e-Blast: Changes to help NDIS participants during COVID-19

Today the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the Hon Stuart Robert MP, announced three changes to help NDIS participants during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Increased flexibility for low cost assistive technology (AT),
  • New support line items for NDIS participants living in supported independent living (SIL), arrangements, and
  • Online access to the NDIS Access Request Form (ARF) and Supporting Evidence Form.

These changes are in place until September 2020, with a review at the end of June 2020.

QDN has been raising these important issues since the beginning of COVID-19, especially in relation to people with disability who are marginalised and vulnerable. It is critical that people with disability have access to smart devices or information technology so they can remain connected with services and supports, access essential telehealth services, and have a way of communicating with services, family and friends, while socially isolating.

It remains an issue that internet connectivity such as Wi-Fi or data costs are not included in these announcements, given the costs of data plans to use smart devices or technology are challenging for people on pensions and fixed incomes. With libraries currently closed, and other opportunities for free Wi-Fi scarce, access may still not be available to those who need it most.

QDN will continue to work with members and Queenslanders with disability to see how these changes are impacting on the ground, and we will raise the issue about the need for funding for data.

It is positive to have the Access Request Form and Supporting Evidence forms on-line and reflects QDN’s requests to enable measures that smooth the NDIS access pathway for people with disability.

A summary of the changes are outlined below.  You can find further information about these changes on the NDIS website at https://www.ndis.gov.au/coronavirus/participants-coronavirus-covid-19

Summary of changes to help NDIS participants during COVID-19

Increased flexibility for low cost assistive technology

To ensure continuity in NDIS funded supports and services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the NDIA are temporarily broadening the flexible approach for low cost AT items.

Participants will be able to use their existing NDIS funding to purchase an item if the following criteria are met:

  • the AT will maintain existing funded NDIS supports like a program or therapy
  • the provider of supports has confirmed in writing that the device is necessary to continue supports and services while maintaining physical distancing requirements
  • the AT is the lowest specification that will maintain funded supports
  • the participant does not already have the item, another suitable item or access to the item
  • the AT has not been funded by another service system (such as education)

The NDIA are recommending participants work with their existing providers to discuss the best way to receive services and supports while maintaining physical distancing.

New support line items for participants living in supported independent living (SIL) arrangements

For participants living in SIL arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic, to enable them to receive additional care and support if a resident is diagnosed with COVID-19, the NDIA  has introduced two new support items for cleaning services and higher intensity support. If a participant is diagnosed with COVID-19, SIL providers will be able to claim:

  • $300 for a one-off professional deep clean of a residence.
  • Up to $1,200 per day for higher intensity support including staffing increase, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), professional laundering, and any ancillary costs directly related to the participant’s diagnosis.

Online access to the ARF and Supporting Evidence Form

To better support people with disabilities to apply to the NDIS while maintaining physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the NDIA has made the ARF and Supporting Evidence Form available for download on their website.

Potential participants can continue to apply to access the NDIS by:

  • calling 1800 800 110, or
  • emailing NAT@ndis.gov.au, or by contacting their local LAC or NDIA office.

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