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The pros and cons of self-managing your NDIS plan (Part 1)

Updated: Mar 16, 2018

Why self-managing your NDIS plan is something you should consider

Self-managing or self-directing your NDIS Plan might seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and the right support, managing things yourself can help you get more from the support funding provided by the NDIS.Here we’ll explore the pros and cons of self-managing and self-directing over this two-part series – starting with the pros. 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.

But first, let’s start at the beginning.

What is self-managing?

When you choose to self-manage your NDIS plan, you’ll be responsible for managing all of the funds. They’ll be given directly to you, so you can engage support directly. This will involve keeping good records and receipts for payments made to providers and support staff. You’ll need to have a good grasp of how to stay within the budgeted amounts allocated to you by the NDIS.Self-management also give you the right to purchase supports from providers that aren’t registered with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). For further clarification, you can read through the self-managing your plan factsheet provided by the NDIS.

What is self-directing?

When you choose to self-direct your plan, you choose direct control over your supports and how they’re provided to you. You’ll choose what support you get, when, where and by whom.

If you feel that you might need help finding the supports you need (but still want to manage them yourself) you may request a Support Coordinator or a Local Area Coordinator to help you find and connect with new supports. Or you may decide to use a tool like First2Care to help you build a support team and connect you with providers. But you will still be in control of directing your support.

What are the pros to self-managing your NDIS plan?

While we all know that choice and control are at the core of this plan management option, the pros of self-managing and self-directing can be life changing.

1. You control your own path to success

Knowing that you’re responsible for every facet of your plan, and what it means for your future can feel intimidating for some, but for others, the opportunity to take control can be empowering. And sometimes, a little faith in yourself and a little help to begin is enough to get you going and achieving things you never thought possible. We saw this when my autistic brother moved out 2 years ago. He was so thrilled to be given the opportunity to live his life on his terms that he’s flourished.

Geoffrey Cooper is helping others with pre-planning support, and often towards a goal of self-management. He lost 90% of his sight 15 years ago while he was working in the disability sector, helping families with children with disability. “[Self-management means], there’s a greater opportunity of not being swept up in a continuation of old cultures, which group people with a disability for activities, simply because it’s more economical.”Geoffrey is right. The old funding model wasn’t built to empower people with disability. For the first time ever – the NDIS is about your rights as a person – not just as a person with a disability, but a person as a member of the greater community.

2. Get more bang for your buck

By choosing to self-manage and self-direct your support, you can get a bit creative about how you engage your supports to make the most of your money. For example, you might decide to engage a Speech Therapist to train family, carers or teachers to do parts of the therapy with your son so that you save money on having to employ a qualified therapist to provide all the ongoing support. Your funding is paid directly to you and you’re responsible for engaging supports and paying invoices.

Direct supports won’t have the same overheads as a service provider, but if you wish, you can choose to engage some support directly and also get supports from service providers. This might mean you make savings by engaging supports directly, and pay a higher rate those you engage from providers. Either way – it’s your choice.

David Swift and his wife receive support at home to enable them to have a full social and work life. He says, “Our delivery of support has been in the traditional sense. One observation I’ve made, is the layers of unnecessary hidden costs that have come out of our funding. [Instead], it should go to consumers and support workers. I plan to pay well. If support exceeds our expectations, I plan to pay accordingly.”

The best part is, that if he chooses to pay above the NDIS Price Guide to reward his staff, he can. But be aware that the NDIS will only fund supports to the maximum rate in the Price Guide, which will mean that if you choose to pay above the rate, you’ll have fewer hours of support funded, and additional hours will need to be funded by you.

3. You can choose the supports you want, based on your own criteria

When you self-manage your funding, you can choose to engage the person you believe can support you best. This might be a local cabinet maker to assist with home modifications or a self-employed support worker.

If you want to, you can still engage registered providers and allied health professionals – but you aren’t limited to these options. There are plenty of documented benefits of building a support team who work in a partnership with you. And often these people have different qualifications or aren’t registered providers. With self-management, it’s your choice.David told me that his vision is to create a small team that knows his needs very well. “I want to invest in a small team with greater communication between me and the workers. Self-managing funds can also be used to buy services and goods from mainstream services; this will be good as some of my needs can be met by local businesses.”

Although he feels a little daunted by managing his staff, Mark Warren, who has dwarfism and lives in group supported accommodation, acknowledged the limitations of the old funding model. “In the past, you would just have to work to whatever the provider gave you but with the new system, I will now have the choice to choose what companies I want and have them cater to my specific requests.”

4. You don’t have to do it all without support

This is perhaps my favourite thing about self-management. Even if you decide to take on the responsibility of handling the budget, and employing and directing staff – you can also apply for assistance to build your capacity to learn to do this better, or more independently.

Say for example you wanted to self-manage all the financial aspects of the plan, and you wanted the professional advice or ongoing assistance from a tax accountant that would be able to help you manage your super and tax obligations (if these apply to you) then you can. If you think about your strengths and weaknesses while you’re pre-planning, you can identify areas where you might be given Capacity Building funds to increase your ability to manage your plan independently in the future.

So what are the cons to self-managing your NDIS funding? Read the next post about the challenges that might face people who choose to self-manage – and how you can prepare for them. 

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Over to you

We’d love to know more about you and how you’re intending on managing your NDIS plan. Let us know in the comments.