How to use the NDIS to get more independence

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What do you want out of the NDIS?

For a lot of people, the answer is going to be ‘more independence’.

If this sounds like you, read on and we’ll look at how the NDIS could act as a pathway to greater independence for your individual circumstances.

Step 1) Put the person with a disability in the driving seat

This one’s for the family: 

When it comes to promoting independence in adults with a disability, putting them in the driving seat is one of the best things you can do.

It’s vital to support, rather than manage choices made by the person you assist.

Sometimes when we care about someone’s well-being there may be a tendency to closely manage the situation in order to protect and nurture them. Giving up control of the situation can feel like the end result is out of our hands. However, it’s likely the more you are managing the situation, the less responsibility others will take on, and the more reliant they will become on you as their carer.

Instead of seeking to manage every interaction and decision, begin to find ways that you can gradually switch to a mode of offering support instead.

Sometimes the shift from “control” to “support” can be as simple as some small tweaks to the language you use. Instead of telling someone what to do, ask him or her what they would like to do.

Making this a gradual process will give your family member a sense of security in the process of moving towards greater self-determination.

Step 2) Work out what independence means to you

No two people are their same, and neither are their ideas of independence.

For one person, independence might mean learning new skills like cooking or how to use public transport. For another, it might mean getting a job or moving out of the family home.

One of the most important things to do is to imagine yourself as ‘independent’ – what does that look like?

Got the image?

Good, now write it down! You’ve now got yourself a goal.

Now ask yourself ‘why is this important’?

Great, write that down too!

This all comes back to justifying why something is reasonable and necessary, which will help you out when you meet with your NDIS Planner.

Step 3) Be clear in your NDIS planning meeting

One of the most important things to remember going in to your meeting is that the NDIS Planner does not know you.

They will only know what you tell them.

To make it easy for both you and the planner what you want to do is be really clear and specific about your goals and the supports you need. That includes for both daily life and and for achieving goals in the future.

This will lead to the best outcomes.

At the end of the day, your Planner wants to help you find more independence, too.

Step 4) Take it slow

Achieving independence requires patience. It’s about a series of small steps that add up to a more empowered lifestyle and more choice for the things that matter to you in your life.

The challenge is that many adults with disabilities have experienced strongly nurturing and highly protective environments. Independence and decision-making power may be foreign concepts, which means that if things happen too quickly, fear and anxiety can take over.

The solution is to start slowly, and maintain an achievable pace throughout your NDIS journey.

It’s also good to remember that your plan doesn’t have to be something you need to achieve in one year, instead it may be the first few steps in a journey that will flow into a number of plans.

I want help

Need some inspiration? Here are three stories to get you going!

Mary's story

Katie's Story

21 tips to promoting independence in adults with disability

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