How Asking for Home and Living Supports Under the NDIS Has Changed – And How We Can Help.

Recently, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) announced it was improving the process for requesting home and living supports under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

From June 9, these sorts of requests can now be made as part of your overall plan. The NDIA said it changed the process to make it more “timely and consistent”, while respecting everyone’s individual and often complex needs.

So, what does this mean for you? Let’s start at the beginning:

 

What are Home and Living Supports?

The NDIA says it may fund reasonable and necessary home and living supports such as:

  • Capacity building to help people to improve their living skills, their money and household management, social and communication skills, and behaviour management;
  • Capacity building support to help people develop skills to improve their independence;
  • Home modifications to a person’s home or a private rental property, or case-by-case basis in social housing;
  • Assistive technology to allow a person with a disability to remain independent;
  • Support for day-to-day tasks or personal care, such as help with showering and dressing, or around the home such as laundry and cleaning.

The NDIS may also contribute to the cost of accommodation where a person’s disability means they need specialised accommodation.

 

What has changed?

Anyone who needs to request a new support, or change their home and living supports, can now do so as part of their regular NDIS plan reviews.

The new Supporting Evidence Form – Home and Living can be submitted in one of three ways:

  • Within 100 days of a plan end date, so it can be considered during a scheduled plan review;
  • As part of a change of situation or change of details, along with the relevant change form; or
  • As a request for a decision review, with the relevant review request form.

The new Supporting Evidence Form – Home and Living replaces the old Home and Living Supports request form. If you have recently submitted a request using the previous form, don’t worry – it will still be processed the same way. Just use the new form next time.

The new form will also help participants choose the correct option for their needs. You will, as usual, need to include any other relevant information such as any assessments or recommendations from your treating professionals.

 

What does this mean for people with disability?

The NDIA said it had made the changes after speaking with people with a disability, their families and carers, and organisations and stakeholders in the disability sector.

The changes are designed to:

  • Speed up the process, to make sure that the people who need supports are getting them as soon as possible
  • Meet the NDIA Participant Service Guarantee time commitments
  • Simplify the process, but also ensure it is consistent – so that everyone can expect the same level of service.

In essence, what it means for you is: You should still be able to access all the same supports you need, but hopefully the process will be easier and more straightforward.

 

What if I have a plan review coming up?

If you are unsure about how to approach this – especially if you having a review pending – then get in touch with our team of experts at LiveBig. We can assess your needs and help you to work out incorporating the appropriate Home and Living Supports in your plan review.

The A List – Autism Friendly Activities

For a young person with an autism spectrum disorder, finding the right group of people, the right interests and activities, or the right peer support group can mean living your best life.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has shared a link to The A List. The A List is an online platform for young people with autism and their loved ones to find autism-friendly activities, whatever their age, interests, needs or level of function.

But how does it work, and what sort of activities are included? Let’s take a quick look.

What is The A List?

The A List is an online platform where people can search for social activities that suit their needs. In some cases, you can book directly via the platform or click through to the relevant website to find out more.

It was started by Nicole Gamerov and Bianca Shapiro of MyCareSpace, who saw the need for social options for young people with autism – and decided to do something about it.

How does it work?

There are several ways you can search for the right activities for you. One is to scroll through what is available. Another is to answer a few questions such as your age, location, and interests for a more targeted search of the available options. There are online and in-person activities and groups, including support groups, social networks, and skills development.

What sort of activities are available?

The site offers activities involving animals and nature, arts and crafts, computers and technology, games, holiday camps, carer support groups, peer support, sports, and travel.

For example, you might find a music teacher in your area who has experience teaching children and young people with ASD to learn piano, or perhaps the tuba! Or maybe you like to sing and dance and want to join a drama group.

Or how about an online course to learn about pet care and the skills needed to work in the pet care industry?

There are cooking classes, meditation, dirt bike riding, AFL, horse riding, computer classes, Minecraft groups including moderated Minecraft gaming, choirs, nature camps, mini-golf … the list goes on. There are one-off activities and ongoing courses. There is likely to be an activity to suit a young person with ASD and their interests or needs.

What else is there?

The A List also has a register of support services and resources, such as videos, to help young people with autism improve their social skills, including conversation skills, managing social anxiety and travel skills – even managing the often tricky area of relationships.

Have a look:

The A List has activities and partner organisations across Australia, including support networks and services. As a support organisation ourselves, the team at LiveBig think this is a website worth checking out.

And remember, we at LiveBig are here for all your disability support needs under your NDIS plan, with flexible, tailored services including psychology, occupational therapy, exercise physiology, speech pathology, behaviour support, counselling, physiotherapy and employment support.

Navigating The First Year of Autism Diagnosis

Processing your emotions about the diagnosis can seem overwhelming enough without understanding all the information that accompanies it.

The federal government-funded Autism Awareness Australia has an amazing online resource, Autism: What Next? to help guide the first steps of your autism journey. It was created by people with autism and their loved ones, for people with autism and their loved ones.

But let’s start at the beginning.

What is autism?

Autism: What Next? defines autism spectrum disorder as a development disorder that “affects the way people communicate and relate with the world”. It is key to note that, as the name implies, it covers a full spectrum of behaviours. And while some behaviours can make life a little more tricky to navigate, some are important skills and strengths.

How is it diagnosed?

There is no precise test to diagnose autism spectrum disorder. It is based on behaviours using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Some key diagnostic behaviours include little or no interest in other people’s interests or emotions or difficulty making friends or engaging in conversation. People diagnosed at Level 1 need some support, Level 2 need substantial support, and Level 3 need very substantial support.

While most ASD diagnoses are made in early childhood, some Level 1 ASD might not be diagnosed until a child starts school or even high school.

And sometimes it can go unrecognised into adulthood for many reasons – not least because, like every human being, no two people with autism are the same. Some people may have been misdiagnosed when younger, or their circumstances may have changed. When people live independently, focus on their behaviours may highlight additional needs.

What next?

Whatever the case, there are supports available for people with autism, and their loved ones, for each stage of the autism journey. Autism: What Next? has a wide range of information and is well worth a read.

LiveBig

At LiveBig, we deliver flexible, tailored supports that meet our clients’ individual needs under their NDIS plan. We have a wide range of services, including psychology, occupational therapy, exercise physiology, speech pathology, behaviour support, counselling, physiotherapy, and finding and keeping a job.

What about employment?

While being diagnosed with ASD might affect how you approach a job, and what you need to work successfully in that job, there are supports to help you find a workplace that suits you.

Also, many of the strengths and skills associated with ASD are highly sought after by employers. At AimBig Employment, our focus is on achieving the best outcomes for all clients. We support people with disability to secure, maintain and thrive in meaningful work and have the connections and the experience to match the right people with the right opportunities.

An Introduction To Neurodiversity

Exceptional Individuals, a UK organisation, defines neurodiversity as the variation of cognitive functioning in humans. It says neurodiversity is an educational approach that accepts various neurological conditions – such as ADHD, autism, dyspraxia, and dyslexia – exist because of healthy changes in the human genome. Neurological variations are the same as any other human variation.

According to the US organisation Healthline, neurodiversity refers to the spectrum of neurodivergence in people. The spectrum includes those living with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, depression, dyslexia, schizophrenia, and intellectual disabilities.

People with neurological differences are referred to as being neurodivergent, which reflects the rich array of differences, abilities, and strengths they possess.

Neurodiverse conditions such as autism are seen as variations of human characteristics such as being left-handed or having brown hair – people who are neurodiverse just have a brain that works differently.

Neurodiverse people may have difficulty interacting with their peers, may have had noticeable speech delays as children, or experience sensory issues such as being unable to tolerate crowds, noise, or feeling too hot or too cold. At LiveBig, we can assess these needs and develop the right support to ensure our clients thrive in their new career.

Research shows that there are benefits to businesses that hire staff members who are neurodiverse.

“People on the spectrum often demonstrate trustworthiness, strong memories, reliability, adherence to rules and attention to detail. They are often good at coding – a skill in high demand,” the Training Industry states on their website.

Neurodiversity has many different forms and degrees – but also each individual has their own strengths and characteristics that make us who we are.

Some of the strengths associated with neurodiverse people might include:

  • An ability to “think outside the box”
  • An understanding of systems, including maths and computer programming
  • An ability to understand and play music
  • Above-average attention to detail
  • Strong visual-spatial skills

Neurodiversity Hub states that in 2018 about one in 70 Australians or almost 355,000 people, were autistic, according to an estimation by Autism Spectrum Australia.

In March 2018, 29 per cent of people actively participating in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) were autistic.

At LiveBig, we are a specialist allied health and assessment services provider for people with a disability, including people who are neurodiverse and people who are on an NDIS plan.

Supporting people with disability through the holidays

We spoke to George, a psychologist on the LiveBig team, about the challenges people with disability and their carers face over the holiday period, and some helpful strategies and tools to make the most out of Christmas.  

What are some challenges faced by people with disability and their carers in the holiday season?

The holiday season can create a variety of stressors for people with disability, and those that take care of them. Some challenges that must be acknowledged are:

Feeling more isolated

With businesses closing and not having regular appointments with their specialists, people with disability can feel more isolated during this time. In addition, friends and family who regularly check in may be busier, leading to negative emotions such as depression if someone is feeling more alone than their peers who are enjoying the festive season.

A new challenge this year has been COVID-19. Through the lockdowns and border closures, there are certain parts of Australia and the world that we cannot access, leading to loneliness during the festive season.

Travel planning

For carers or individuals with a disability, especially those with a physical disability, booking accommodation and making travel arrangements is especially stressful.

Heightened anxiety

Busy shopping centres, heightened foot traffic, and overcrowding are a variety of reasons why an individual with a disability can become increasingly anxious in the holiday season.

Pressure on carers

For the carers of people with disability, it’s a difficult time to manage expectations and emotions while preparing for their own holiday period. It is important to take these individuals into consideration, as there are less resources available and more pressure to ensure their dependants needs are met.

What are some strategies to help clients and carers manage this period?

There are a couple of key strategies that carers and people with disability can put in place to manage the expectations and needs of an individual with disability.

For carers, be mindful of your own mental health and watch for burnout. Everyone is different and reacts differently, so it’s important to identify the feelings leading up to burning out to look after your own health and reacting to these emotions by destressing. Help is always at hand, and it’s important for you to have fun and relax during this festive season. Here are a couple strategies to utilise:

Plan ahead

Ensuring that any holiday plans are thoroughly planned ahead is a great action plan when managing accommodation, travel, and the feelings of anxiety. For example, when organising transport, its important to take into consideration the accessibility requirements needed for the person with a disability, and to prebook modes of transportation such as taxi’s. Also, in seeking out accommodation, access ability and location within vicinity of activities and transport to parking must be considered. By planning ahead, you can research these elements, and when the day comes to travel, you can keep focused on the individual with a disability and manage emotions such as feeling overwhelmed.  

Safety plan

A safety plan should be made in case of any issues that could potentially occur, which is likely to happen when travel is involved. An idea could be to have a contact card or book made for the carer and person with disability to hold each other’s phone numbers and booked addresses if one were to lose the other or in the case of an emergency. For the carer, this may involve equipping the person with disability with food and water that is easily accessed.

For people with a disability, make sure you have some fun this holiday season. There are many ways to participate in the Christmas festivities. Have a great time by making time to:

Keep in touch with friends and family

To manage negative emotions or feelings of isolation, making regular plans to see family and friends is key. Reach out to trusted friends and family that you can contact easily and make plans on a regular basis that you can look forward to. This could be a simple get together with friends, or trying out a new activity with a family member, but the important aspect is engaging with people during this time.

A reminder to be COVID safe and mindful of social distancing during this period. If you are unable to see friends and family face-to-face over this period, organising regular phone or video calls and planning virtual activities is a great way to engage.

Practicing healthy habits

Creating a routine that incorporates healthy aspects, such as regular exercise, practicing mindfulness or eating something healthy, can help keep spirits high. Another great way to stay engaged and happy in the holiday period is to create your own celebrations and traditions over the holiday period. Why not cook a festive meal, create a decoration, or purchase an advent calendar?

Although safety and attending to the needs of the individual with a disability is paramount, it’s also important to participate in this festive season and have fun! Christmas may look different this year because of Covid-19, but utilising advice and strategies is a way to make Christmas more enjoyable.

LiveBig would like to wish our clients and their friends and family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See you in 2021!

Chronic Pain: How Psychology can help

What is chronic pain?

Pain is said to be chronic when it extends beyond the expected healing time of an injury and can accompany chronic illnesses such as arthritis or lupus (Pfizer Health Report, 2011; Stollznow Research for Pfizer Australia, 2010). It is typically described as pain that lasts for three months or longer. As many as one in three Australians (35%) experience chronic pain, with this number increasing to 49% in adults 65 and older. Chronic pain can have a significant societal burden; in 2018, the financial cost of chronic pain was estimated to be $139.3 billion (Pain Australia, 2019).

 

Impacts of chronic pain

Beyond physical pain, experiencing persistent pain can impact an individual’s social and psychological wellbeing.

Individuals with chronic pain can also experience:

  • Difficulty maintaining usual routine (ability to work or go to school)
  • Upset sleep
  • Appetite and nutrition issues
  • Social isolation and withdrawal from friends and family
  • Depression and anxiety

 

The role of psychology in pain management

Almost 87% of Australians experiencing chronic pain have limited awareness of how psychological treatment could help with the pain. However, those who have received psychological treatment view it as an essential part of their recovery.

There is strong evidence to show that psychology is effective in treating chronic pain. Psychology aims to change an individual’s relationship with their pain. Whilst this won’t get rid of the pain altogether, it can help individuals normalise and become less affected by their pain and hence live a better life.

Psychologists are experts in helping people cope with the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that accompany chronic pain. They can work with the individuals to improve sleep health, manage their ability to work and help maintain a balanced routine.

Cognitive based therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment for chronic pain. It aims to address unhelpful thinking and behavioural patterns so that the client can have more productive thoughts and behaviours that lead to reducing pain. Psychologists are good at helping people develop skills to help change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours, self-manage their symptoms over the long-term and overcome any barriers to recovery.

 

How LiveBig can help

Our sessions are based around getting to know you as a person and your experiences.

These can involve understanding what negative and unhelpful thoughts you may be having about your pain and how it has been impacting you. We will aim to identify coping strategies as well as building upon a more positive and helpful relationship towards yourself.

 

If you are interested in our Psychology services, get in touch today or phone 1300 390 222.

Insight into Occupational Therapy – OT Week

Watch LiveBig’s Occupational Therapist Jessica provide an insight into what occupational therapy is and how the small things in life can be therapeutic.

 

Interested in our Occupational Therapy services? CONTACT US >>

Meet our new LiveBig Team Member – Koeun, Physiotherapist

Can you outline your experience and background in physiotherapy? 

I have been practising physiotherapy for over six years with a demonstrated history of working within the private sector, the aged care sector, public health, corporate health and wellness, onsite injury prevention and occupational rehabilitation (including CTP and Workcover).

My interests within musculoskeletal physiotherapy have provided me with unique opportunities to work with national and multi-national clientele including Westpac, Toll Logistics, Australia Post, StarTrack, Spirit of Tasmania and Patricks Logistics.

I am excited to be a part of a growing company such as LiveBig, and I am looking forward to how I can make a positive impact on those involved within the NDIS.

What do you specialise in, and what is your approach to treatment?

My speciality lies within musculoskeletal physiotherapy which covers a very broad range of injuries and conditions. I have enjoyed the challenges that have come with corporate and onsite physiotherapy, and I am looking forward to the unique approach required with clients within the NDIS.

My treatment approach involves learning the unique needs and requirements of my clients, educating them about their condition and the treatment solutions available to them to manage their condition, and start their journey in regaining control and independence over their lives.

 

What inspired you to pursue a career in physiotherapy?

I chose to pursue a career in physiotherapy when my mum did not have access to the best information and treatment plan to manage her health conditions. I was deeply disappointed to learn these practices occur (then and even now), and I wanted to help make sure it does not happen to anyone else I care about.

 

What, in your opinion, are the most important qualities for a physiotherapist?

I believe communication, empathy, and building a trusting relationship with clients are important qualities within physiotherapy. I see my role as the physiotherapist to connect with my client, understand who they are and what makes them unique, and how I can help them make changes to their daily routine to improve their health and wellbeing and continue to live the life they enjoy.

 

How would you define a successful physiotherapist?

I believe a successful physiotherapist is one that adds value to your life and helps you continue to do what you love doing – whether it is learning about your injury and how to manage it, providing treatments or developing exercise programs to return to sports, or being a readily available point of contact for your clients when they need your advice for whatever obstacles and challenges life throws their way.

 

Has Coronavirus (COVID-19) changed the way you deliver your services, and what challenges have arisen?

COVID-19 has made the delivery of face-to-face physiotherapy consultations difficult as most of our physical assessments and treatments involve physical contact with our clients. As a result, I have been forced to be more vigilant in safe hygiene practices for myself and my clients and making modifications to the way I deliver manual treatment (e.g. shorter treatment times, telehealth assessments or program reviews).

 

Have you noticed any positives in your patients in the transition to telehealth during Coronavirus?

Since the introduction of telehealth services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have noticed that my clients are more accountable for their rehabilitation journey and are more proactive in their approach to recovery. Isolation has helped them to build more confidence to exercise at home during isolation and maintain their independence and wellbeing throughout this pandemic.

 

Would you like to learn more about LiveBig physiotherapy services? Contact us online or phone 1300 390 222.

 

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