TIPS for NDIS pre-planning, plan meetings & reviews
Parents and carers are responsible to prepare for their child’s NDIS planning meeting. This involves thinking about goals and supports, organising reports and attending the meeting as champions for their child. At times, parents may also need to advocate in reviews to get the necessary supports.
We asked families to share their top tips for pre-planning, preparing for the meeting and review.
Get as much information and data as you can to take in to your planning meeting, talk to as many people as you can and ask as many questions as you beforehand. For example, understand the type of services and programs you can ask for, know what areas your child needs support in. Support pages on Facebook and other families are a great place to get information.
Wording of the goals
Don’t get too tied up in the actual wording of goals. Better to spend your time making notes around the different developmental areas, like communication, physical development, self care, etc, because it is easy to miss something in the meeting, and you don’t want to do that.
Think about goals ahead of time
Think about and write your goals down ahead of time. Don’t worry too much about the wording of the goals. They should morph through the planning meeting based on the conversation and reports provided. It’s great to go prepared with goals but be prepared to be flexible. Sometimes things come out of the planning discussion that add a new element to your goals. Ask around to find out what supports and strategies are families are using as often we can have similar goals for our children.
Reports to support funding requests
It is important to have reports and/or quotes from specialists that support your goals or request for equipment or resources. The reports provide a justification as to why it is needed and how it will help your child meet their goal.
Get reports done early
It is important to allow enough time to get reports from therapists and other specialists. Make sure your team know when your plan ends and when your next planning meeting is scheduled. Reports need to include progress made, so this gives you an opportunity to think about achievements during the year. Getting reports done early also gives you time to check them over and make sure all the information is correct and if any points are missing. You can totally go back to therapists and ask for changes or corrections if they are needed.
Low risk assistive technology
You can request funding to purchase simple, low risk products that are easy to buy and need no or very little assistance to set up and use. These could include sensory items, bath mats, apps. An assessment or report isn’t needed for these items, but you may be asked to provide a justification so it is helpful to think ahead of time what resources would help your child to achieve their goals and how it would help.
Self, plan or agency managed
You need to let the planner know in the meeting if you will be self, plan or agency managed. This is an important decision as it determines the flexibility you will have with your child’s plan. Do your research ahead of time. There are lots of great resources on the NDIS website that explain the different management options. Also ask around in your networks.
Don’t go alone
Take someone along with you, whether it is a family member, friend, or someone who knows your child. Before the meeting, decide on what their role is in the meeting and how they can support you. These meetings can be long and emotionally draining. It’s helpful to have someone else to debrief with afterwards.
Progress vs ongoing needs
Think about progress made vs ongoing needs. This can feel like ‘walking a tightrope’. You will need to document progress made over the year towards each goal in the plan. Then you need to think about where your child is at now, and what skills they still need to develop. It can help to look at their peers and what they are doing now, to identify areas of need.
Prepare for after the planning meeting
Have a plan for yourself following the planning process. As a parent or carer, it can be hard focusing on the negatives or ‘skill deficits’ of your child! Think about how you are advocating for your child, rather than focusing on the negatives. After the process, make space for yourself to ‘recover’ and shift your thinking back to how amazing your child is, the progress they have made, and their strengths. It may be catching up with a friend for a coffee and debrief.
Your child doesn’t need to attend
Some planners say your child must be attend the meeting. This is not true. It is the parents’ choice. Some families choose not to bring their child as the discussion tends to focus on the deficits and parents prefer not to speak about their child in that way in front of them. Stretching your budget
Prepare questions ahead of time
It can be easy in the meeting to forget important questions you want to ask. Write them all down beforehand. These questions may include how long after the meeting will i receive the plan or when will you submit the paperwork in case i need to make changes or send extra reports.
Prepare a carers impact statement
This statement provides the NDIA planner with a holistic view into your child’s disability and what it means for their everyday life and for your family. It’s an opportunity to share information that isn’t always captured in the goals, and areas of development. It may be around the impact on the family, sibling relationships, or financial hardships.
It is also great to put your argument forward for funding needs. And an opportunity to thank the NDIA for the support their child received over the past 12 months. The NDIS planner is collecting the information and making recommendations to the NDIA planners, who are the decision maker that we don’t meet, but make the plan funding decision at the end of the day. Carers statement is also a way of that decision maker hearing your voice.
A nod to the NDIS outcomes
When thinking about goals, and communicating with the NDIA planners in a Carers Statement, it can help pack a punch if you can show how you and your child are working towards outcomes like becoming more independent, creating friendships, improving skills, strengthening family relationships, and working towards an inclusive ‘ordinary’ life.
If you aren’t happy with your child’s plan, you have around 3 months to ask for a review. A few things to think about: start using and spending the plan. When review is finalised a whole new plan and budget will be created. There is no reason to not start spending.
If you are under ECEI, contact your NDIS person (the one you did the meeting with) and ask them to lodge a review. It is simple to do. You will then be contacted by an NDIA representative to discuss your child’s needs and what you need, that wasn’t addressed adequately in the plan. This is where good reports are important. If they clearly state recommendations for therapy and equipment that wasn’t included, make a point of highlighting these shortcomings.
Follow up with your planner
Follow up with your planner post planning meeting. This is especially important if you ran out of time or raced through some points near the end. Also, if you haven’t seen the final goal wording, definitely ask to see (and make changes if needed) before they are submitted.
Reach out to your NDIA planner
Sometimes it’s hard to access the full plan in the portal. The planner can email a copy to you so you don’t have to wait for the postman. You can also ask them about specific information that has been sent to them from the NDIA which may include specific information on how a decision was made or why something wasn’t funded. If there is any detailed correspondence, ask the planner to email you a copy for your information and records.
Rethink agency management
Some families chose this option in the beginning as they didn’t feel confident when there were so many unknowns, and that is totally reasonable. But if you feel like you have more knowledge and understanding of the system, you may choose to change to Plan Managed (great if you feel you still want some support) or Self Managed. It seems less therapists are registering as ‘NDIA providers’ and some who have previously registered, are now letting that lapse. There is time and money involved in being registered.
Why is that important, you ask? If you are Agency Managed, you can ONLY use registered providers. Sometimes it’s going to mean you can’t use a therapist you want. It also means you can’t buy your child’s nappies at the supermarket. And you have less flexibility, choice and control that you would like.
Find out what the planner submitted
Ask the planner what they have recommended to the NDIA, and if there is something you asked for that they haven’t included. This is important. If they have made a call on whether something is reasonable and necessary, and it’s important to you, you will want to know and have an opportunity to advocate for what you want.
If you get to the point where the planner disagrees with you, ask them to document that you disagree with their decision. This information will then go to the decision maker in NDIA.
Do you have a tip to share?
Let us know here: https://bit.ly/rdndistools