AT can be a game changer for people with disability. So, when we heard about the recent NDIA update to the way they fund Assistive Technology (AT), we knew we had to do a deep dive into what AT is, what the new changes are, some examples of AT and how to buy it.
What is AT?
Assistive technology (AT) is the umbrella term for equipment, technology and devices that can help to improve the daily lives of people with disability. However, not all equipment, technology or devices are supported by the NDIA. Items that are considered everyday items – such as vehicles, smart phones, general household furniture etc. – are not usually funded by the NDIS.
Typically, the NDIS will fund AT if it:
Relates to your disability
Assists you with your goals
Helps your social and/or economic participation
Provides value for money
Proves to be effective and beneficial for you
Helps to maintain your informal support
What changes have the NDIS made?
The NDIA made an announcement on March 1st, 2022, that the limit for automatic approvals for mid-cost AT support have changed from $5,000 to $15,000. This means that participants no longer require a quote for AT items under $15,000, making the process of accessing AT supports faster and easier.
If the AT cost is between $1,500 and $15,000, written evidence from an independent AT advisor is still needed before the NDIA approve the funding in your plan.
Examples of AT advisors are:
General practitioner (GP)
Allied health practitioner i.e., physiotherapist or occupational therapist
Assistive technology mentors
Nurse continence specialist
Another qualified practitioner
After the requested AT is included in your plan, you need to work with a skilled AT advisor to determine the best AT option for your needs. An advisor can help you to set up and learn how to use the AT you have purchased or rented.
The three levels of AT
Up to $1,500 per item
No quote required.
Continence products, basic shower chairs, non-slip bathmats, walking stick etc.
From $1,500 to $15,000 per item
Written advice (i.e., a letter or report) by an AT advisor.
Customised shower chair, standing hoist, alternative communication devices, some power wheelchairs etc.
Custom power wheelchairs, complex communication devices, ventilators, transfer aids, prosthetics etc.
Examples of NDIS funded AT
Although purchasing a vehicle is not typically funded by the NDIS, modifications to new or second-hand vehicles can be funded. Modifications that can help someone get in or out of the car, specialised driving controls or wheelchair access are common modifications that the NDIS may fund.
Adjustable Beds and Mattresses
Standard beds and mattresses are typically not funded by the NDIS, however customised options that support your disability needs may be funded.
Wheelchairs and Modifications
Wheelchairs and modifications to help you travel medium to long distances with more ease, to participate in sporting activities, and other reasonable and necessary modifications can be funded by the NDIS.
How to buy AT
Before starting your journey, speak with an AT assessor. They will be able to provide advice on the best types of AT for your needs, provide you with a written letter, and/or provide you with an assessment or quote.
For mid-cost AT, discuss your needs with your AT advisor and they can provide a written letter for you to submit to the NDIA as evidence for funding.
For high-cost AT, your OT can contact the equipment provider (or providers) and obtain a quote. Once you have your quotes, you can submit them to the NDIS along with any other supporting documentation from your OT.
Once funding has been allocated, your AT advisor can help you purchase or rent your equipment.
What about ongoing costs?
It’s likely that there will be additional costs associated with your AT. Things like regular maintenance and repairs can be funded by the NDIS. If there you experience delays while waiting for your AT to arrive, you can receive funding to hire a temporary piece of equipment. You might also be able to access additional funding if your OT would like you to hire the equipment to test it out prior to purchase.
For more information about the NDIS assistive technology guidelines, click here.
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