Angela Hegarty is passionate about the National Disability Insurance Scheme and helping families prepare for the transition. She has worked on the NDIS roll out in Port Stephens, NSW and is now dedicated to the transitioning in the Toowoomba region (including Roma, Warwick and Stanthorpe).
A large part of her work involves meetings with families and providing training to Endeavour Foundation staff in interpreting NDIS plans. Here, she shares the lessons she has learned about the NDIS.
What has been your experience with the NDIS so far, Ange?
The process to transition to the NDIS is a big learning curve for everyone. My experience at Port Stephens gave me insight into the varying customer experiences in the planning meetings with the NDIA. The meeting with the NDIA planner is the first step and it is important to remember that this is really a conversation about your family member.
The Planner (or Local Area Co-ordinator) will lead you through questions and it is important to make sure you understand the question fully and answer carefully. If you've prepared a pre-planning document, such as Mapping My World, to cover all elements of support that are required in your circumstances, it's important to take it with you, to ensure everything is discussed with the Planner.
Can you give an example?
Yes, an elderly parent whose adult son lived at home with her. The parent was asked by the NDIA Planner if she still had a car and was able to drive. The parent did still have her driver’s licence and proudly confirmed this to the Planner. What the parent didn’t realise was that her answer impacted on the amount of transport funding for her son.
The reality was that this parent did still have her licence, but at 82 years of age, she actually didn’t drive further than the mailbox and her son’s transport needed to be with support workers instead. Fortunately as we attended the meeting with her, we were able to quickly clear this up, and transport funding was subsequently added into her son’s Plan.
What advice would you give to people in transitioning to the NDIS?
Understanding your family member’s true support needs (funded or unfunded) and being able to talk about those needs at the plan meeting is of utmost importance. Your NDIA meeting is really a conversation between yourself and the Planner. Be as prepared as you can be, and remember you can ask a Manager from Endeavour Foundation to come along to your planning meeting if you choose.
If you are intending to request funding for an additional support to meet a specific need (e.g. a mobility aid or transport modification), then you are likely to be asked by the Planner to provide evidence, such as an assessment from Occupational Therapist. It is best to be prepared with the documentation prior to your NDIS meeting to avoid delays.
Any final words of advice?
Sometimes just understanding the way the ‘system’ works can have a powerful impact. Being able to use the knowledge I’ve gained to help people secure the support services they need is my favourite part of my work.
I am here to support families in preparing for the NDIS. I can’t guarantee you will get everything you ask for at your NDIA meeting, but I can guarantee that if you don’t ask, then you definitely won’t get it.