What is “My First Plan”?
It is the initial 12 month plan that participants new to the NDIS create and receive. According to information released by the NDIS the idea is to assist participants in transitioning to NDIS, so that you can continue receiving your current supports and use those 12 months to understand the NDIS and what is available to you. Then, at the 12 month review you can change the plan if you need additional “supports”.
Reading between the lines, it seems to be a way for the NDIS to speed up the signing up process, allowing them to get every eligible applicant processed before the end of 2016. This in itself is not a bad thing, but it is important to know your rights, and to know what you can ask for no matter how the planning process goes for you.
Every Australian Counts published an article on the 29th of June about My First Plan. This article has been very well received by the community, and appears to be one of the most up-to-date resources currently available.
They appear to be suggesting that developing short term goals is the best way to go for My First Plan, and to just focus on the first 12 months.
While the focus is on getting participants the support they need right now, the NDIS is not necessarily merely transferring your current plan.
In plain English this means: Are you happy with what you are getting right now? If so, then ask for that (and plan management funding, more on that below). If you are not happy with what you are currently getting, think about what reasonable and necessary supports your child needs for the next 12 months. The better you can understand the NDIS definition of reasonable and necessary supports, the more prepared you will be to have your first planning meeting.
There is a lot of misinformation floating around the internet regarding My First Plan, namely that “goals” are no longer being included. Now, this is where things get complicated.
Due to the pressure of meeting the almost overwhelming demand, you might end up speaking to someone who is stressed, out of time, or simply unaware of every option available. It all boils down to who you end up speaking to, as with every service industry.
You have no control over who you get, but you can still exercise control over what you get. As espyconnect suggests in their blog, “pre planning remains the most important step…” Your best chance of getting what you want from your first NDIS plan is if you determine what you want.
We recommend you read all the resources linked in this newsletter for the most accurate and complete understanding of the NDIS and My First Plan. The NDIS Planning Workbook remains an important resource to those of you that have unmet needs that can’t wait until the 12 month review (23JAN17 edit: the workbook has since been taken down but you can still download it here).
What about plan management funding?
As you probably already know if you are receiving this newsletter, the Early Intervention Network is a registered plan management provider that offers financial intermediary activities.
In plain English this means: we process your claims to the NDIS to pay the service providers you have elected, we keep all the financial documentation organised for you to meet the NDIS requirements, we prepare reports for you so that you can see where your funding is going, we offer support through a private forum, and we have a free members telephone help line.
How exactly is plan management funding better for me than agency (NDIA) or self management?
Agency management means you don’t have to do the paperwork which will save you a lot of time, stress, and energy. The downside is you have less control over your funding. You can only see registered service providers, for example.
Some service providers do not register with the NDIA. This might be because the limits set out by the Price Guide do not cover the costs of running their business, the quality of service they offer, or they might simply be just as confused by the NDIS as you are!
Self management means you can use your funding to employ support staff, and you are not restricted to only using registered service providers.
The downside is you have to find and organise your own supports, develop service agreements, pay your service providers, keep records, and remain up to date with rapidly changing NDIS policies.
A registered plan management provider allows you the flexibility of self management, while someone independent of the NDIS takes care of the administration. Sounds good, right? Now the question becomes, which plan management provider do you choose?
The Early Intervention Network offers financial support only, for “transitioning” parents only. This means that rather than offering a general service and a “one size fits all” approach, we offer specialised support to parents whose children are currently receiving HCWA or Better Start funding. See our FAQs to determine if we are the right choice for you!