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If you are new to the world of the NDIS it can be confusing and a little mystifying. Even if you have received disability or community services before, you may still find the NDIS a bit of a struggle to settle in to. NDIS language is totally different and even if you think you know what they are talking about, it turns out that it is actually something totally different.

We have put together a bit of a cheat sheet to help you out.

What exactly is an LAC (Local Area Coordinator)?

LACs are employed by NDIS partners. These partners are organisations who have won the contract to provide Local Area Coordination services in particular regions. Currently, in Victoria, the LAC partners are Brotherhood of St Laurence, LaTrobe Community Health Services and Intereach.

LACs conduct the information gathering process for participants streamed as General and Supported (Streams 1 and 2). This basically means they conduct the planning meeting and collect documentary evidence to help with the plan build and approval.

LACs are not able to approve plans, this must be done by an NDIS employee (Planner or Delegate).

Along with a whole raft of other functions, LACs also support participants streamed as general or supported to implement their plan once it has been approved.

So if that’s an LAC, what is a Planner?

A Planner is employed by the NDIA. They conduct information gathering for participants in large residential settings and those streamed as intensive and super-intensive.

They have the authority to decide what is ‘Reasonable and Necessary’ and to build and approve plans. The information collected at a planning meeting by an LAC is always passed on to a Planner to be approved and turned into a plan.

Planners also conduct Plan Reviews, so even if a general or supported Participant (who originally had their planning meeting with an LAC) asks for an unscheduled plan review, the review will always be conducted by a Planner.

Unlike LACs, Planners do not support participants past the planning meeting.

Is Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) actually NDIS?

The ECEI approach provides specialised support and services to children between the ages of 0-6 who have disability or developmental delay. ECEI supports and services are delivered by ECEI partners, who similarly to LAC partners, won the contract to partner with the NDIA.

Providing quality intervention early in a child’s life can often reduce the possible need for longer-term interventions and will support them over time to lead an ordinary life.

The ECEI approach tracks the child’s progress against the goals set for them and focuses on improving functional outcomes to achieve greater independence and participation in their everyday lives. ECEI intervention might be all the child needs to reach their developmental goals.

However, if the child has longer-term support needs, they might get an NDIS support plan which will help the child get access to appropriate supports over the long term.

So basically ECEI is NDIS for children and provides quick access to support that’s tailored to the child’s needs in the hope that they will meet their developmental goals and will no need longer-term NDIS support.

What is Pre-Planning and do I need it?

Pre-Planning is extremely important in ensuring that the participant gets the best outcome from their planning meeting. It enables you to get an understanding of what you need and can ask for when you are in your meeting.

It is also the time to research options that you never thought you would be able to access.

There are a number of different ways of doing Pre-Planning:

GROUP SESSION: these sessions are usually delivered by service providers or an NDIS partner. They discuss the planning process and the planning meeting in general terms without delving into what each individual should do to prepare for their own planning meeting.

WORKBOOKS: Pre-Planning workbooks are usually provided to the participant by service providers or downloaded from the internet (the NDIS has recently published their own Pre-Planning Booklet). These workbooks can be quite comprehensive and may provide a good outline of what each individual should do to prepare for their planning meeting. However, they do not allow for discussion with a professional if you have questions or would like to discuss the pros and cons of the latest technology.

PRE-PLANNING MEETINGS: working one-on-one with a consultant to get a deep understanding of the NDIS, the planning process and how to get the most out of the planning meeting can provide the most comprehensive planning experience. These sessions prepare the individual by explaining each step of the process, and why the information that is required is important.

All participants should undertake some sort of Pre-Planning process to get ready for their meeting.

Do I need to write a Participant Statement?

The Participant Statement is the description of how the participant would like to live their life, how they are currently living their life and how they are accessing their community. It is also the place for the participant to discuss what is and isn’t working with their current supports.

It is important to put as much information as possible into the Participant Statement as service providers, especially Support Coordinators look to this Statement to get a feel for how the plan will be best implemented and where to start with service engagements.

Why do I need all of these Therapy Reports?

Therapy reports are a critical element that planners and LACs use when it comes to deciding whether a participant will receive funding for a particular support. They can be the key to getting a well rounded and well-funded plan.

All therapy reports need to be written in plain language so that people without specialist training can understand them. This is important because often LACs and Planners who are reading the reports and interpreting them to build a plan do not have medical, allied health or other disability-specific training or experience. Using jargon or acronyms will only get in the way.

The NDIS places significant value on the evidence of need and effectiveness of a support or therapy approach. The therapy goal MUST be linked to the participants NDIS goals in order for it to be considered valid or beneficial. Excellent reports will also include a success statement for each therapy goal listing the expected outcomes of the therapeutic strategies that will be used to reach the goals.

The report needs to be specific about the quantity of each type of recommended support in order to allow the Planner/LAC to translate it into a line item from the price guide.

It is also imperative that each report only covers the assessments, suggestions and therapies that are within the scope of the particular therapist’s expertise.

What is a ‘Light Touch Review’?

The ‘Light Touch Review’ is a new buzzword that has popped up in the last few weeks.

Basically, if a plan has been approved and the money management has been incorrectly allocated (agency managed, instead of plan managed, for instance), you can go back to the LAC or Planner and request a ‘Light Touch Review’ to have the money management amended. You have always been able to do this, but now it has a name!

 Support Coordination…potato, patato!

Generally, when people refer to Support Coordination they are actually referring to the service that the NDIS calls ‘Coordination of Supports’. This is the middle of the range capacity building support that is often added to a participant’s plan because some type of complexity is involved. For instance, there may be a number of challenges related to the participant’s disability or there may be a number of service providers involved that need to be coordinated.

If a provider provides this service, whether they call it Coordination of Supports or Support Coordination they will be registered under the Assist Life Stage, Transition category and can charge up to $96.04 per hour.

When the NDIS refers to Support Coordination they are in fact referring Specialist Support Coordination.  To provide this service the provider will be registered under the Support Coordination category and will need to be an Occupational Therapist, a Social Worker or a Psychologist. This category of capacity building support is charged at as much as $182.74 per hour and compared to Coordination of Supports, is rarely included in a plan.

Support Connection is another capacity building support and is usually included in plans where the participant just needs a little guidance around understanding their plan and accessing supports. This service is often provided by LACs but can occasionally be provided by Support Coordinators. This category of capacity building support is charged at up to $58.92 per hour and is not to be confused with Support Coordination or Coordination of Supports as it is a very different service.

If you would like other common NDIS terms explained, please feel free to comment below and we will see what we can do!

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