Applying for Assistive Technology with NDIS
If you are looking to access assistive technology (AT) supports through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) we want you to be able to navigate the system as effectively as possible. There are various aspects to consider when applying for assistive technology, including eligibility criteria, funding options, assessment and prescription processes, and implementation considerations.
A wide range of assistive technology is available under the NDIS. They could come in the form of communication aids, mobility devices, sensory aids, and home modifications. The key is to determine which devices or modifications you need in your everyday living that will have the potential to enhance your independence and improve your quality of life.
Maple has put together an in depth guide to give you the knowledge you need to navigate the complexities of applying for assistive technology with the NDIS. We want you to be able to make informed decisions so you can meet your specific goals and make everyday living that much easier.
What is meant by Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology is an umbrella term for equipment, devices, tools, and software programs that are designed to provide practical solutions for our everyday activities. Just because someone’s needs are more complex than others doesn’t mean they have to live limited lives.
With the use of assistive technology, people living with disabilities can participate more fully in daily activities and in some cases, live fully independent lives.
Assistive technology can cover a wide range of areas. Some examples include:
- Mobility aids such as wheelchairs, walkers, and canes that help someone with limited mobility to move around their environment easier.
- Communication devices such as augmentative and alternative communication tools that assist people with speech or language difficulties to communicate more effectively.
- Sensory aids such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, magnifiers, telecommunication output devices and Braille to improve hearing for those with hearing or visual impairments.
- Daily living aids such as modified eating utensils, page turners, dressing aids, personal hygiene aids and pencil holders.
- Prosthetics or orthotics such as artificial limbs or supportive devices that assist those with mobility challenges.
- Environmental control systems that can be activated by pressure, eyebrows or breath to control home appliances; TV’s, lights, and other electronic devices.
- Home or workplace modifications or structural adaptations to lessen physical barriers such as lifts, ramps, widened doorways and automatic door openers.
- Adaptive computer software and hardware that make computers, tablets and smartphones more accessible.
- Assistive apps such as mobile apps and software that assist people with various disabilities in learning, organisation and memory enhancement.
What are the benefits of Assistive technology?
Assistive technology as a whole improves the quality of life of those with disabilities or complex needs. It can improve productivity and learning abilities as well as increase active engagement in education, the workforce, and community activities.
In addition to this, the use of assistive technology in everyday living reduces the need for health and support services, long term care and caregivers, providing autonomy and dignity for those who have access to it.
What Assistive Technology does NDIS fund?
The NDIS will fund assistive technology that:
- Relates to your disability and helps you with different activities.
- Is right for you and your needs and helps you to pursue your goals.
- Is value for money compared to other supports that would achieve the same outcome.
- Is not funded or provided by someone else, such as a hospital or other government agencies.
Here the NDIS website goes into more detail about what assistive technology they can and can’t fund for individuals.
What are the different levels of NDIS Assistive Technology?
There are four different levels of assistive technology defined by the NDIS. Levels one and two are usually low to mid cost and easy to use and install. Levels three and four are specialised and complex AT. They require assessments and quotes to be considered by the NDIS and can usually only be purchased or trialled from specialist stores:
Basic Assistive Technology – Level 1
Level 1 AT is safe and simple to use, you don’t need much help to set it up or use it and they can often be purchased in local stores or online.
Level one AT can include non-slip bath mats, walking sticks, crutches, bed protection, alarms, communication books, low cost electronic devices and large print labels.
Standard Assistive Technology – Level 2
Level two AT can often be tried or tested before it is bought to make sure it is right for you and can be purchased in specialist stores that sell assistive technology.
Level two AT can include shower chairs, handrails, chair raises, household devices, transfer equipment, smartphone apps or computer programs and prosthetics.
Specialised Assistive Technology – Level 3
Level three AT is generally adjusted to suit your individual needs and will link to your other Assistive Technology supports. You will need to make sure it is set up correctly to avoid any risk of injury.
Level three AT can include power wheelchairs, bath lifts, non-complex orthotics and prosthetics, mobile or ceiling hoists, pressure mattresses and standard home modifications.
Complex Assistive Technology – Level 4
Level four AT can be custom made or adjusted to suit your specific needs and will require instalment or linking with other assistive devices.
Level four AT can include environmental control units, complex communication devices, complex orthotics or prosthetics, high level pressure care sleep systems, electronic mobility devices and complex home modifications.
How can you get Assistive Technology in your NDIS plan?
To access assistive technology through your NDIS plan you can discuss its inclusion with your plan manager during your planning meeting. If you already have an existing plan with the NDIS, there may be opportunities to allocate some of your funding for assistive technology, provided it aligns with the NDIS funding criteria. You will need to ensure your eligibility according to the NDIS guidelines to be approved for AT funding.
Assistive Technology Assessor
Your Assistive Technology Assessor can help you to assess what assistive technology would be best for your needs and goals. They can also help you find it, set it up and learn how to use it. Your AT assessor might be in the form of your Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Speech pathologist, Psychologist or your Rehabilitation Engineer.
For all equipment items considered specialised (Level 3) and complex (Level 4) Assistive Technology, you will need an assessment from a qualified Assistive Technology Assessor who can recommend the most suitable assistive technology or home modification for you. They will need to provide a report outlining their recommendations and include quotes. This will be submitted to the NDIA who will then consider funding and approval for your AT.
You will also need to provide evidence of the specific devices you require to perform daily activities effectively and to help to achieve your goals. The type of information you need to provide to the NDIS may vary depending on the type of assistive technology you need, whether the device is low, mid or high cost, and what level of AT it falls under.
Submit for consideration
If it is low or mid cost then you will receive a decision from the NDIS within 28 days, and if it is high cost the decision by the NDIS can take up to 50 days. This process ensures that the type of assistive technology you receive is best suited to your needs.
How do I manage my NDIS Assistive Technology funding?
You have options when it comes to managing your NDIS plan and its funding. You can choose to self manage your plan, you can work with a registered plan manager, you can have it managed by the NDIA, or you may choose to manage your plan with a hybrid of these options.
Self managing your NDIS plan gives you the control and responsibility for arranging and paying your funded supports. Not only does it grant you the autonomy to handpick the supports that align with your needs, you also have the freedom to handle the bookkeeping and record-keeping responsibilities, putting you in full control of your financial decisions and allocations.
Registered Plan Manager
A Plan Manager can play a crucial role in tailoring a plan that perfectly suits your needs and goals. If you don’t like the idea of bookkeeping, they take on the responsibility of handling your support service payments and maintaining accurate records.
They can use their knowledge and experience of local support services to help you make informed decisions and allow you to explore new avenues. They will ensure the invoices are received, checked for accuracy and confirm services have been delivered. It is your plan manager’s responsibility to keep you updated regularly on your spending for financial clarity.
NDIA (or Agency) Managed
You can choose to have the NDIA take on the responsibility of managing your plan in a similar way to a Plan Manager. The main difference with NDIA management is:
- you cannot use unregistered providers;
- your supports cannot charge more than the NDIS pricing arrangements and Price limits;
- and you can use the myplace portal to see the claims and keep track of your spending.
To find out more about planning your NDIS with a Plan Manager at Maple Community Services reach out to us today. We’re here to support you every step of the way, or to be part of a hybrid management scheme that best suits you.