Hannah Spencer is an occupational therapist and NDIS Clinical Services Manager at IOH. She’s previously worked within both the acute neurological sector and Social Services in London and other sectors in Australia. She says she thoroughly enjoys working with clients within the NDIS, as it gives clinicians the opportunity to work with people in a personal and meaningful way. 

Understanding the process of finding what you need, and then getting it, can be quite frustrating in the world of the NDIS. Clients often say, “I know what I need, but I just don’t know how to get it.”

This process can be difficult to wrap your head around, whether you’re new to the NDIS or have been within the scheme from day 1.

Whether this be technology to help with personal care, transfers, accessing the community, or driving, there are certain processes involved.

Thanks to the NDIS, clients are now able to access many different types of equipment and therapy services, which can help them regain independence with tasks that are meaningful, pleasurable and vital to their everyday needs and lifestyles. This enables people to strive towards goals which are important to them, not the system.

The first step to finding the right assistive technology for you, is to undergo an assessment with an Occupational Therapist.

Occupational Therapists will assess your ability in everyday life, observe and consider options from a holistic perspective and use a range of different approaches, to assist you to meet your goals and increase your independence and quality of life.

Approaches used by an OT vary depending on the person. This may include an attempt to restore a person’s function and ability; making modifications to the environment; and/or compensatory approaches, which includes the use of assistive technology.

Following the assessment with your Occupational Therapist, he/she may trial a range of options with you. This can be done at your house, or at a local store.

A trial is useful as sometimes what we think may work in theory doesn’t always work in practice. A trial enables your OT and yourself to see if this option is the best choice.

Once you have both agreed on the equipment needed, your OT will need to do 1 of 2 things.

  1. If the items is costly and categorised as “high risk”, your OT will need to write a recommendation report to the NDIS, in order to request funding for the item. This is to make sure that this option is the best choice, reasonable and necessary.
  2. If the item is less costly and categorised as “low risk”, you may be able to order this equipment directly through the store itself. This does however, depend on the funding available within your plan.

The above may still sound confusing and you may still be left scratching your head.

Please know are not alone with this, confusion around this process is common. But, don’t give up! The NDIS is here to help us all and despite some processes seeming daunting, there are lots of people waiting to help you.

If you feel you may benefit from a particular piece of assistive technology, whether this be small (washing; dressing aids) or large (hoists, wheelchairs, driving/vehicle modifications) or, if you are not sure what you need, it would be beneficial to book an assessment with an Occupational Therapist.

Once you have done this, the process will start to make more sense. The key to this process is to go one step at a time, working with your therapy team and the NDIS, to get what you need and living your desired lifestyle.

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