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NDIS goals: Why are they a big deal?

Why a goals-focused NDIS plan is the most effective

If you’ve been hanging around in any of the online NDIS support groups, you’ll have heard some of the barriers and problems people have been experiencing with the NDIS as it is rolling out.

It’s hard not to lose hope, and faith in the system when you start hearing about the interruptions to care other people are experiencing. For some, it might feel like you are hitting your head up against a wall over and over again, just as they say in this song.

As my family and I begin planning and thinking about NDIS goals for my autistic brother, we are mindful of the support he needs to continue to live independently as a happy and fulfilled adult.

So we know we need to learn from everyone’s experiences and get as prepared as we can. This way, his first (and second) Plan will work in his favour, to help him achieve his NDIS goals and maintain his quality of life.

This goal planning process will help you do that.

1. Do your research and learn from other peoples’ experiences

As I mentioned in my previous post there are plenty of local NDIS information events and online support forums for you to join and learn from. But it’s important not to focus too much on the negatives. This is a great place to see what went wrong and then use this information for your benefit. For example:

Have others had problems with communication? Learn which questions to ask to avoid the same pitfalls.

Have others had problems with managing their first NDIS plan? Make sure you understand your options for plan management before you enter the NDIS.

Did they get stuck in the little details and forget about their bigger goals? Talk to family, friends, and carers to get feedback on your goals within your NDIS Plan.

Do your research and learn from other people’s mistakes, from the issues they’ve had with providers and planners and make sure you know what questions to ask.

2. Start the conversation about your NDIS goals early, and involve everyone

Being prepared is the best way to attack the goal planning process. And this means covering all possible bases. Because you are at the centre of your NDIS Plan you might not realise when you’ve missed out important details.

Once you’ve written down everything you can think of, it’s time to ask your family, friends and other existing support people for their input. You can use planning tools like the First2Care app to collaborate with others and help prompt you and make sure you haven’t missed anything out.

3. Focus on bigger NDIS goals and as well as the little details

For your first NDIS Plan to be personally effective, you need to understand that the focus should be on the bigger picture.

How many times have you had to tell a new Provider or Support Worker every little detail of your life? It is often a humiliating process to have to go through and prevents you from focussing on the things that are more emotionally and mentally rewarding. Yes, they are an important part of your first NDIS Support Plan, but it’s equally as important to remember to focus on what makes you just like every other member of the community – your dreams and aspirations.

This is really important because the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has said that a “Participant’s Plan must include a statement of goals and aspirations.” You don’t have to provide a written statement, but if you give a verbal one, your NDIA Planner should confirm this statement with you before you submit your Plan.

Don’t let them submit your plan without confirming your NDIS Goal’s Statement! And if you have - you can always follow up with them afterwards to confirm they have it right. Keep in touch with your planner!

As I mentioned, there is no limit to the number of goals you can include in your first NDIS Plan, so it’s time to infuse your plan with colour!

What is the best way to include all your goals in your plan?

4. Adopt a ‘strength-based approach’ when identifying your goals

The NDIS takes a lifetime approach, investing in people with a disability so they can improve their outcomes later in life. The ‘strength based approach’ helps you identify your potential, and then work out how to pursue it.

In other words, you should be looking at areas in your life where you might be lacking, and turn them into a positive goal. To do this, you need to:

Review your life in terms of potential: Do you have some skills but need support to develop them? Or is there something missing from your life, but you need help to obtain it?

Ask yourself how you can achieve your goals and potential: What types of support do you need? What is stopping the missing things from happening?

Assess how your current situation affects this outcome: How does your living arrangements, your informal support and other community support influence the outcomes? How does your social and economic participation affect your ability to achieve your goals?

This example might help.

Jess (a fictional 25-year-old woman), acquired a spinal injury in a car accident two years ago and now uses a wheelchair to maintain her independence. She is given a lot of informal support from family within the home, and some paid community support by a local Service Provider. Jess feels like a burden on her family because her formal support is inadequate.

Jess is a passionate advocate for other people with a similar disability and wants to make a difference in their lives. One of her dreams is to complete a Journalism and Communications Degree in order to continue to be the voice for others like her.

She feels she is capable of completing this task but has identified that her disability impedes her ability to:

a) Afford a university degree due to limitations in employment opportunities and therefore earning potential

b) Travel to university, and move around the campus because of her reliance on a wheelchair, and transport that can carry it to and from the campus

c) Jess is also aware that her reliance on informal care from her parents, and formal support from her Service Provider means that she can’t be as flexible in her approach to her learning as she’d like to be

Jess identified that her big goal was to complete her degree and source meaningful employment as a Disability Advocate. But to do this, she understands that she needs help with smaller goals first (reliable in home support to help her live more independently, access to adequate transport and campus facilities etc). Only then can Jess begin to put things in order and achieve her dreams and live a happy and fulfilled life.

In her first NDIS Plan, Jess’s ‘Goal Statement’ might be:

“I want to live my life with maximum independence and the freedom to go where I can, to achieve what I want with my life while developing my skills to help people. To do this I need reliable in-home support, flexible transport arrangements and assistance with employment.”

Have you identified what NDIS goals you want to achieve? It’s time to start thinking about yours.

5. Planning for your child’s goals

The goal planning process for your child is done in the same way and you start by taking into account:

a) How your family takes care of your child right now

b) How carers assist your child or is needed to assist them

c) Who the important people in their life are

d) Your child’s living arrangements

e) Their regular activities and social participation

f) Your child’s education

g) What’s working well in their life and what isn’t

h) What things they are good at and enjoy

i) What skills they’d like to build upon, and what they will need as they grow

These will form the basis of how you structure support to achieve your child’s goals and objectives.

These objectives will be influenced by:

1. What your child wants their life to look like now, and in a year or two

2. What your child, you, your family and friends can do to help them achieve their goals

3. What supports your child has to help them (from informal care arrangements to mainstream, community and disability supports)

4. What is hindering their ability to achieve their goals

By using a ‘strength-based approach’ to inform your child’s NDIS goals, you will be able to identify their ‘Goals and Aspirations Statement’ that informs their Plan.

Read more here about your child and the NDIS.

6. Ask for a personalised report from your current Support Providers

You can strengthen your ability to advocate for the funding you need by approaching your Providers and current medical professionals to provide an outcomes report for you. Ideally, this report should be:

a) Goals and outcomes focussed – written in terms of what support you require to meet your goals. There are no limits as to the number of goals you can include in your first NDIS Plan.

b) Written using NDIS terms, support categories, and lingo – download or ask for a copy of the NDIS Price Guide, read, understand and save this document for easy reference. It will help you understand the different categories of supports you can seek funding - Core, Capital or Capacity Building Supports.

c) Demonstrate that they have listened to you – and strengthen your pre-plan document by providing further evidence of the information you’ve already collected and written down.

d) Get straight to the point – with the recommendations without any padding. Less time spent on preparing these reports will mean more time for real support.

A good Provider report will help your Planner to interpret exactly what you need and build a strong case without any misunderstandings. You want to make their job as easy as possible because they have a huge pile of other plans to advocate for as well.

7. Choose the best option for you when meeting with the NDIS Planner

When it’s time to meet with your NDIS Planner or Local Area Coordinator (LAC) , you have the choice to meet face-to-face or via phone.

Everyone’s strengths are different and if you feel you can advocate for the best outcome via phone, you should choose this option. Remember, you can choose to bring an existing carer, support worker or provider with you for help you need it.

You might find the best chance at stating your case might be to attend in person so the NDIA can see with their own eyes what kinds of support you require and they can turn your support needs into positive NDIS goals to include in your Plan.

Understanding how to structure your support plan to focus your NDIS goals will improve your Plan’s outcomes. Just by using tools like First2Care, and following these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to getting the support you need to live a happy and fulfilled life, your way.

Read more about the benefits of working with a Plan Manager. Alternatively, register with our FREE NDIS Plan Management platform, so we can start helping you best manage your plan today.

Read more about First2Care’s plan management features.

Over to you

What do you think your biggest hurdle is going to be to achieve your NDIS goals? We’d love to hear about it. And, if you liked this article please share and comment below.