Parents of OC Connections (OCC) participant Cal made the most of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) by conducting research and speaking to their peers.
Cal’s parents’ learnings have ultimately helped them to set up a plan for their son which has enabled him to participate more fully in his community, learn new skills and have wonderful new experiences.
Criss and John have kindly offered to share a bit about their journey and how they got the most out of Cal’s NDIS Plan, in the hope that they can help other parents grappling with similar challenges. This is their story.
Before meeting with their Local Area Coordinator (LAC), Criss and John wanted to get a good understanding of the NDIS to see how it could improve Cal’s life.
Criss and John did their research. Prior to their first NDIS meeting they read over the NDIS and Clickability websites, attended OC Connections information sessions, spoke with an OCC Support Coordinator and the staff who work with Cal, read information guides, completed sample questionnaires and spoke with other parents about their experiences.
They contacted an advocate who assisted them to prepare for the NDIS meeting and attended the meeting with them to ensure it all ran smoothly.
Cal’s advocate asked Criss and John to imagine Cal on his worst day; what knowledge and expertise would someone require in order to meet his needs?
The support from the advocate helped the family get a clear understanding of Cal’s abilities and needs, in relation to his age, sibling support and having older parents.
They identified which of Cal’s existing activities were important to continue and carefully thought about new activities that would be beneficial and an exciting addition to his weekly routine.
Criss and John were able to decide on four goals that they thought were the most important for Cal.
- Increase social activities and get involved with the community
- Increase independence
- Prepare for living away from home.
They then made a list of actions outlining how Cal would work towards achieving each goal.
They obtained letters of support from Cal’s doctor and podiatrist. They also obtained other support documents including quotes from services they wanted the NDIA to cover. They learnt about NDIS priorities, terminology and what activities fit into specific NDIS categories.
“Even now we are still getting our heads around some of these things!”
Criss, Cal's Mum
The NDIS meeting
Cal’s family came to the NDIS meeting armed with relevant information and evidence. They provided the LAC a three-page summary outlining Cal’s present situation, a list of goals with actions and supporting documentation. They also had a short list of talking points they wanted to discuss. As a result of their diligent preparation, they didn’t have to wait long for a response from the NDIA about Cal’s plan.
The NDIS plan
Cal received his first NDIS Plan in April 2019.
Along with the plan, the family were advised of next steps to take including how to appoint a support coordinator and set up a meeting.
Cal’s parents said “Since receiving an NDIS plan, Cal’s life is busier and more complete.”
Cal’s busy life and latest achievements
Cal’s OCC Support Coordinator, Deb McLachlan, introduced him to the Attendant Support Program at Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre. Now, every week Cal has a one-on-one swimming lesson and two gym sessions with San his Attendant Support Worker.
Most Sunday afternoons, Cal goes on outings and has lunch with support workers, Julie and Wal. They've seen films, visited markets and the National Gallery of Victoria and have explored the Peninsula. Cal is becoming more confident with every new adventure.
They are planning future trips to visit zoos, tour Gippsland and watch more films! Cal’s parents have also considered activities offered by Down Syndrome Victoria’s Club 21. Cal also attends speech and occupational therapy sessions.
Cal is enjoying his growing independence with regular Short Term Accommodation at OCC.
When interviewed, Cal’s support coordinator, Deb said, "As a Support Coordinator I really enjoy working with Criss and John. They have embraced the responsibility of being nominees by empowering themselves with NDIS knowledge. I admire their enthusiasm to question and carefully examine funding provided in the plan.” She went on to say "Cal’s parents strive to ensure that they are well informed so they can make the best choices for Cal. They are totally committed to understanding the NDIS and Cal’s plan in order to create a great life for Cal.”
Strategies Criss and John used to get the most out of their NDIS pre-planning include:
- Seek advice and ask questions
- Educate yourself about the NDIS; understand it and how it has changed
- Write a summary of your current situation and your goals for the next twelve months. Leave this with your LAC
- Provide supporting documentation and quotes. Leave this with your LAC
- Bring your loved one to the NDIS meeting
- If this is your first NDIS plan and you feel some support would be beneficial, bring an advocate to the NDIS meeting (even if this means having an after-hours meeting)
- Prepare as well as you can.
Preparation is key!
Criss summed up their experience by saying
“We recently heard Fremantle captain Nat Fyfe, winner of the 2019 Brownlow Medal say - preparation is key! I thought to myself how this quote perfectly encapsulates how to get the best out of the NDIS. We plan to stick with this strategy as we prepare for our Review Plan meeting.”
OC Connections wishes to thank Criss and John for their time and effort in providing content for this article.