National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
The NDIS is providing assistance to many people with physical challenges who were previously unable to access the independence and freedom of driving or being a passenger in their own vehicle. As an NDIS Provider with over 20 years’ experience in vehicle modification, PME have got a few tips to help you make the most of it.
Reach your goals, aspirations and objectives
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is being deployed and managed across Australia, by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). The aim of the NDIA and NDIS is to provide people with a disability access to and control of funding for supports that assist in managing the challenges their disability presents, allowing them to reach their goals, aspirations and objectives, focusing on:
- Increasing independence
- Increasing social and economic participation
- Developing your capacity to actively take part in the community
You will first have to confirm that you are eligible according to the Access Requirements. Once you have confirmed this you can contact the NDIA to start the planning and assessment process. This will include an NDIS Planning Meeting, typically conducted on the phone, where a plan will be developed which will set out in detail the supports you will need, who will be providing those supports, and the budget provided.
There’s quite a lot to think about! We have some tips to help you prepare for the NDIS and your Planning Meeting in regards to vehicle modification and driving aids. These may also help you with other support categories.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
We can't say it enough. Know what support you need before you attend your planning meeting.
The My NDIS Pathway guide includes a checklist to help you to identify your needs, goals and current supports. This information is then taken into account in your planning meeting with the NDIS, but it doesn't cover everything.
There are 3 Support Categories containing 15 Support Sub-Categories in your NDIS plan to cover everything you might need for the next 12 months. Go through each of them before your meeting. Vehicle modifications are included in category 2.05 “Assistive technology”. This covers vehicle access, travelling safely as a disabled passenger, and/or being a disabled driver. It may also be possible to cover costs of a rental adapted vehicle for holidays or for use while your personal vehicle is being modified or serviced.
The NDIA have a price guide for Assistive Technology however this pricing may not accurately reflect the true cost. The NDIA have done a lot of research however the descriptions are quite broad and there are a variety of possibilities. The price and configuration of any modification will be dependent upon your needs and preferences, the vehicle chosen, and the modifier.
For example; Electronic vs. mechanical for driving controls, or lowered floors side entry upfront passengers vs. rear hoists entry rear passenger for passenger access, or drive from wheelchair vs. transfer to driver’s seat for driver access. All of these suit different people and have different costs depending on the vehicle and configuration to start.
For this reason our NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDATION is that you speak to us as well as your Occupational Therapist and Driving Instructor before you have your planning session so that you can budget correctly.
If you forget to put something in your initial plan or if your support needs change, you will have an opportunity to revise your plan every 12 months. You can request a review before this time but typically your funding will be frozen until this review is complete. Some of our customers have under-budgeted for vehicle modifications during NDIS planning and requested to re-assess their plans. However during the review they did not have access to funds for immediate needs such as carers. This can be a tough situation!
You don't need to do it alone
You are allowed to have a support person such as a family member or occupational therapist with you during NDIA appointments and we fully recommend that you do. Your support person may think of something you missed. If you are not confident discussing your needs on the phone or have difficulty using a phone, the NDIS can make alternative arrangements. This may also help your support person work with you during your Planning Meeting.
Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) has some great information about the NDIS on their website that you may find useful. They also provide pre-planning sessions to help their members prepare for planning meetings. SCIA invites members and people living with spinal cord injury or other physical disabilities to call on 1800 819 775 to guide you through the process.
SCIA can help you:
- Understand the NDIS and how it works
- Learn when the NDIS rollout will impact you
- Learn how to access the NDIS
- Identify goals and aspirations you have that the NDIS may fund
- Navigate the pre-planning, planning and management of your NDIS plan.
Know what you want
You have choice of supplier and are not required to select a vehicle modifier from within your area. Like in any industry, products and services can vary between suppliers. A quote from another supplier may not line up with a PME quote, and the same goes for the products and quality of workmanship. So to prevent you being out of pocket or disappointed with the results, make sure that you get a quote from your preferred supplier for your planning meeting and arrange to send your vehicle to them for the modification.
Unfortunately not everyone can perform the full range of modifications that we do here at PME. It is not uncommon for a customer or the NDIA to be told that the proposed modification is not possible. With more than 20 years experience in the industry, we know our stuff! Don't let them talk you into a modification and outcome that is less than ideal.
You may find the below links useful:
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS): https://www.ndis.gov.au/participants/planning-process.html
Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA): https://scia.org.au/ndis