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The pros and cons of self-managing your NDIS plan (Part 2)

Updated: May 15, 2019

The challenges you might face when self-managing your NDIS plan

The core premise of the NDIS is giving people with a disability the same rights to having choice and control over their lives as anyone else. And self-managing your NDIS plan gives you complete control over your support. In this post, we’ll explore the main challenges that can arise when choosing to self-manage – but if you want to know a little more about what it is, you can also read the first part in this blog series on the pros and cons of self-managing your NDIS plan.

As I did in the last post, I’ll share some information from three people who have experience with support, and who are entering the pre-planning stages or supporting those who are.

The pros and cons of self managing your NDIS plan: The cons

Self-managing or directing isn’t for everyone. And that’s okay. Choosing to self-manage means taking on the role of financial manager, support advocate and director. So, what are the challenges you might face?

1. You’re responsible for providing the NDIA all the financial records, and evidence of support for your plan review

This can feel like a big responsibility. You may not have had experience with record-keeping and financial management. How do you know what to keep, and what if you spend too much? The good news is, it’s fairly simple. You need to keep invoices from all the services you engage and ask for receipts for payment of those invoices. But there are tools out there to help you keep track of your spending – and to help you track your goals.

You can keep track of your budget within First 2 Care by entering in all of your funding, and applying the amount to each Support Category – such as transport. You can make a checklist of all the items you need and connect with providers who offer those services in your local area.

You can enter any Service Agreements you make with providers into the app and then First 2 Care will alert you if you input something that will exceed your budget for that item.

The NDIS also recommends that you open a separate bank account for each NDIS plan you are managing – as parents may have more than one plan for multiple children entering the scheme. This will help you keep all your transactions separate and make it easier to provide spending records linked to your plan.

You should also be aware that your support fund needs to be spent on ‘reasonable and necessary’ items, that represent value for money, and that go towards achieving your NDIS goals.

To check that your spending meets these guidelines, you can refer to the NDIS info on that here >> What are reasonable and necessary supports?

Or read through our recent post on everything you need to get started.

2. You’re responsible for managing your team of supports and resolving any issues yourself

Being able to manage your support staff well means you need to be able to tell them what you need clearly, and have the means to keep them informed if circumstances change. It means you’ll be responsible for resolving any disputes yourself, particularly if you have hired your support directly.

If you are working with support staff supplied by a provider, then you will need to be able to engage the provider in a conversation about any issues that arise with your staff – and be prepared to stand up for yourself and advocate for your rights.

This can be a new challenge for participants, but one worth exploring, to get true, tailored support, that suits you and your circumstances best. If you have existing staff that you enjoy working with, and who understand your needs, it might be good to have a conversation with them about how you’re feeling about self-managing your NDIS supports. They may even be able to help you navigate this until you get used to it and can pick up some more skills.

“I think the most important trait to have or learn will be how to manage people,” Mark, a 35-year-old man with dwarfism, told me. “You need to have good communication and open dialogue with the people helping you live your life… One of the big changes will be the relationships between participants and service providers. My plan will be to self-direct my NDIS funding eventually, but at first, I may seek help from an experienced support worker who has dealt with managing others. I have partially managed some aspects of another program that I use now, and I hope that whatever skills I have learnt with that can transfer and apply over in the NDIS system.”

These skills might require some training, and if you’re interested in this approach it’s worth having a conversation about it with your pre-planner to see what support can be offered here under the Capacity Building Support Budget.

Geoffrey Cooper, a man who lost 90% of his sight fifteen years go told me, “If I decide to apply for the NDIS, I’d feel more confident using tools like First 2 Care because it gives me an ordered place to store a lot of information. And I’ll be able to share this information easily with others who I choose to include in my journey.”

Geoff has been helping Mark set up First 2 Care to begin his self-management journey.  First 2 Care was designed to nurture relationships between participants and support staff by actively involving them in the support journey. By inviting people to connect with you inside the app, you can seek help with pre-planning and management of your plan, which can help with communicating your needs, and updating them on changes of circumstances.

As part of these obligations, there is also the added responsibilities of knowing what legal obligations you have towards your staff. Like Workplace, Health and Safety obligations and public liability insurance, what super might be payable etc. These things might be overwhelming, but getting a professional accountant to help can alleviate some of the stresses here too. Have a conversation with an accountant about your needs, and then make sure you include this, with any quotes you’ve got from them in your pre-plan template within First 2 Care.

With help, you can see that the pros begin to outweigh the cons of self-managing your NDIS Plan.

3. It’s up to you to find your support staff and hire them, then manage rosters

Finding support staff can be tricky. Employment sites like Seek and Career One tend to favour businesses advertising for work, and as we’ve found out, sites like Gumtree can yield poor quality results. Finding the right support staff for you is about knowing where to look, and how to engage them. That’s why First 2 Care have built a support worker and provider database to connect you with the services you need, without the hassles of searching through multiple online search engines and databases.

You’ll be able to search, shortlist, select – then schedule their shifts all within the app. Simple.

Never interviewed and hired someone before? First 2 Care have values-based criteria, in addition to qualifications and location, to help you determine who is a good fit for you. If you’re unsure and would like further guidance on hiring your own support, enquire about Capacity Building Supports that can help you do this.

You may need an advocate to help you negotiate prices and service agreements with providers.

4. You’re responsible for identifying when things aren’t going well and advocating for your rights

Mediation between you and your support staff can be tricky. Ultimately, if things aren’t going to plan and the relationship between you and your support staff has meant that the quality of the support has deteriorated, it’s up to you to make the decision to let them go.

You should not feel bad about this decision.

But you also don’t want to leave yourself short of support. The best way to get around this is to hire a team of pre-approved support staff that you’re happy to have on-call if this situation, or an emergency comes up and you need to replace a shift quickly.

The First 2 Care scheduling system allows you to advertise a last-minute position to this pre-approved team so they can fill the shift for you. There’s no need to ring each staff member individually to try and fill a shift – the app has automated the process for you. #nosweat

Ultimately, self-managing your NDIS plan is your choice. But with tools like First 2 Care, you’ve got the power to do it all within your hands.

Geoff agrees. “[Self-managing my plan means] there’s a greater opportunity of not being swept up in a continuation of old cultures. Those that group people with a disability for activities, simply because it’s more economical.”

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Over to you

We hope you feel a little more prepared after this series on the pros and cons of self-managing your NDIS Plan and we’d love to know more about you and challenges you’ve faced. Let us know in the comments.

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