Once you know that you are eligble for NDIS funding, you will need to have a planning meeting with a Local Area Coordiantor or Planner. Here are our top resources to help you prepare, as this is absolutely vital to ensure you get the 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:
Pre Planning Workbook is essential
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 but also avoidable with just a little preparation. Assume you will 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.
Our top tips for getting ready for your planning meeting (and getting the most out of it) is to take a friend or mentor with you and take your notes into the meeting with you.
So you asking " What notes?"
Based on the experience of others, the suggestion is to complete the pre planning workbook (links below) in the weeks prior to your meeting. Although the LAC or planner does not want your notes they will be useful prompts for you to answer their questions.
The pre planning 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.
Its important to record absolutely everything you do with in your routines 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.
Based on the experience of others who have been through the process, the suggestion is to 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 melt downs you child has a year/month, think of the most they have ever had.
Here are links to a couple of versions of the workbook:
Write an Impact Statement
The person with a disability should write a detailed statement about how their disability affects their everyday life. Remember that the planner you are meeting for the first time has no idea what your life looks like. Be sure to paint a picture of your worst day as well.
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.
Do you currently use 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.
Who goes to the meeting with 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 entiled to an advocate from an agency in your area. Here is a list of agencies funded under the National Disability Advocacy Program
Understand how important your Goals are
Your planner will discuss setting goals. This is probably the most important part of your meeting. All your funding relates to your goals so if there is a particular type of funding you need, make sure it ties into your goals. For example if you want speech therapy you could say that you want to have a job and you will need your speech to improve to make that a possibility etc.
NDIS allows for up to seven goals in your plan. The first two goals are the items that the NDIS will fund through “capacity building” if they determine the support to be reasonable and necessary. The remainder of the goals may be used to fund other parts of your plan. 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. Inclusions Support Solutions has a list of sample goals that we can provide if you feel this would help.
Know how you want to manage your plan
You will be asked by your planner if you wish to self mange, be plan managed or be agency managed or have a combination.
When the NDIA manages your plan, the NDIS will directly pay your support providers for you. You have to choose registered NDIS providers if the NDIA manages your plan.
See our guide on Self Management v Plan Management
Who will write my plan?
NDIS Planner or Local Area Coordinator or Early Childhood Access Partner
What happens if I don't get all the funding I need in my plan?
Don't worry too much. This is not your forever plan! You can request a plan review at any time or wait for your yearly assessment and review. The NDIS wants to make sure that your plan is working for you.
So to wrap it up these are the top tips provided by MyCareSpace community:
1. Start today
Your first NDIS planning meeting could be a pivotal moment in your life. It’s time to start thinking about how you want to live your life and what you need to achieve your goals.
2. Think big
The NDIS will transform disability services and it’s for life. It’s time to stop worrying about barriers you might have run into in the past and start thinking about the big picture. What do you want to achieve in your life and how do you want to live it? It might take some time to get used to the idea that the NDIS could actually change your world. It helps to talk through your goals, aspirations and dreams with people that know you well.
3. Write a list or keep a diary
It’s also important to think about your day-to-day reality. What are the barriers you encounter every day that make life harder than it could be? A good way to monitor this is to start documenting them now. You could write a diary,write them in your planning workbook, take photos or keep a list. This will provide concrete examples you can use in your first planning meeting to help you get the most out of your NDIS plan.
4. Be specific
There’s no doubt that the NDIS could be truly transformative – but it’s up to you to make sure you take advantage of it. Try to be as specific as you can about what you need and what you want, what your goals are and how you want to live. Write all of these down and take them along to your first meeting.
5. Get the paperwork done early
It’s a good idea to fill in your planning workbook (links above) well before you go in for your first meeting. It contains important questions about your life and your future and you don’t want to have to come up with an answer on the spot!
6. Get all your documents ready
Before your first meeting get all the documentation you have together so you can streamline the process with your planner. Try to collate all your medical, education and health documents to have it ready. Remember that the NDIS is not interested in any reports that are older than 2 years old.
7. Take someone with you
Take along to your meeting people who know you well. That might be family, friends, support workers or advocates. They’ll help you to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything important and can assist with explaining your situation to your planner.
8. Write down a list of questions that you have about your plan
Take this in with you and have the support person who comes with you take notes when they are answered.
Some questions for your planning meeting as suggested 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?
9. Decide how you will manage your Funds (IMPORTANT)
You need to realise you have a choice. The options are:
- 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
If you are Agency Managed, you will have much less control over which providers you use, the price you pay and how your funds flow in general. The NDIA handles everything.
Plan Management takes care of all the admin tasks of engaging service providers, setting up service agreements and the paying invoices. This is a good start point if you think you might like to move on to Self Management after your first year. If you want to use a Plan Manager, you need to ask for this in your meeting. Everyone is entitled to a plan manager at no additonal cost (i.e. won't affect any of your funding).
Self Management allows you to choose any providers you want to use - they don't need to be NDIS registered and you don't need to stick the to the NDIS price guide.
NOTE: 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.
The NDIS have also recently published a new NDIS Guide to Self Management
How do I include this in my plan?