05 December 2019

Every NDIS plan has a start date and end date, and funding to purchase supports and services to help you meet your goals.

Many Participants experience issues with using their NDIS plans. There can be any number of reasons, but let’s look at the main issues:

1. Plan Underutilisation - not spending your NDIS plan budget.

It seems a shame to have spent all that effort applying for NDIS, getting ready for and talking about your needs at the planning meeting, and then not using your allocated funds.

If a NDIS plan runs for 12 months and has a budget based on a year’s worth of support, a delay in commencing the plan or services can mean less services are used. 

There are lots of issues related to some providers who have waiting lists which impact how much of your NDIS plan you can use. Or it can be a simple case of the time it takes to find the right provider. 

Even more frustrating – you may have found the right support only to hear they have left the organisation, need to go on extended leave or have changed roles and can no longer support you.

Additionally, during the year there may be unanticipated periods of illness, no-shows or cancellations to service, or there may be regular periods where services do not get used at the same rates, for example during summer or winter months. 

All of this can add up to under-using your NDIS plan. 

With the NDIS it really is a case of use it or lose it! There can be a compounding effect - because at the next plan review the obvious conclusion will be that if you didn’t use your funding, then you don’t need it for following years, and so your budget gets reduced. 

In fact, according to NDIA data, around 50% of Participants use 50% or less of their plan in their first year! On average, it’s a 50% utilisation in first year plans, and takes four more years to reach just 74%. The NDIA explains this by saying Participants are not familiar with how NDIS works and therefore don’t use their plans properly.

Utilisation-rate-by-plan-number-2017-18.PNG
Source – p32 NDIS COAG Disability Reform Council Quarterly Report 31 December 2018 (Q2, Y6) https://www.ndis.gov.au/media/1190/download
 

2. Over-utilisation - Over spending your NDIS plan

Some Participants experience the exact opposite of underutilisation and overspend their NDIS budget on various supports. 

The main areas where overspending occurs are for:

  • Therapy supports when there is more than one Therapist or Allied Health provider who is delivering support. For example, an Occupational Therapist, Speech Pathologist and Psychologist are all billing against the same NDIS line item, and the Participant has lost track of what is remaining and continues receiving services. Or not enough planning has been made to make sure there are enough funds left to get reports and quotes for upcoming reviews. These reports and quotes can be quite expensive, and Participants should plan to have funding ready for these needs. 
  • Daily Living supports from different organisations who are billing against the same budget item for things like attendant care, cleaning, and other help at home. Without careful planning and oversight some Participants can be left with no money in their NDIS plan.
  • Support Coordination budgets which are limited and are for help with setting up and connecting with providers, as well as assisting with plan reviews towards the end of each plan.
 

3. Confusion – about which budgets and NDIS line items can be used for specific supports

Some Participants do not understand their plans and have limited help to manage it. Every NDIS plan is different, and within each plan there are set amounts that can be used for different supports. 

On top of these support line items, there can also be further restrictions, such as when a plan budget item reads, “Stated Support”. A Stated Support means the funding must be used for exactly what is written in the plan.

There is also flexibility within each NDIS plan to use some parts of the funding to access different supports. 

Within Core Supports, you are able to move funding from one category to another if you need more of one type of support and less of the other. Participants can use funds from one support category to purchase supports under another support category. The only restriction occurs when there is a ‘Stated Support’, a Transport specific budget item, a Supported Disability Accommodation (SDA), or a specific ‘in-kind’ support. If you have funding dedicated for any of those items, then you must spend those funds on those items. 

Within Capacity Building Supports, Participants have flexibility within each category to purchase supports. However, funding in one category cannot be spent on services that fall in another category of support. 
So, it pays to know how you can use your NDIS budget, so you can get the most from your NDIS plan.
 

How can a plan manager, like Integra, help overcome these issues?

A good plan manager is proactive in assisting participants as much as possible while still supporting their choice and control. Here at Integra, we know the NDIS and how it works, so we can help you to use your plan properly to get the most from it. 

We have a variety of processes and procedures to notify you of how your budget is being spent and whether you’re at risk of over or underspending and ensure you have funds for the length of you plan. 

Plus, we can set aside certain funds for selected providers to make sure there will always be the right amount of money available for these services.

We also give you access to our portal where you can track your spending anytime, 24/7. We send you monthly reports to show exactly how your budget is tracking, and we provide check-ins to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your plan.

Integra’s system also makes sure that invoices are processed within the rules of the NDIS. It’s our job to know the line items and what you can and can’t do with certain funds. This means you’ll have an expert on your side, helping you through complexities of the NDIS. If you have an issue, we’ve probably come across it before. We’ll contact the NDIS where there’s any confusion, so you don’t have to. 
 

Select Integra Plan Management today

It doesn’t matter how many NDIS plans you have had, or whether you’re currently Self or Agency Managed - if you’re thinking you’d like help from experts in NDIS and plan management to get the best from your NDIS plan, then get in touch with our friendly team today. 

Call us on 1800 696 347 or sign up online at myintegra.com.au/signmeup 

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