News | 16 July 2015

Exciting times ahead: lessons from the NDIS trial sites

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thanks to the NDIS Belinda is now a volunteer surf lifesaver.

It’s two years since the National Disability Scheme (NDIS) trial site started in the Hunter and a year after it kicked off in the ACT, so we spoke to one of the large disability providers in both trial sites to find out how they think it’s going and what they’ve learned so far.

House with No Steps has been providing supports in both trial sites since they began and is a long -term supporter of the Every Australian Counts Campaign.

NDIS Engagement and Innovation Manager, Helen Riordan said being part of the trial sites has been full of challenges and opportunities and the ultimate reward of seeing the NDIS make huge differences in people’s lives.

NDIS achieving results

Ms Riordan said House with No Steps staff in the trial sites had noticed the real changes and improvements personalised supports through individual planning and funding have made to the lives of their clients.

“In supported accommodation settings for example, people are accessing more hours of individual support, which is enabling them to be more involved in their local communities.

“People are also looking for new types of supports and they are more involved in deciding when, where and how they receive these supports.”

Siblings Belinda and David were among the first people in Australia to transition to the NDIS on 1 July 2013 with HWNS.

Keeping fit and healthy was a large focus of their NDIS plans. David has chosen to see a personal trainer and also volunteers at Riding for the Disabled, and Belinda is a regular at the gym and is training to compete in swimming at the Special Olympics.

Belinda has also begun volunteering as a life-saver with her local Surf Lifesaving Club.

Belinda and David’s father, Ron, said he was pleased with the NDIS process so far.

“It has really allowed choice and control in Belinda and David’s lives. We are confident that the plans they have in place will allow them to lead more independent and happy lives,” Ron said.

Belinda says she has grown in confidence, “I am stepping more outside my comfort zone and leading a busy life!”

Professional opportunities

Ms Riordan said that staff at House with No Steps are enjoying the challenge of finding new opportunities to be innovative and to work differently – and can tailor services and activities that help people meet their own individual goals.

Staff are working flexibly in this new environment and are focussing on customer service and quality outcomes for the people they are supporting.

Staff are also working in more settings, which has given them more opportunities for professional development.

The NDIS trial has also meant House with No Steps supports more people than ever, and been able to employ more staff to provide these supports.

It’s been a learning experience for everyone.

“Not everyone who goes through the planning process seeks something different to before; some people are content with their current supports,” she said.

“We also anticipate that over time, as the possibilities become more understood, that people will seek different supports.”

Key message: prepare, prepare, prepare

Ms Riordan said that the clear message from both trial sites, from staff and participants is the importance of being well prepared for the planning meeting.

“We’ve created new roles to provide one-on-one support to assist with helping people prepare for their planning meetings, organised meetings with small groups of individuals and families, and larger community forums.”

To assist people to be well prepared for the NDIS House with No Steps has developed a range of resources and strategies for staff and customers as well as using materials provided by the NDIA.

“We have learned that people who go into the planning meeting fully prepared are much more likely to come out with a plan that truly reflects their situation, and incorporates the supports they need to enable them to achieve the goals they’ve identified.

“As plans have been implemented we have seen people we support becoming more connected with their communities, experiencing better health outcomes and engaging in volunteer and paid work.

“That’s a great result. Seeing the aims of the NDIS realised in such a short time is truly encouraging for the future.”

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