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Plan Management

6 Ways to Maximise Your NDIS Funding

There’s a lot spoken about getting the most funding possible but there’s a

Written by
Dan McCutcheon

There’s a lot spoken about getting the most funding possible but there’s a second and arguably more important side of the coin and that's maximising your funding to gain the most benefit from it. Yes you can and should request a review of your plan if you feel it does not meet your needs however this is ultimately a decision by the NDIA and the legal system if needed. Focussing on what we can control gives us more time and energy to ‘spend’ (‘scuse the pun) on the things that matter.

Without further ado, here are 5 ways to get the most out of your NDIS funding.

1. Connect with quality providers including a Support Coordinator (if you are funded for Support Coordination).

Do your research to find high quality service providers to provide your core supports (e.g. personal care, community access) and capacity building supports (like your therapy provider and Support Coordinator). Ask around for recommendations and lean on your Support Coordinator or LAC to connect you with providers that are aligned with your values and have a proven track record of supporting people to achieve great outcomes. Cheaper isn’t always better. A provider may offer a slightly better rate but if they can’t support you to achieve your goals you are not getting good bang for your buck!  

2. Limit provider travel

Provider travel is a big culprit when it comes to eating into your NDIS funding. This is best illustrated through an example. By using a video conferencing tool such as Zoom for regular meetings you can stretch your NDIS funding so much further while still remaining in the comfort of your own home. Let's look at an example to best illustrate this.  

Dylan is a NDIS participant who has received funding for speech pathology to help develop his social skills. Dylan chooses therapy provider ‘Lightning Therapy’. A Lightning Therapy speech pathologist comes to visit Dylan for therapy at their home which is a 15min drive from their head office. The therapy session is 45mins and the therapist takes an additional 15mins to complete therapy progress notes and send these to Dylan following the session.  

As a result, a total of 1hr 30mins (45mins meeting+15mins case notes+30mins travel i.e., 15mins each way) is charged at the general therapy hourly rate of $193.99 p/hr. The total charged against Dylan’s NDIS therapy budget is $290.985 (1.5 billable hours).  

If Dylan had chosen to have the therapy session via Zoom they would have only been charged for the meeting duration (45mins) and progress notes (15mins) at the hourly rate of $193.99 p/hr. The total charged against Dylan’s NDIS therapy budget would have been $193.99 (1 billable hour) saving Dylan $96.995.  Some providers also charge non-labour costs for travel at $0.85 p/km potentially adding even further costs.  

This difference isn't as significant for a one-off catch-up but if you have regular sessions you may want to consider the possibility of a combination of face-to-face supports and telehealth.  

3. Plan ahead and monitor your fund spend

When you receive your NDIS plan one of your first actions with your Support Coordinator or LAC should be to identify your priorities. Your NDIS funding isn't your starting point, your goals are. At Circle SC we use a simple SMART goal setting template to get clear about what is most important to you. This ensures your funds aren’t whittled away on low priority tasks. Break down your big goals into smaller steps and habits that you can do on a weekly or daily basis and then allocate funding towards these supports. If you have a 12 month plan then it’s important to plan your funding across this timeframe so you don’t run out early or not fully use what you have received!

If you don’t use your funding, the NDIA often sees this as meaning you didn't need the funding in the first place and may cut these supports from your next NDIS plan. At Circle SC we catch-up every month with the people we support to see how you are spending your funding and if any changes or adjustments need to be made. We log into the online portal with you and we also use our own time tracking software to monitor how much of your funding you have spent, how much is remaining and what that means for you in terms of hours of support going forward.  

4. Choose value for money supports

Your NDIS funding is calculated based on certain types of support but that doesn't mean you can’t use it flexibly to get the same outcome. It’s worth exploring different supports that may give you better value for money such as Counselling ($156.16 p/hr) vs Psychology ($234.83 p/hr) or Exercise Physiology ($166.99 p/hr) vs Physiotherapy ($224.62 p/hr).

Another example is using a Clinical Nurse Consultant ($151.03 p/hr) to create a disability-related health-care plan and train up support workers ($62.17 p/hr) to implement this with you instead of having to pay the higher nurse rate on a weekly or daily basis. This depends on your needs, goals and it's important to consider any risks involved.  

5. Use informal, community and mainstream supports  

Your NDIS plan is based on paid supports and does take into account the support you get from family, the community and other government services. However this doesn't mean that you can’t utilise other networks of support also. While also being conscious of the time and energy of family members and friends, if they are able to support you in an informal way with some of your activities that will free up more funding to direct towards your other ambitious goals.

Research what other government services offer. Are there grants or accessible programs available? All government services have a legislative responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to their services to support people living with disabilities. Even if you have NDIS funding they are still required to make adjustments to ensure you can access their services.  

Self-manage your funding

Our last tip is not for everyone but it's important to include as we feel it is an underrated way of getting the most out of your NDIS funding. By self-managing your funding you hire and fire your own private support staff and have the choice of using registered and unregistered providers. You have more choice and more flexibility to decide what supports to purchase. It can also be very empowering. The downside is that this empowerment comes with more responsibility and more paperwork. See our Blog How-should-I-manage-my-NDIS-funding_.gdoc for the pros and cons of each NDIS fund management style.

With self-management you can cut out ‘the middle man’ administrative costs meaning you have more negotiating power with providers. Often you can purchase supports for a cheaper rate meaning you get more hours of support through your NDIS plan. Alternatively you can pay your providers more to ensure their loyalty and great service standards.. The point is it's up to you! If you are concerned about the paperwork and administrative burden of self-management it might be worth exploring some tools out there that can help such as the Real Support Choices App created to make the obligations of self-management easy.

There’s a lot spoken about getting the most funding possible but there’s a
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