As the year comes to an end, people often pause to reflect and begin to plan for the new year ahead.
Many of us have experienced significant changes to our daily lives over the past twelve months. COVID-19 presented each of us with challenges to overcome but it also provided new opportunities to explore.
In response to the pandemic the NDIS introduced a number of temporary measures to ensure continuity of support for participants and limit the spread of coronavirus in our communities.
The NDIS also implemented several permanent changes in order to support a better life for Australians with a disability, their families and carers.
It can be difficult to keep up to date with all the changes as they happen throughout the year. So today, we look at some of the key NDIS changes from 2020 to make sure you are up to date with all the latest information.
The response to COVID-19.
A top priority for the NDIS was to ensure Australians with a disability could continue to receive the supports needed while staying safe. Important measures included:
- Shifting to telephone based NDIS Plan and Plan Review meetings
- Creating a process for checking on vulnerable people
- Ability to use Core support budgets temporarily
- Extending some plans up to 24 months automatically
- Working with supermarkets to give NDIS participants access to priority delivery
- Monitoring and addressing service gaps.
As COVID-19 cases drop and community restrictions ease, some of the temporary measures introduced by the NDIS during the pandemic are ending. These include:
- Removal of temporary 10% price loading on certain Core and Capacity Building supports
- Cancellation period reduced from 10 days to levels under the previous policy
- Medium Term Accommodation (MTA) period returned to the original policy of 90 days (rolled back from 180 days).
The following temporary measures will be extended until February 2021:
- Eligible NDIS participants can use plan funding to purchase low-cost assistive technology
- Greater plan flexibility to ensure access to supports (less than $1500)
- Deep cleaning service where a participant or support worker returns a positive COVID-19 test
- A clinical-first response for any identified outbreak, if required.
The NDIS is now available to all Australians.
One of the major milestones in 2020 was the completion of the staged national roll-out with the inclusion of Christmas Island and Cocos Island earlier this year.
A better experience for participants.
New initiatives were introduced to improve the NDIS experience for participants.
The NDIS introduced a participant service charter that outlines what you can expect when dealing with them.
- The NDIS completed the national roll-out of a quality and safeguards system to ensure strong and consistent protection for every participant
- The NDIS Commissioner now has additional powers to prevent people who may pose a risk of harm to participants from entering or re-entering the NDIS.
Improving the way supports are requested and delivered.
A number of new processes and guidelines were introduced to simplify the way you or someone who cares for you can request and access supports:
- The NDIS Functional Capacity Assessment Framework was released to improve the quality and consistency of plans
- A Joint Planning process was launched to help developing draft versions of NDIS Plans with an NDIA Planner and Local Area Coordinator to before a final plan is approved
- New operational guidelines for Supported Independent Living (SIL), Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) and Medium Term Accommodation (MTA)
- Update to operational guidelines to include information about assistance animals
- Access Request and Supporting Evidence Forms are now available to download from the NDIS website.
Removing the gap between plans.
To ensure that participants aren’t caught without the right supports while they transition to a new plan, the NDIS introduced new processes:
- Unclaimed funds within previous plans and service bookings remain available for 90 days after a new plan has been approved
- Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) and Supported Independent Living (SIL) supports will have additional funding where a 28-day extension has been applied to a plan.
An important part of accessing the right supports is ensuring that you, and the people who support you, can safely and securely access your information. To improve connectivity, the NDIS introduced the following measures:
- Your GP can now use new resources to help collect the right information on your behalf when they are supporting you to access the NDIS
- Live webchat is now available as an alternative to calling the NDIS.
The NDIS implemented a new employment support system to empower people with a disability to find meaningful employment and build career pathways. Some of the benefits participants can take advantage of are:
- Supports are accessible in a wider range of workplaces
- Supports for employment related assessment and counselling
- School leaver employment supports (SLES)
- Specialised supported employment – participants who are employed and who are less independent in performing their work tasks.
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