Changing Landscape of NDIS

Ian Robertson
Manager, APC Northmead

Much has changed since the NDIS commenced their 3-year pilot program on 1st July 2013 in five areas across Australia. APC was fortunate to be have been involved in the Hunter region NDIS pilot program, managing approximately half of the NDIS amputee clients who went through the trial program in the 3-year period.

Throughout the trial, and following the 1st July 2016 roll-out, we have seen significant change and have been active in working with our NDIS partners to shape the processes for amputees. The NDIS systems are strengthening and becoming more consistent as time moves on.

The NDIS is a CLIENT FOCUSED and CLIENT DRIVEN program. The NDIS is insisting on clients advocating for themselves, and not relying upon service providers to do this for them as they have in the past. The NDIS is empowering amputees to take care of themselves and take control of their prosthetic care. One constant with the NDIS system is the input needed by the participant to create their plan. Participants have the power to expedite their plan approvals and outcomes. The participant driving their own care is the backbone of the NDIS, and as participants, the importance of follow up calls and emails to your planner and local area coordinators cannot be underestimated.

The focus in the planning meeting should be on the inability to perform tasks and other hurdles experienced on a day to day basis by the amputee. The solutions to the listed limitations can then be addressed by your prosthetist and as achievable goals with the provision of the correct Assistive Technology (AT). This is a total change of thinking needed from the amputee population, as historically the mindset has always been on what the amputee can do, not what they cannot do. The key point to be made here is that your prosthetist will find a solution to those listed difficulties through the provision of the appropriate technology.

As a prosthetic service provider, one of our constant hurdles is the approval of the treatment plan, and the subsequent allocation of funding for the treatment. If the correct NDIS procedures are followed by your planner, things simply work. The importance of working with your prosthetist is paramount to achieve a timely and positive outcome. Our client/NDIS interactions now run into the many hundreds and our knowledge and experience in the NDIS system has enabled us to guide our clients through the system in an efficient way. We have found that when things deviate from the normal NDIS process, long delays and client frustrations are the result. I strongly suggest you have discussions with your prosthetist prior to attending your planning meeting.

Some points to remember

  • Talk to your prosthetist prior to your planning meeting
  • Attend your planning meeting with a specific list of achievable goals.
  • A goal of “want to get on with life” is not helping your prosthetist find a solution to your limitation
  • Remember that ongoing maintenance of a prosthesis is just as important as the prosthesis provision itself
  • Funding must be allocated in the correct category for the system to work
  • If your planner is unsure of anything, ask them to contact your prosthetist
  • The participant is the driver so be proactive
  • Your prosthetist will know the NDIS system involving prosthetics better than your planner so ask them for advice

The NDIS are asking all registered service providers to have a quality system in place, and the NDIS will audit all service providers in 2019 to ensure they comply with NDIS standard and requirements.  APC have recently completed this NDIS/Quality and Safeguards audit and have successfully demonstrated that our quality systems meet the high standards the NDIS require from their service providers. APC is one of, if not the first prosthetic service provider to be NDIS accredited through this system in Australia. APC are currently engaged in this audit process, which will demonstrate APC has the systems and processes in place to meet the needs of NDIS participants.  These audits will continue to take place on an annual basis, and successfully completing the audit is a pre-requisite in continuing to be able to provide services to our NDIS amputee clients.

This industry wide audit process will involve all NDIS service providers involved in prosthetics and orthotics and raise the professionalism of our industry. Our professional association AOPA is also heavily involved in assuring the service provision for the amputee participants is at the forefront of care. This governance and guidance based around the NDIS system will set the stage for the continued successful service provision for our clients.

As the landscape changes and we adapt and grow in our knowledge of the system, our clients can be assured that amputee care is in a far better place than it was prior to the start of the NDIS in 2013.  We continue to make ourselves available to support our clients as they work their way through the new system.