Why set goals in an NDIS plan?
When we set goals we are aiming to achieve something.
A common method for goal setting is to set SMART goals.
A SMART goal is a goal that is:
For example, if I just say I want to lose weight, I’m unlikely to do it. But if say I want to lose 5kg over 6 months by not eating after dinner and exercising 5 days a week, then I’m much more likely to succeed.
Setting goals is a really important part of developing your NDIS plan.
For you to receive funding for a support or service, the NDIA needs to decide whether your request is reasonable and necessary and is linked to a goal in your plan.
In other words, the goals you choose set the foundation for what support funding the NDIA will include in your plan.
If all your goals are around communication, then it makes sense that you would likely receive funding for a speech therapist, but not a physiotherapist.
You might set goals to help you to continue things you are already doing or include goals to help you achieve something in the future.
How to choose a goal?
Often choosing a goal is the hardest part, when you just don’t know what you should be asking for.
It's not so much about choosing services, but about choosing a broader goal that will allow you to choose from many services to reach them.
Here are some tips for coming up with ideas:
- Have a brainstorm and write down what things you would like your child to continue doing. Write down what things you would like them to achieve in the future - no matter how big those dreams are.
- Think about the things children their age usually do. Does your child have any unmet needs compared to other typical children their age?
- Ask other parents with a child of similar age and disability if they are happy to share their goals. There are a number of great NDIS Facebook groups where parents are happy to share their goals.
- Ask your child’s therapists for ideas. They can help you think of different areas to consider eg communication (receptive and verbal language), physical development (gross and fine motor skills), cognitive skills, social interaction (social skills), self-care, emotional regulation, behaviour (safety) etc.
- Look at the different support budgets that may be funded in your NDIS plan in Booklet 3 – Using your NDIS plan (Pg 6-7). It might give you an idea around formulating a goal to include a particular support or service in your plan.
How many goals?
You may have heard a rumour that you can you only have X amount of goals in your plan.
But there is nothing in the NDIS Act (Section 33) or the NDIS Planning Operational guidelines (Section 7) which states how many goals you are ‘allowed’ to include.
In fact, it says the plan MUST include the goals prepared by the participant. Go ahead and read it for yourself.
But there is probably such a thing as having too many goals. My daughter Maia has six goals in her current plan which relate to communication, cognitive skills, social skills, self-care, fine and gross motor skills and behaviour.
You should look at setting some short-term goals and some medium to long-term goals.
Short-term goals are things you hope to achieve in a year (most plans will be funded for 12-24 months) and medium to long-term goals are things that may take several years to achieve but it’s still important to be making steps towards them.
How to write a goal?
Choose a broader statement as a goal and then be a bit more specific in how you might measure achieving that goal.
For example in Maia’s plan it says:
Goal: Maia would like to further develop her gross motor skills.
How I will achieve this goal: For example, Maia will be able to ride her bike to and from the carpark (in the neighbourhood).
The overall general goal is broad in that Maia wants to develop her gross motor skills. But a Realistic, Specific example is given for the NDIA to Measure her Achievement, which is that she will be able to ride her bike to the carpark within a 12 month Timeframe.
We chose this goal because we could tell Maia wanted to go on bike rides with her sister. To be honest, I didn’t think she would accomplish this in a year because she was too scared to sit on her bike and she couldn’t steer at all!
Maia worked with a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist to increase her leg strength, balance, stamina and confidence. Within a few months, she was riding her bike on her own and joining her sister down at the car park.
Even though she achieved this goal earlier than we expected, we have continued to use her funding to help her develop other gross motor skills. Maybe in her next plan, her goal can be to ride a bike with no training wheels!
Once you chose your goals then you would include what supports you think is required to achieve those outcomes.
The NDIA will then decide if these requests are reasonable and necessary. They will take into account factors such as whether the support needed is related to the participant’s disability, if it represents value for money, if the support is likely to be effective and beneficial and considers informal supports provided by family and the community.
Remember, if you are self-managed then once the funding is approved, you have the greatest flexibility in how you decide to use that funding.
For example, the NDIA may decide it is reasonable and necessary to fund 20 hours of speech therapy and 20 hours of physiotherapy. But you might decide it makes more sense to allocate 30 hours to speech therapy and 10 hours to physiotherapy.
It is really up to you. Just remember that the goals each person sets will be individual to them. That is why no two plans are alike. So it’s not necessary to compare your plan or the amount of funding you have received with anyone else.
The most important thing is developing goals that will help your child to achieve their aspirations and receive the supports you need to help them to accomplish that.
*Please note: This is written from the prospective of a mum who is the nominee for my child’s NDIS plan. So when I am talking about goal setting I am referring to setting goals for my daughter’s plan. My dream is that she will one day be able to share with me her own aspirations and choose her own goals for her plan.
**Disclaimer: The information provided is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered official advice in regards to setting goals for an NDIS plan.
Maia's mum has written another wonderful resource titled: "How to Self Manage - a mum's perspective"