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How to optimise your NDIS Assistive Technology Funding

by Frances Gibson (Occupational Therapist)

There’s one important thing to help you reach your goals while making the most of your NDIS funding – and that’s having a good understanding of the funding and how it should be used. When it comes to assistive technology, you certainly wouldn’t be alone if you’re a little bit lost in understanding what this entail, how it can fit into your budget, if it is considered a consumable and if you need an occupational therapist to purchase it. You might even have some confusion about just what an occupational therapist does – and that’s okay!

There’s a lot to digest if you’re new to the NDIS or even if you’ve been accessing it for a while, you might realise there are things you’ve missed out on. We’ve complied some useful information for you, if you’re wondering how to make the most out of your NDIS assistive technology budget.

Understanding Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology, or AT, is any piece of equipment, modification, or item that makes daily life easier. This can be anything from a can-opener with an ergonomic grip handle, to a powered mobility scooter.

The main idea behind the NDIS is that funding is individualised, and specific to the needs of each person’s disability. There is no list of every single item of AT, because NDIS funding decisions are based entirely on what is reasonable and necessary for each unique person. Assistive technology is funded through the Consumables section of your NDIS plan.

assistive technology

What is an OT?

OT stands for Occupational Therapist. An Occupational Therapist is an allied health professional who is interested your day-to-day activities and the places (environment) that you do that in. If you’re finding an activity difficult, an occupational therapist will work with you to see if you can do it in a different way or recommend a gadget (assistive technology) to make it easier or to help you be more independent.

OT’s specialise in assistive technology- matching the person to the equipment. An OT will look at your environment, how you do the task, and can advise of which equipment may be the best match. OT’s (and other allied health professionals) are funded through the Capacity Building section of your NDIS plan.

Do I need an Occupational Therapist to access Assistive Technology equipment?

The NDIS have rules around what kinds of equipment need an assessment by an AT mentor or qualified allied health professional (OT, physiotherapist, speech pathologist, continence nurse, etc.). There are different categories and processes depending on the cost of the item and whether there is any risk that could be involved. If your AT is low cost and low risk, then you can go and buy what you need.

It is strongly recommended to speak with a trustworthy equipment provider who can chat with you about what will help you to achieve your goals with the AT. If you need additional information about the different funding categories and processes for low, mid and high-cost items, our NDIS consumables information hub has everything you need to know.

Low-cost items relate to AT that costs less than $1500. If the item is less than $1500, is low risk, and funding is included in your plan, then you can purchase this using your funds.

Mid-cost means AT which costs between $1,500-$15,000. You will need a letter of support from your allied health professional to spend this amount. This applies to both low and higher risk items. As the guidance around this is subject to change, it’s important to check the NDIS website for the latest information.

For high-cost items which are $15,000 and above, your AT professional will need to complete an NDIS AT Assessment form, which the NDIS will need to consider. This assessment helps the NDIS to understand why this is the best equipment for you.

Occupational therapy

I already know which assistive technology I want to buy – so now what?

If you need to buy a replacement item or the AT you want to purchase is a low-cost, low risk item, you can purchase this without the need for an allied health report. If you have the support of a plan manager, it is best to check with them about the process and the latest rules.

Where can I find and Occupational Therapist?

There are a few ways you can find an OT. If you have Support Coordination included in your plan, they can help you to find someone with the right experience to help you to achieve your goals. If you do not have support coordination, you can search for an OT through the OT Australia website.

How is Assistive Technology or access to an Occupational Therapist funded through the NDIS?

Assistive Technology mentors and Support Coordinators are funded through the Capacity Building section of your NDIS plan. Anyone who is working with you to develop skills or find a solution to enable you to be more independent is funded through this section, which also covers of a range of allied health professionals.

Your occupational therapist will help translate to the NDIS how the equipment or modification will help you to work towards your NDIS goals, be good value for money, increase your independence, and any other benefits for you and your supports.

The NDIS understand that there are times where funding a piece of equipment will reduce the need for paid supports in the future, and so it is important to choose the best solution for your needs, and not just the cheapest option.

Does all AT equipment cost the same?

No. Many things in the NDIS have their prices set, however assistive technology does not have a standardized rate. Like many things, it is a good idea to shop around to find a supplier that you feel understands your needs and has a good solution for you.

Where do I find the equipment that I need?

There are numerous equipment suppliers available across Australia. If you have an allied health professional working with you to source your assistive technology, they will be able to advise you of a range of suppliers.

Mobility Aids Australia is a division of Independence Australia and are a leading provider of assistive technology to Victorians. Like Independence Australia, Mobility Aids Australia are a social enterprise, so part of the proceeds from selling healthcare products goes back into the community, supporting people living with a disability or other personal need to regain and retain their independence.

What if I need assistive technology, but it hasn’t been included in my plan?

If your NDIS plan does not need the funding that you need for assistive technology, you will need to speak to your Support Coordinator if you have one, or your Local Area Coordinator to request a plan review.

If you are based in Victoria, and have questions about assistive technology and occupational therapy, you can find more information on Mobility Aids Australia or contact
[email protected]
[email protected]

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