NDIS Participants can now buy an iPad to continue supports during the pandemic
Participants are generally able to spend up to $1500 on low cost AT items,
Many service providers, including Allied Health professionals and therapists, are continuing to deliver services to participants online.
The NDIA has temporarily allowed a flexible approach to purchasing low cost AT items, allowing participants to buy low cost AT items, such as iPads and fitness equipment, in consultation with their existing support providers.
Who can buy an iPad or therapy-related equipment?
Participants can buy iPads of other computer tablets and equipment if:
- it will allow them to keep receiving funded NDIS supports - like a therapist continuing their service via video conferencing
- the provider of supports has confirmed in writing (see more info below) the device is "necessary to continue supports and services while maintaining physical distancing requirements", and
- it is the cheapest form of AT that will maintain their supports
- they do not already have the AT item, a similar AT item or can borrow the AT item
- the item has not been funded by another service system (such as education), AND
- the item or circumstances are not specifically excluded
What needs to be included in the written advice by a provider?
If a specific item is required to maintain supports, written advice will be required to support this purchase.
You must make sure the written advice is provided to the NDIA – you can upload it to your participant record or ask your provider or plan manager to email it to the NDIA at firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject like ‘Low cost AT flexibility evidence’.
You and your provider should also keep a copy in case the Agency requests it at a later date.
The written advice (which can include an email) should include:
- the participant’s name and NDIS number;
- confirmation that delivery of current supports in the participant’s plan has been significantly hindered due to physical distancing restrictions (or other consequences of coronavirus (COVID-19)) and that alternate solutions to maintain delivery/outcome have been considered, but do not fully address the limitations;
- how the device is necessary to maintain supports and services while maintaining physical distancing requirements;
- the specific technologies and associated accessories required, and that these represent the lowest specification capable of delivering the benefit; and
- that the participant is able to use the device/s to access the support.
How much can I spend?
Participants should not spend more than $750 on electronic devices needed to maintain existing services.
In the case of iPads (computer tablets) for telehealth and care or participating in online video classes, a standard device should be sufficient and costs around $600.
NOTE: The $750 for this AT is over and above any existing LOW COST AT Funding you may have in your plan.
NOTE: Although this funding does not cover tablets with a mobile 3g or 4g mobile connection, you can use your own money to pay the difference for a tablet with a connection.
Where can I buy an iPad or Computer Tablet?
- Plan managed or self-managed participants can purchase these items from any provider.
- Agency managed participants can purchase these from any registered NDIS provider OR can buy an iPad from a Therapy or Support Coordination Provider (who buys it on your behalf).
Can I buy a laptop or a desktop computer instead of an iPad?
Generally no, unless you and your provider agree they are the most suitable solution to continue your supports and for your particular disability needs, and they are within the low cost AT price limit.
You can only buy items that help you continue to access your existing supports and services. You cannot use your NDIS funding to purchase a smart device for entertainment, education or gaming.
What funds in my NDIS plan do I use to buy an iPad or equipment?
Participants should now ALL have funds available in CORE -> Consumables.
Participants who only have funding in their capacity building budget can use the special line item to enable the use of this new flexible approach:
COVID-19 Low Cost AT to support Capacity Building support delivery 15_222400911_0124_1_3
What other Low Cost AT does this flexibility cover?
This announcement covers any equipment you need that allows you to continue receiving your supports.
For example, you may need an exercise band or a gym ball to continue your exercises with a therapist online.
What can you NOT spend these AT funds on?
- The item does not relate to the participant's disability - i.e you cannot buy the device for gaming, entertainment or equipment not previously used by your support services.
- Devices with extra specifications above the basic model - A participant can only purchase a device which is fit for purpose for maintaining NDIS funded supports. The NDIS will generally fund the lowest specification.
- Smart phones, tablets or iPads with mobile connections cannot be purchased BUT If you want a tablet with a 3G or 4G mobile connection, you can use your own money to pay the difference
- Participants cannot purchase multiple devices nor if they already own or have access to a device that would meet their needs.
What happens if the iPad is damaged?
Replacements for loss or damage will generally follow the existing NDIS AT replacement policy (noting that replacement of items will generally not apply once this policy ends).
Can I use the funds to pay for internet data or software?
Internet connection and data costs are considered ordinary living costs (utilities) and are excluded from this policy.
Software application are not funded, however, apps which have been specified and approved in a plan can be paid for with NDIS funding.
What about additional hardware or accessories?
Standard protective cases WILL be funded by the NDIS.
Other accessories will not be funded like:
- screen protectors
- additional or back up chargers
- selfie sticks
- connection cables
EXCEPTION: Additional hardware and accessories may be purchased if they relate to using the device because of the participant’s disability, such as mounting on a wheelchair for a person with limited grip or rugged case where related to behaviour issues.
When should you be renting equipment instead of buying it?
Renting the item might be a better option if costs more than $100 as this represents better value for money.