Updated: Apr 20
It’s probably safe to say that no one loves assessments. But sometimes they can be incredibly beneficial. In the case of OT Functional Assessments, they can provide crucial information regarding your support and funding needs to the NDIA.
What is an OT Functional Assessment?
An Occupational Therapy (OT) Functional Assessment is all about helping you achieve your goals. The assessment works to determine your current level of functioning, what your strengths and weaknesses may be, how you manage on a day-to-day basis and to identify any challenges or gaps that may need to be addressed. It can provide recommendations of the supports and services you may need, not only with an OT but also in other areas like speech pathology or psychology.
Following the functional assessment, your Occupational Therapist (OT) can make recommendations to increase your independence through therapy goals like developing or enhancing skills, assistive technology or environmental changes, and working towards goals including social and community participation.
What do OT Functional Assessments involve?
Depending on the complexity of your situation and the number of hours included in your NDIS Plan, OT Functional Assessments may be completed across more than one session. They can be done at home, in a clinic, another environment within the community, by phone or via video chat. The OT doing the assessment will take into consideration your age, disability and any other important factors.
The OT will explore your:
Management of daily tasks (showering, dressing, toileting, personal hygiene, sleep, nutrition etc.) and if there are any challenges that may be impacting your ability to complete these tasks
Home management skills (meal preparation, shopping, cleaning, laundry, household budgets and bills etc.) and any challenges within your current living situation and supports
Community management abilities (accessing shops, banks, attending medical or health related appointments etc.) and how you manage this with driving, public transport or supported transport access
Work and study abilities and whether there are any challenges you experience or short- or long-term goals you would like to set
Recreational and social engagement skills (exercise, craft, art, music etc.) and how your ability to engage may be impacted, as well as whether you want to engage and your confidence in engaging socially in the community
Once your OT has discussed your current situation with you and identified any areas that may be challenging, your OT may ask to observe you completing certain tasks to help them make the right recommendations for you.
When the assessment process is completed, you OT will finalise the Functional Assessment report with a summary of your current functional abilities and recommendations for ongoing support, therapy or Assistive Technology (AT) that may increase your independence and help you to achieve your goals. The OT Functional Assessment will be shared with the NDIA for consideration of ongoing NDIS support funding at your Plan Review Meeting.
When to get an OT Functional Assessment
Having an OT Functional Assessment can be the key to securing the funding you need to live your life and achieve your goals successfully. But when should you have the assessment? You can have an OT Functional Assessment done before your initial NDIS Planning Meeting as a new NDIS Participant, or after you have already received your NDIS Plan.
If you do opt to have an OT Functional Assessment before your initial Planning Meeting, it’s important to know that while the assessment can help you secure the funding you may need, it can also be pricey. If you don’t have the financial capacity for an OT Functional Assessment, it’s important to assess all aspects of your life, your capacity and to define your goals in preparation for your Planning Meeting.
For example, if your goal is to live independently, you may need help with cleaning, meal preparation, getting in and out of bed, and doing the laundry etc. Be sure to clearly outline your capacity to your NDIA Planner or Local Area Coordinator (LAC) so that your NDIS Plan can reflect your support needs.
Remember to bring any supporting documents or reports from your current Support Providers to your Planning Meeting. You can also request to have funding for an OT Functional Assessment included in your NDIS Plan during that initial Planning Meeting.
If you opt to have an OT Functional Assessment after your initial Planning Meeting has taken place (or after your Plan Review if this is not your first NDIS Plan), the assessment can be used at your next Plan Review Meeting to show your NDIA Planner or LAC the ongoing support you need for your next NDIS Plan.
In some circumstances, it may occur that you haven’t received the funding support you need in NDIS Plan. If this is the case, having an OT Functional Assessment can be used as evidence to support your next NDIS Plan. However, if there is a significant difference in your current NDIS Plan funding and the funding support you actually need to achieve your goals, you can request an early review of your NDIS Plan.
Ultimately, having an OT Functional Assessment can be a really important tool for you and for the NDIA, to ensure that you receive that support you need to achieve your goals.
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