My NDIS safety net (by Rachel Capps)
In her third guest blog post for Plan Partners, Rachel Capps writes about how she prepares for her upcoming third annual review of her NDIS plan and how she feels about the support she's getting – her NDIS safety net.
‘Is there a time of the year the NDIS feels particularly bumpy for you?
For me, that time is my annual review, and the months surrounding it. The rest of the year is smooth sailing, that period around my review can leave me feeling unsettled and disappointed…and my third review fast approaches.
Last year’s review was a rough one, but it did teach me some important lessons. In a crushing blow, I lost funding for my hydrotherapy - something that helped me immensely on my road to recovery. Just before my review, my hydrotherapist closed down and I hadn’t sourced an alternative venue in time. Just like that, my funding was cut. I totally understand NDIS not handing money over for something that isn’t happening, even if it is listed in my goals, but it highlighted how important it is to have your ducks in a row and be organized.
This experience is just one example of why review time puts me on edge. I need to put my life on hold to have meetings with my Support Coordinator and Plan Manager, gather reports from anyone helping me with my goals, and ensure there’s enough money in the budget to pay for those reports. I mean, numbers are difficult at the best of times: throw in managing therapist bookings, juggling carers ill or on holiday, plus balancing your family finances - and you have a perfect storm for stress.
Luckily, determining whether my spending is going over or under my NDIS budgets is now a lot easier with the dashboard on Plan Partners’ website. It’s one less thing to worry about, so I’d urge you to see if your plan manager offers a similar tool and, if they do, use it.
Back to the review. Anyone who’s prepared for their review will be familiar with the feeling of pouring over different spending categories, and budgets, until you have a headache. I mean, is there really a difference between Improved Health and Wellbeing and Improved Life Choices? Isn’t improving your health a good life choice? Even after three years, I still find the NDIS lingo and its many quirks immensely hard to follow, but I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it … until it changes.
After needing to swap cleaners a few times throughout the year, I found the process of employing new providers was smooth, and each swap without stress. One thing to be aware of: I feel some providers seem to think they can jump aboard the ‘NDIS’ band wagon, charge like wounded bulls, but forget to provide a decent service. The good thing about the NDIS: you can switch to a better one!
One major thing I’ve learnt over my NDIS journey is to think in terms of practical goals – the more tangible and measurable, the better. For example, one of my initial goals was to speak on the phone by 2020, but on the advice of my Support Coordinator I changed it to, “speak with my family and friends on the phone.” A subtle change, but one that can make all the difference when it comes to the NDIS. Since then, I’ve organised a phone to help me achieve that very specific goal. Oh, how nice and liberating it is to have a phone again! And the best thing? My voice is so distorted when I say, ‘please leave a message’, I send pesky telemarketers running.
Before my stroke, I was an expert at dealing with banks, handling probate, writing wills, selling houses, and yes, dealing with the Government. But despite having built my career off navigating the ins-and-out of things like the NDIS with ease, I wouldn’t dream of trying to self-manage my funding arrangements.
Not because I’m not capable, but because I have other, more important things to focus on – like my health, getting better, and my family. I’d much rather use my time to work towards getting my life back than studying the NDIS and managing a mountain of paperwork.
For someone new to NDIS, I’d strongly suggest doing the same. The NDIS is the very definition of shark-infested waters, so getting any help possible – particularly in the early stages – is a major relief. Ask for Plan Management (you get it when you ask for it!) and see if you can get Support Coordination in your plan as well. Stubbornly trying to go it alone isn’t worth the stress and baldness that comes from ripping your hair out in frustration…trust me.
So next time you’re feeling stressed or hit a rocky patch on your NDIS journey, know that expert help is never far away, and let Plan Management and Support Coordination be your safety net.'
Read Rachel's previous blogs for Plan Partners here:
'How to make the NDIS work for you' (April 2018)
‘Reflecting on a long journey of recovery’ (September 2018)
In 2018 Rachel published her book 'Spades of Determination: A locked-in journey', which tells Rachel’s story as she embarks of the long journey of rehabilitation and disability support after a brain stem stroke turned her life upside down.
Click here for more information about Plan Management and Support Coordination, or give our friendly team a call on 1300 333 700.