Purchasing Low-Cost Assistive Technology Devices During COVID-19

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To support participants in continuing with their allied health services and achieving their goals, NDIS participants can now purchase AT items using the consumables support category in the core budget of an NDIS plan.

Assistive technology (AT) is any device, software, or equipment used to support the health and activity of people with disability. It enables people with disability to live a healthy, productive, independent life and to perform daily activities that would otherwise have been difficult or impossible to carry out. Assistive technology not only benefits users, but it can also decrease the stress on carers by reducing the need for support.

Social distancing has become the “new normal” during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which means that allied health professionals and their clients have had to get creative and find new and innovative ways of providing their services. Some of the new ways of doing things include using technology, developing at-home exercise plans, letting clients borrow equipment or using available items at home.

The NDIA understands that times have changed. To support participants in continuing with their allied health services and achieving their goals, NDIS participants can now purchase AT items using the consumables support category in the core budget of an NDIS plan.

There are a few rules around this, which you can read about in detail here.

A general overview:

  • No more than $1,500 of a participant’s support budget can be used to purchase AT devices
  • No more than $750 can be spent on an electronic device
  • When purchasing technology, participants must select the basic model only (unless your therapy services genuinely require a more sophisticated model)
  • Purchasing of accessories is only allowed if it is necessary for use in relation to a disability, e.g. to mount on a wheelchair
  • Funding may not be used to pay for home utilities such as an internet connection
  • Only software and apps that are approved in a plan can be purchased with funding
  • The purchase of devices will not be allowed if they do not relate to a participant’s disability, e.g. for entertainment or gaming
  • A device cannot be purchased if it is already available in the participant’s home, e.g. replacement for an older version or if someone else at home owns one
  • This plan is available until September 2020 but will be reviewed and possibly adjusted at the end of June 2020

Where can I find out more about assistive technology and how to access devices?

To simplify the process of accessing AT via your NDIS plan, the NDIA has categorised AT into four complexity levels which you can read more about here.

To determine which AT supports should be included in a participant’s plan, the NDIA may request an AT assessment. If the support provider performs an assessment and determines that an AT device is required to continue specialist allied health services during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the support provider needs to confirm this in writing.

What is an AT assessment?

An AT assessment is conducted by a specialist allied health professional is a critical component in determining the most effective AT solutions available. Simple and low-cost AT may not require an assessment, however gaining NDIS funds for more sophisticated technologies may require a more thorough assessment and supporting documentation.

Finding the best match between a person, their environment, and technology required is a multi-step process that requires technical knowledge and an in-depth understanding of the individual. Having an AT assessment will not only determine the most effective AT solutions to address the needs of the user but will also ensure that there are sufficient funds in their NDIS plan to cover the costs.

Questions?

If you have any further questions about gaining access to AT devices during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you can now email the NDIS directly.

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