Once you know that you are eligible for NDIS funding, you will need to have a planning meeting with a Local Area Coordinator, Planner or Early Childhood Access Partner. They will be responsible for creating your plan.
Here are our top resources to help you prepare, as this is absolutely vital to ensure you get the best possible NDIS Plan.
Overview of what happens
For an overview of the process and what will happen when you have your first planning meeting, we can refer you to the official NDIS Guide:
Preparing for your Planning Meeting
A number of our MyCareSpace community members said that when they went into their first planning meeting their "minds just went blank!" This is understandable as you will most likely be stressed and perhaps nervous and emotional. All of these feelings don't help when you're trying to think clearly and answer important questions.
By preparing beforehand and having your notes, workbook, reports on hand, you will be able to refer to this information easily.
1. Complete a pre planning workbook (links below) in the weeks prior to your meeting.
The workbook allows you to think about and answer key questions about your family supports, daily activities, transport and more. It also allows you to keep a record of your daily activities and routines which you will be asked about in the planning meeting.
Note absolutely everything you do with the person whose plan you are working on. For example, if as a carer you tie shoelaces, brush teeth or even put an opal card in a back pocket - write it down.
Write down everything you do or spend that you would not do or spend if you were not disabled - this is important.
Let me state that again: Think of what you spend on yourself, child, person for whom you care. Would you spend that is the person was not disabled? If the answer is NO, write it down. The NDIS provides funding for disability-related expenses.
Focus on the maximum assistance a person needs when things are bad. This is particularly important for people with a psycho-social condition, as things normally go in cycles. If you focus on your best possible day, you're more than likely not going to get the funding you need when you have a downturn. When your planner asks how many meltdowns your child has a year/month, think of the most they have ever had.
Here are links to different versions of a workbook to record your daily activities:
- NDIS Booklet 2: Planning
- Pre Planning Workbook for a Child
- Pre Planning Workbook for an Adult
- If you are a Carer, here is a great workbook from Carer's Australia
If you are a carer, you should also write a statement about how caring for someone full time affects your own life. Again, a planner needs to know what you go through every day and especially on your worst day of care.
2. Bring a list of any Current Service Providers
If you currently use providers, have them summarise what services they provide you with and what they expect to provide over the next year and the cost of this.
3. Bring Reports or Assessments where necessary
Bring a copy of any recent reports (no more than 2 years old) or assessments from allied health professionals to your planning meeting. Don’t worry if you don’t have any – there’s no need to go and pay for extra reports before your planning meeting.
4. Don't go alone
It is imperative that you take a family member or friend or advocate to support you. The NDIS do not fund advocacy support. If you don't have a family member or friend who can go with you, you are entitled to an advocate from an agency in your area.
Find a Disability Advocate
5. Think about your Goals
Your Planner will discuss setting your goals. Goals are things you want to achieve with support from the NDIS and other supports and services. Examples may include: becoming more independent, getting a job, learning new skills, making friends etc. You should try to make your goals as specific as possible
It's suggested that you have 2 short term goals (within the next 12 months) and 2 - 4 long term goals (more than 12 months). It is useful to have developed your goals before you attend the planning meeting. These goals can be changed/adapted at the planning meeting through discussion with the LAC or NDIS planner. However, they should be YOUR goals and should not be changed by either the LAC or the NDIS planner.
Goals should focus on an outcome, rather than about the services needed to achieve the outcome. For example, if an NDIS participant attends a day program, the goal might be “To spend more time in my local community and develop skills so that I can be more independent”, not “To attend my day program.” Goals need to be broad enough that you can make creative changes throughout the year and can use different types of services that would help achieve the goal.
Every dollar in an NDIS plan needs to be used in a way that links to a goal written in the plan. For example, if you want support to get a job, you need to have it as a goal in the plan. That means that you need to write short-term goals in a way that ensures everything you need is covered in two goals.
I repeat Every dollar in an NDIS plan needs to be used in a way that links to a goal written in the plan.
6. Know how you want to Manage your Plan
You will be asked by your planner if you wish to be:
- agency managed (NDIA handles everything and you have to use NDIS price guide),
- plan managed (plan manager pays all your bills for you and you have to use the NDIS price guide),
- self-managed (you do it all)
- or a combination
You have a choice!
Here is a short summary of the 3 options:
Agency Managed (Overview)
- You will have much less control over which providers you use - you have to choose registered NDIS providers.
- You can only pay NDIS price guide rates.
- NDIS will directly pay your support providers for you.
Plan Management (overview)
- A Plan Manager takes care of all the admin tasks of engaging service providers, setting up service agreements and paying their invoices.
- This is a good start point if you think you might like to move on to Self Management after your first year.
- Everyone is entitled to a plan manager at no additional cost (i.e. won't affect any of your funding).
- If you want to use a Plan Manager, you need to ask for this in your meeting.
- Self Management allows you to choose any providers you want to use - they don't need to be NDIS registered - and you can pay whatever you like (provided you have funding of course).
- You will need a separate bank account so set this up before your meeting and take in the details with you.
- This is also a good option if you already have established care workers and they are not NDIS registered. Being Self Managed means that you can continue to use them under your NDIS plan.
- Watch Webinar: MyGetting the Most from your NDIS Plan: Plan Management vs Self Management
- Self Management v Plan Management - What's the difference? Advantages and Disadvantages?
- NDIS Guide to Self Management
7. Ask Questions
Write down beforehand any questions you have so you don't forget to ask them.
Here are some suggestions by Endeavour Foundation:
- How will my plan be sent to me?
- Do I need a computer or email address?
- If I need to send you information or ask a question after this meeting, how do I contact you?
- Will I be able to review the plan before it is finalised?
- How long after my planning meeting will I receive my plan?
- What happens if something is missing from my plan? Who do I call?
- Who will help me understand my plan? How do I send the money?
- What is a support coordinator and will I be funded for this?
- What is plan management?