If you wish to apply for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding support, then you will need to work with a government approved care planner (also called a NDIS local area co-coordinator).
Some planners are employed by the government Agency that controls the NDIS, but most are employed by community organisations who receive government funding to undertake care planning. By employing community organisations to undertake care planning, the government hopes to tap into the local knowledge of those services.
Ask about Conflicts of Interest
Despite the government’s good intentions, having government funded planners also increases the potential for conflicts of interest by those care planners – how can you be absolutely sure that your care planner is only acting in your best interests and providing you with independent and impartial advice? What prevents them from recommending and referring you to an organisation they have a professional relationship with, instead of the one that will provide you with the best service?
It is important you ask your appointed care planner what professional relationships they have with the organisations they refer you to, and what steps they are taking to ensure their independence.
What the care planner must be told
During the meetings with your care planner, you need to ensure they fully understand:
- your current social and employment situation,
- your close personal relationships, including paid and volunteer carer relationships,
- your physical and mental health strengths and limitations,
- what your life goals are and how you think you may reach those goals,
- What are the gaps in services and supports you currently experience that prevent you from achieving those life goals,
- What challenges do you face in accessing those needed services and supports, and
- What equipment, technological and mechanical aids and other items will assist you in achieving your goals.
Without this essential information, your care plan may not be as comprehensive as it could be. Having a very comprehensive care plan will help maximise the government funding you are entitled to receive.
Seek Independent Advice & Support
While meeting with an NDIS care planner is necessary to develop your personalised care plan, if the care planner alone is left to assess your needs, they may not fully appreciate your current situation and future needs and hopes.
Take with you to meetings a trusted family member, friend or independent advocate who has an understanding of the impact your disability has on your day-to-day activities. They can help you provide the fullest information possible to ensure your care plan maximises your service opportunities and potential funding.