so read up about each category and what it covers.
If you feel like you don’t really understand some of your NDIS plan, it’s okay. Reach out to people you trust, like a family member, support coordinator or a plan manager.
4. Be creative
Being creative often leads to the best plan outcomes, and this all comes back to choice and control.
Gone are the days where people with disability didn’t have much choice and control. Under old systems, the government would directly fund service providers and it was often a one-size-fits-all approach.
You deserve support that is tailored to you. The NDIS has been designed to help meet your individual needs and circumstances. While it’s not a perfect scheme, it does offer some flexibility and often this requires a bit of creativity to think through your options.
5. Use your funds (no, really)
While this tip may seem obvious, it may surprise you that around 30% of NDIS funds go unspent.
If you don’t use your funding it doesn’t roll over at the end of your plan. It goes back to the NDIA.
So while there are many participants who have a plan for every dollar of support, there’s a big group of people who, for a variety of reasons, don’t use all their funding.
If you have funding for something under the NDIS it means it's been deemed reasonable and necessary. It is there to make your life better. So when it comes to making the most of your funding often a big thing can just be to make sure you’re using your funds.
Also, by using your funds you can show the NDIS how the scheme is helping in your plan reviews. If you are leaving a lot of these funds unspent without a reason your planner may be less inclined to give you as much funding in your next plan.
6. Keep checking in to see how you’re tracking
Once you’ve got your NDIS plan, you’ve set up your supports and you’re cruising, it’s important that you still keep tabs on where you’re at financially. You don’t want to be 3 months out from the end of your NDIS plan and realise that you have burned through all of your funding. Checking in periodically can really help you stay informed on how things are going.
At the end of the day, making the most of your NDIS funding helps you make the most of your life. While the NDIS scheme can be daunting, complex and riddled with paperwork it also has the ability to truly transform your day to day and help you achieve what’s important to you.