While we’re all a bit fed up with them, it seems like lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be here to stay – for a little while at least. While lockdowns can be stressful and isolating, it’s important to know there’s a big community to support you as you keep on achieving your NDIS goals and connecting with supports.
So, until we can return to normal life, here are some useful tips for how to get the most out of your NDIS funds during lockdown.
Support is here for you
The NDIS is an essential service, so it will continue supporting you throughout the pandemic. While restrictions may mean you’ll need to make some changes to your NDIS supports, most (if not all) service providers will continue to operate in some way or another. So, while you might need to make a few adjustments, like switching to an online class or introducing extra COVID safety measures, you’ll be able to continue accessing your supports and working towards your goals through lockdown.
If you’re a Plan Partners’ customer, know that we are here for you and continue to be open during our normal hours of operation. If you need advice, have a question, or simply want to speak to someone, don’t hesitate to contact our team. We’re here to help.
Tip 1: Protecting yourself with PPE
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. That’s why you can use your NDIS funding to buy face masks, gloves, and other PPE to help keep you and your service providers safe through the pandemic.
If you receive face-to-face supports, you can buy up to $50 of PPE a week to wear during your sessions. This comes out of your Core supports budget, using the Low-Cost Disability-Related Health Consumables line item.
Tip 2: Staying connected with technology – using your NDIS funds to purchase an iPad
With many therapists now providing support remotely, having an iPad or similar tablet can let you access online sessions during a lockdown. That’s why you’re able to use your Core supports budget to purchase an iPad or tablet up to the value of $750, provided it’s necessary to connect with your therapist and meets all the usual criteria of reasonable and necessary. Learn how we’ve partnered with Officeworks to help you easily buy iPads and PPE with your NDIS budget.
Tip 3: Meal preparation and delivery
If lockdowns and restrictions mean you’re no longer able to go shopping or your support worker can’t assist you with cooking, you can use your NDIS Core funding to pay for meals to be delivered to your door. If you plan manage or self manage your funds, you can even order from services like Uber Eats or Menulog. While the NDIS will cover the cost of preparing and delivering meals, you’ll have to pay for the ingredients.
Tip 4: Access to more supports through a plan manager
During lockdowns, supports can be trickier to access. With plan management, you get to choose from a wider pool of providers because you have access to both unregistered NDIS providers as well as registered providers. The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) made it easier for people to switch to plan management during the pandemic for this very reason. A good plan manager will also offer expert advice on how you can keep accessing supports and provide you with handy tools to make your NDIS journey easier.
At Plan Partners, we give you the support, info, and tools, to confidently manage your funds and get the supports you need. We have worked with our customers throughout the pandemic to ensure they feel informed, supported, and able to find creative ways to keep working towards their NDIS goals.
Tip 5: Think outside the (lockdown) box
Lockdowns can take a toll on your mental health, so it’s important to try and keep doing things you find fun and stimulating. While you might not be able to interact with people in real life, there are plenty of ways to build social connections and experience new things using the internet. From virtual tours and concerts to online cooking or medication classes, there are plenty of things to keep you entertained and engaged. If your NDIS goals relate to building your social skills and getting more active in the community, you can even use your funding to pay for online classes or lessons.
Tip 6: Cleaners, gardeners, and other providers are essential
Essential workers are allowed to continue working throughout the pandemic. Providing health or social assistance meets the definition of an essential worker (for example, in NSW a person employed or engaged to provide services to persons with disability or vulnerable persons is an essential worker. This includes gardeners and cleaners, as these services are necessary if you’re unable to perform them yourself).
We recommend your providers carry proof of their appointment in case they’re stopped by authorities. This can be a bit of a grey area. However, if they can show they’re working and clearly state they’re delivering vital services to a person with disability, there shouldn't be any issues.
All NDIS participants and their support workers are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of age or other factors. So, if you’re willing and able to get vaccinated, you can! To book your vaccination, head to the Government’s Vaccine Eligibility Checker and follow the prompts, making sure to select yes when asked, “are you a person with disability?” Please follow the advice of medical professionals when deciding whether the vaccine is suitable for you.
Help is there, when you need it
If you’re going through a difficult time, no matter what the reason, help is available. Talking about things helps to lighten the load and there are lots of organisations and resources you can reach out to, including:
- Lifeline – 131114
A national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
- Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636
An Australian independent non-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, suicide, anxiety disorders and other related mental disorders.
- Domestic Violence support – 1800 737 732
24-hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
- National Debt hotline – 1800 007 007
A not-for-profit service that helps people in Australia tackle their debt problems.