What is a Functional Capacity Assessment and can it be done online? | MyCareSpace

What is an NDIS Functional Capacity Assessment?

Person in a whelchair traversing a ramp at home

Functional Capacity Assessments (FCA) are a commonly funded NDIS support

This comprehensive resource covers all you need to know about Functional Capacity Assessments (FCA) in the NDIS.

  1. What is a Functional Capacity Assessment (FCA)?
  2. Why do I have a Functional Capacity Assessment in my NDIS plan?
  3. Who can perform a Functional Capacity Assessment?
  4. Can a Functional Capacity Assessment be completed online?
  5. What happens at an NDIS Functional Capacity Assessment?
  6. What does an FCA Report include?
  7. How long does a Functional Capacity Assessment take?
  8. Must the same therapist do the FCA and deliver therapy afterwards?
  9. Do I need a Functional Capacity Assessment to apply for the NDIS?


What is a Functional Capacity Assessment (FCA)?

A Functional Capacity Assessment is a comprehensive assessment of a person's capability across a range of daily activities and environments.

It examines how well you're managing your everyday tasks, like taking care of yourself and handling things around the house. It provides a big picture look at how you're doing in different situations.


An FCA would include an assessment of your capabilities in these areas:

  • Self-care (showering, dressing, grooming tasks)
  • Household tasks (such as cleaning, cooking, vacuuming, mowing lawns)
  • Decision-making or concentration abilities (watching a movie, reading a book, managing finances, cooking tasks with multiple steps, shopping)
  • Management of bowel/bladder
  • Using your senses (visual disturbances or limitations, depth perception, reading small texts, hearing warning signals, ability to undertake conversations in loud rooms or on a phone)
  • Ability to engage in social activities (attend social functions, maintain friendships, leave the home to attend regular appointments without support, use public transport)
  • Mobility (use of aids, walking/standing tolerances, range of movement or whether assistance is needed from another person to manage mobility tasks)
  • Impacts to your physical functioning such as endurance limitations or ability to do a task on a repetitive basis.


Why do I have a Functional Capacity Assessment as part of my NDIS plan?

The purpose of a Functional Capacity Assessment (FCA) in the NDIS is to:

  • assess a person's current functional status,
  • identify any areas where they may require support or assistance,
  • and develop a plan of interventions or recommendations to enhance your independence and quality of life their goals and improve their overall function.


The FCA can be used to justify the NDIS funding or support you require (NDIS applications), or more importantly you may have funding for a FCA in your first NDIS plan to determine the type of therapy and supports that will enable you to reach your goals.

In this scenario, an FCA will identify your support needs to ensure you know how to spend the therapy funding in your NDIS plan.


Who can perform a Functional Capacity Assessment?

The most appropriate therapist to complete a functional capacity assessment is an Occupational Therapist, as their training and skills enable them to assess and analyse all of the factors that contribute to how you live your daily life.

An Occupational Therapist will complete observations, interviewes and standardised assessmetns to gather data on the individual's capabilities and limitations.

In some cases, another allied health professional may be able to complete this assessment if it relates to your specific needs.


How long does a Functional Capacity Assessment take?

The functional capacity assessment can take between two to three hours, and may require one or two visits. The time taken to complete the assessment relates to the complexity of your circumstance.

Report writing time can typically take anywhere between 5-8+ hours. This also depends on how much detail is required, based on the purpose of the report.

For example, if the purpose of the report is to request additional funding in your NDIS plan, you may require additional evidence and justification regarding the specific requirements where more funding is requested.

Speak with your therapist about the anticipated time and costs required for your functional capacity assessment once they have an understanding of the nature of the request and your disability.


Can a Functional Capacity Assessment be completed online?

Yes, it's possible for some components of a Functional Capacity Assessment to be completed online, especially in situations where in-person assessment may not be feasible or accessible.

The extent to which an FCA can be conducted online depends on various factors, including the:

  • nature of the referral
  • individual's specific needs and circumstances
  • technologies available

Delaying an FCA until a face-to-face appointment is needed may delay the opportunity to get therapy started, so an online FCA is better than no FCA!

There is a great deal of capacity to perform the FCA online.

Learn more about telehealth, online therapy and making it work for you.


What happens at an NDIS Functional Capacity Assessment?

The therapist will use a combination of interviews, observations, and both standardised tests and non-standardised tests, which can vary from practice to practice. The NDIS has not issued a standardised Functional Capacity Assessment process to be used.

The assessment typically involves an evaluation of the person’s functional abilities and needs, as well as a review of their daily activities and environments be it at home, work, or community.

Here's an overview of what typically happens during such an assessment:

  1. Initial Interview:
    The process usually begins with an initial interview between you and a healthcare professional conducting the assessment. During this interview, the individual may be asked about their medical history and current health status, about their goals, strengths, and challenges. They will review medical records, gathering information from other doctors or other therapists, as needed. They will also want to speak with your loved one or core support to understand their lived experience of disability.
  2. Assessment of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs):
    The healthcare professional will assess your ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), which include tasks such as bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, eating, and mobility. They may observe you performing these tasks or use standardised assessment tools to gather data.
  3. Assessment of Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs):
    In addition to basic ADLs, the assessment may also include an evaluation of your ability to perform important activities of daily living (IADLs). These tasks typically involve more complex activities necessary for independent living, such as meal preparation, housekeeping, managing medications, shopping, and managing finances.
  4. Functional Mobility Assessment:
    Your mobility and ability to move safely and independently within various environments (e.g., home, community) may be assessed. This can include tasks such as walking, climbing stairs, getting in and out of bed or chairs, and using mobility aids if applicable.
  5. Cognitive and Communication Assessment:
    Depending on your needs and circumstances, the assessment may also include an evaluation of cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, problem-solving, and communication skills.
  6. Environmental Assessment:
    The healthcare professional may assess your home environment or other relevant settings to identify any environmental barriers or modifications that may be necessary to support your independence and safety.
  7. Documentation and Recommendations:
    Following the assessment, the healthcare professional will typically document their findings and provide recommendations tailored to your NDIS needs and goals. These recommendations may include strategies for improving functional abilities, training on assistive devices or adaptive techniques, modifications to the environment, referrals to other healthcare professionals or community resources, and ongoing support or follow-up as needed.

Your therapist will provide you with a written report afterward.


What does an NDIS Functional Capacity Report include?

The FCA report includes a summary of recommendations tailored to individual needs.

Here are some key components that may be included in an FCA report for the NDIS:

  1. Background Information:
    The report may start with background information about the individual, including their personal details, medical history, diagnoses, and any relevant information about their disability or condition.
  2. Assessment Findings:
    The report will detail the findings from the assessment process. This may include observations, standardized assessment results, and information gathered through interviews or discussions with the individual and their caregivers or support network.
  3. Functional Capacity:
    The report will outline the individual's current level of functional capacity across various domains, such as activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), mobility, communication, cognitive abilities, social interaction, and behavior management.
  4. Support Needs:
    Based on the assessment findings, the report will identify the individual's specific support needs. This may include the type and level of assistance required to perform daily tasks, manage personal care, participate in community activities, and achieve their goals and aspirations.
  5. Goals and Aspirations:
    The report may include information about the individual's goals, aspirations, and desired outcomes. This could involve short-term and long-term goals related to independence, skill development, social participation, employment, education, or other areas of life.
  6. Recommendations:
    The FCA report will typically provide recommendations for supports and interventions to address the individual's needs and goals. These recommendations may include assistive technology, therapy services, specialized equipment, home modifications, access to community programs or services, and other forms of support.
  7. Evidence-Based Justification:
    The report will include evidence-based justification for the recommended supports and interventions, explaining how they align with the individual's assessed needs, goals, and best interests.
  8. Plan Implementation:
    The report may outline a proposed plan for implementing the recommended supports and interventions, including timelines, responsibilities, and steps for monitoring progress and adjusting the plan as needed.

The clinician/therapist will evaluate if each support is “Reasonable and Necessary” based on NDIS criteria.


Must the same therapist do the FCA and deliver therapy afterwards?

In some cases, the same therapist who conducts the Functional Capacity Assessment (FCA) may also provide therapy or intervention services afterward, but this is not always the case.

Ultimately, the decision about whether the same therapist delivers therapy after the FCA will depend on factors such as the individual's needs and preferences, therapist availability and expertise, organisational policies, and the coordination of care within the healthcare system.


Do I need a Functional Capacity Assessment to apply for the NDIS?

It is not a requirement to have an FCA for an NDIS application, but it does help if you need evidence to prove 'substantially reduced functional capacity' in one of your life areas: See our resource on Functional Capacity in the NDIS.

This resource addresses FCAs that are funded as part of your therapy funding requirement.


How do I find a therapist to complete an FCA?

The MyCareSpace Connections Team can help you find an Occupational Therapist or another therapist to complete a Functional Capacity Assessment

Find A Therapist




Our Connections Team at MyCareSpace are linked in with a range of providers offering telehealth services with availability. Let our team help you navigate the NDIS and find the right service for you.
Get started with Therapy



Let our Expert Team find you the right support worker: one that has experience with your disability and that you can rely on. It's FREE service.
Find me a support worker


Share this resource

How helpful was this resource?
How helpful was this resource?: 
MyCareSpace resources may be shared provided they are credited to MyCareSpace with backlinks to the original resource.