Pieta from Hireup explores the many benefits to self managing your NDIS plan. For more from Hireup, click here.

“Too much work.”

“Too complicated.”

“You’d need the skills to run your own business.”

These are all comments I’ve heard about the prospect of self managing your own NDIS plan. While many people won’t have the ability, support or need to self manage, I believe that taking more control over the funding in your plan is the last puzzle piece in creating and forming your vision of a “good life”. Let’s be clear about what self management means. Every person should have as much say as possible to determine and manage the aspects of their supports they are able to. Self Management of your NDIS funding means that you also take responsibility for claiming and paying for your supports.

So, why on earth would you want to take on this extra work?

The main advantage is the ability to engage with businesses and service providers who are not registered with the NDIS. Registration is a daunting and expensive process that automatically precludes many smaller organisations and individuals from considering it. Removing this filter allows people to engage services from their local communities, find and work with the right person or organisation to assist them with a specific skill or goal and develop and craft the support they need. If you have funding to help support you in maintaining your home, what better way to do it than by employing the local gardening business? Many small organisations now offer “bespoke” supports tailored to an individual set of skills, interests or cultural needs.

Self Managed Participants and their Nominees also have more control around what budgets are spent on which supports. This allows them to maximise the use of all their funding, directing it towards their goals and expending their funding at the rate and level that suits them best. Assistance at home usually draws on Daily Living funding but learning a specific skill such as cooking might then become a capacity building support that includes activities such as attending a cooking class or having a program developed to help understand the steps to complete a recipe.

Of course, having this flexibility also brings added responsibility. As you seek out and engage supports from registered and mainstream businesses, the NDIS expects you to follow some common-sense guidelines. You must ensure that all the individuals and businesses you engage with have an ABN and the correct insurances in place and can provide the services you want to a suitable standard. Each of the supports you put in place must conform to the framework of “reasonable and necessary” under section 34 of the NDIS Act (2013).

Don’t be scared by this! I know we hear a lot about “reasonable and necessary” and sometimes it feels like it is waved around to frighten Participants and their families – but it is not! It’s just a guide to make sure all supports are working the best that they can to help people achieve their goals. Here are the Reasonable and Necessary guidelines, straight from the legislation, with a quick explanation.

What’s reasonable and necessary?

a) The support will assist the Participant to pursue the goals, objectives and aspirations included in the Participant’s statement of goals ​and aspirations;

There is a clear relationship between the support and the strategies being undertaken to assist the Participant work towards the goals in their NDIS Plan.

b) The support will assist the Participant to undertake activities so as to facilitate the Participant’s social and economic participation;

The support helps the person become more connected or involved in their community – relative to the person’s individual situation and support needs.

c) The support represents value for money in that the costs of the support are reasonable, relative to both the benefits achieved and the cost of alternative support;

It is OK for self managing Participants and their Nominees to use supports that cost more than those stated in the NDIS Price Guide but there should be clear evidence that the outcomes from these supports are greater than those of less cost.

d) The support will be, or is likely to be, effective and beneficial for the Participant, having regard to current good practice;

When engaging any supports, particularly therapeutic supports, these shall be based in approaches that have an established best practice and accepted expectation for outcomes by the NDIS.

e) The funding or provision of the support takes account of what it is reasonable to expect families, carers, informal networks and the community to provide;

The support will not replace or replicate a support that should be provided by another area of the community e.g.; not replace a teaching support that should be provided by the Education Department or a support or activity that we would expect the person’s family to undertake, depending on their age and individual needs. For example, it’s OK for a parent to help a 6 year old to brush their teeth, but we would not expect this for a 25 year old.

There you go – you’ve just read and considered the Reasonable and Necessary framework from section 34 of the NDIS Act (2013). Actually makes sense, doesn’t it?

OK, it sounds great, but just how much work is it?

If you can check your bank accounts, review invoices and pay bills online, you can self manage your NDIS funds. You will need to access your My Place portal on a regular basis to claim invoices and see real time balances for your funding. As you connect with service providers you will let them know you are self managing and negotiate invoices for their services to make sure you can claim and receive payments from the NDIA.

If you have a lot of supports in place, yes, this could be a huge undertaking each week but don’t forget that you can opt to self manage just a portion of your plan. Your in-home support may be Agency managed but you might choose to self manage one of the Capacity Building budgets to give you more flexibility and choice. Picking one area of your plan to self manage is also a good way to build your confidence.

You can get help developing the skills for self management from a Support Coordinator, Mentor or using funding in your Core budget for “Self management capacity building”. This support is also available to people who are currently Agency managed and want to start learning the skills they need to one day self manage one of their budgets.

When can I move to self management?

Moving to self management usually happens at your annual review where you need to let the Local Area Coordinator or NDIA Planner know what parts of your plan you want to self manage and why. They will ask you if you have ever been bankrupt and then your request will be considered by the NDIA.

Is it really worth all this hassle?

Yes. Think of the most amazing success story you have heard around NDIS supports; they are probably self managing. Look at the NDIS website videos, read the stories online of people doing really innovative things with their funding – most of them are self managing to get these outcomes. It’s not just me who thinks this added control and flexibility is important.

“The self management of NDIS funds by Participants does, and can, have significant value in achieving the objective of the Scheme beyond a rights based perspective.”

– National Disability Insurance Agency Annual Report 2016-2017

While the uptake of Self Management has been slower than expected in most areas, even the NDIS acknowledges that it is important in the success of individual plans. While it requires some extra effort, Self Management is essential to fulfilling the potential impact of the NDIS and is the last piece in the puzzle as we build more inclusive communities.

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