Do you have an NDIS plan? If your answer is ‘yes’, you’ve probably heard about an NDIS plan review. To help you prepare for your important annual plan review, we’re sharing some top tips from our Community Engagement Manager in the NSW Hunter Region, Caroline Daley, and her daughter, Siobhan.
Siobhan and Caroline’s Story
In 2013, Caroline’s daughter, Siobhan, then 13-years-old, became one of the first people in the country to receive an NDIS plan. They soon became the first family to self-manage an NDIS plan in Australia.
With six years’ experience with the NDIS, self-management and multiple plan reviews at their back, Caroline is recognised as a ‘pioneer’ by the National Disability Insurance Agency, and Siobhan is well-known as the ‘public face’ of the NDIS.
What is an NDIS plan review?
An NDIS plan review is your opportunity to make adjustments to your plan and support goals within your plan for the following year. A plan review is carried out between you and an NDIA planner, Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or an Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) partner. During the meeting, you will discuss multiple aspects of your NDIS plan. If you’re aged between 7 and 65 years, you will most likely complete your plan review with a LAC or NDIA planner. If your child is receiving NDIS funding, you will meet with an ECEI partner.
You’ll be contacted by a LAC, NDIA planner or ECEI partner to organise an NDIS plan review meeting before your first NDIS plan finishes.
To help you feel confident, prepared and positive when it comes to your NDIS plan review, the Mable Team have created the below guide, borrowing the best tips from Caroline and Siobhan.
Brainstorm your current plan
Before your plan review, you should spend some time brainstorming what aspects of your plan didn’t work well, and what aspects did work well. For example, you might not have adequate companionship or social support to search and apply for a job. Or, you might have achieved a goal you set, such as completing studies or attending hydrotherapy sessions. Having these positive and negative aspects written down can help you and those in your meeting to map out better solutions for you.
Caroline also suggests that any equipment or assistive devices should be carefully considered in an NDIS plan review. If you are using devices such as mobility aids, cognitive aids or voice recognition technologies, these should be reviewed by a trusted occupational therapist (OT). Assistive devices are often instrumental in providing independence to people living with a disability, and these should be considered a key part of your plan review if you use these devices on a daily basis.
For Siobhan, plan reviews help her to receive new equipment: “I was growing out of my wheelchair – one more growth spurt and I’d start resembling a praying mantis! I spoke with my OT about what we needed to do to get a replacement. He gave me a quote for the number of hours it would take to find the right chair for me. I gave the quote to the LAC, and the funding for the OT was included in my new plan.”
Have a health summary from professionals
Many things can happen over 12 months. Before you choose a date for your plan review, you may wish to check in with your trusted therapist or health professional to receive a summary of your current wellbeing and health. With these documents, you can review your progress over the year and use them to track any personal achievements.
During an NDIS plan review, your health summary may not be requested by the LAC, ECEI or NDIA planner, however, your health summary is a key document that can help you personally plan for new goals.
Assess whether you’ve achieved your goals
In any NDIS plan, there are goals that can help you to increase your independence and experience control on a daily basis. Sometimes, it can be hard to achieve multiple goals in one year. With an NDIS plan, it may become difficult to complete goals that require funding, such as transport to attend job interviews or equipment to participate in competitive sports games. Or, if you did have the appropriate funding, you may not have had enough time to achieve those goals. Whatever these goals might be, write a detailed description of each and share this with your planner.
Assessing your goals is an integral part of your NDIS plan review as it allows your planner to better allocate funds for the following year. If there are goals you didn’t achieve, you should prepare responses to justify your outcomes.
Decide whether you’d like to change your goals
If you didn’t feel your previous goals were achievable or realistic, you can work new goals into your next NDIS plan. Many people with an NDIS plan change their goals from year to year, and an NDIS plan review is a perfect opportunity to act on those changes.
Throughout her teenage years, Siobhan had many different goals that would change each time her plan review came around. Today, her goals are focused on exercising complete independence.
“I was so excited to go into the review meeting before my third plan. Along with Mum, I had made the decision that I wanted to start working towards moving out of home. I know that it might take me a while before I can, but it is so great seeing the new goal ‘I want to move out of home’ in writing,” says Siobhan.
A key reason that individuals are unable to achieve all their goals is that they might not have access to the right support. For Siobhan, there were particular funds that she was unable to use for personal reasons, but during her plan review, she was able to organise an even better-suited plan.
“In 2015, it took me a while to find the right staff and I became sick. I explained that to my planner, and then I told them my goals for the next year. I was really excited that my new plan would let me do everything I want to do in the following year.”
Bring along someone you trust
“I was almost sick knowing that my review meeting was coming up. I worked with some friends beforehand and they helped me put together a sheet of what had happened during the year and what I wanted to talk about. Then Mum and my main [support worker] came to the review meeting with me to help me speak up. It worked.”
Like Siobhan, you might find it useful to have a close and supportive family member or friend to accompany you to your plan review. This may be especially helpful if you have not attended an NDIS plan review meeting before. Having another person is also beneficial in helping you remember aspects of the meeting and it might make you feel more comfortable and relaxed.
Know which management option suits you
A plan review meeting is also an opportunity for you to review management options for your NDIS plan. With an NDIS plan, you can choose to have your plan agency managed, plan managed or self-managed. Each plan management option has its own benefits and unique functions.
For example, an agency managed plan means you can connect with an NDIS registered provider who could help you to find support options, while a self-managed plan can allow you to receive your NDIS funding and pay for support directly from your own bank account. If you’re thinking about changing your management option, you can discuss this with your planner at your next plan review meeting – just like Siobhan did.
“I knew it was right to be able to self-manage my funding. I’m good with money so I held firm on my decision. Once I learned what to do, it was even easier than I expected it to be.”
A self-managed or plan managed NDIS plan can also allow you to better utilise platforms like Mable, which enables people to directly connect with independent support workers and form long-lasting support relationships. To learn how all NDIS management types can work with Mable, click here.
Your NDIS management type is extremely important in allowing you a support system that can help devise a lifestyle that suits you. “Independence looks very different to each person. Siobhan won’t be able to get out of bed or feed herself, so she still needs support for those things. But the importance lies in how she leads her team and how she can determine what her life looks like,” says Caroline.
Want to learn more about self-managing an NDIS plan? Read the complete Self Management Guide.
You can download the NDIS ‘Using your NDIS plan’ booklet to learn more about preparing for your plan review here.
Or, want to learn more about Siobhan’s NDIS journey? Read our interview here.
Ready to achieve more with your NDIS plan? With Mable, you can directly connect to support options in your local area and start receiving support sooner. Learn more about Mable.
Caroline Daley is a mother of two, a pioneer of the NDIS, an advocate for self-management, the founder of planHELP and is Mable’s Community Engagement Manager for the NSW Hunter Region.