Why Telehealth May Be the Best Choice for Your NDIS Plan

Although face-to-face services have been the norm, the introduction of telehealth means more efficient services and participants are at the centre of their healthcare decisions.

There is a misconception that telehealth is not the same standard of service, and participants choose face-to-face services. Both services offer people with disability excellent Allied Health support, but for some people, their current requirements may be more suited to telehealth.

Telehealth and face to face services both can deliver positive outcomes, and in some situations, telehealth may be better suited to a client. A recent survey from The University of Melbourne (in collaboration with the National Disability Insurance Agency) found that 63% of 2391 participants have been able to successfully receive support and move their NDIS-funded allied healthcare services to telehealth. Moreover, 11-13% believed remotely delivered consultations were better than being in-person, and 31-33% indicated they were likely to choose to use such services after the pandemic.

This begs the question – when is telehealth the better choice for accessing NDIS therapy services?

 

“I need more flexibility in my services”

A great benefit to choosing telehealth is flexibility. The clinician and participant can set up a schedule that suits them both, which can be delivered to the participant in the comfort of their own home. In addition, since there are no travel requirements, attending appointments is easier and can meet the requirements of the participant.

 

“I have trouble accessing resources”

There are a variety of barriers for people with disability when it comes to accessing services. The great thing about telehealth is that services can be accessed over phone or computer, meaning that there is reduced travel, expense, and time away from home. Telehealth removes the need for carers to take time off work and studies or hiring a support person to make appointments.

Telehealth is a great way to access more resources and make the most out of therapy as clinicians are able to pre-record strategies to be tailored for each participant. This ensures participants are not missing out, that services can be accessed any time and that the participant can manage their own time.

 

“I am worried for my safety and health in the ongoing pandemic”

It is understandable that participants may be nervous about accessing services face-to-face as the pandemic continues.   This doesn’t make the most sense to me as it’s more about the benefits to gov/healthcare in general. Maybe that is enables physical distancing by reducing face-to-face contact and limiting movement of people?

 

“I want to make the most out of my NDIS funding”

Telehealth is the same hourly rate as the NDIS price guide, however, there is no travel involved. This means that there are no travel charges and therefore budgeted hours/funding can be utilised more for the services.

In addition, Clinicians only charge for time spent especially when sessions can be shortened. For example, when a session has gone for 30mins or 45mins, our LiveBig system automatically calculates the time spent only from the hourly rate.

 

We spoke to our Business Development Manager Maria about LiveBig’s telehealth services and how it suits client requirements. 

“Telehealth sessions have the potential to achieve best outcomes for the participant’s goals. It’s an interactive and easily manageable method of service delivery that LiveBig has had great success with.

Some participants work  better online than face to face especially when participants enjoy computers and technology. In this current climate of the pandemic with surging case numbers, accessing therapy services via Telehealth could provide safety and less exposure. 

Telehealth is a great way to access therapy services for people that are looking for a more flexible, accessible and safe way to have their services delivered.”

 

If you or a loved one with disability is looking to access telehealth for NDIS therapy services, please fill out an enquiry form. 

LiveBig Customer Experience Survey – Results

We also love feedback as it helps us learn about what we do well so we can continue doing it and help us adjust how we operate our services to provide a better service to our clients.

Recently, we sent out a survey to our clients, their carers and referrers to gain an understanding of their experiences with LiveBig and we’d like to share the results.

We asked people to rate LiveBig in responsiveness and quality and we are pleased to say that overall, we are doing well.   

Highlights

  • 85% of respondents would recommend LiveBig services to others
  • 84% rated us as being very responsive
  • 86% were satisfied with our service quality

Some of the positive responses we received from clients and carers were:

  • “LiveBig providers are very flexible and responsive to disability needs.”
  • “I was so impressed with how efficient and thorough the OT was that handled my request.”
  • “You are the only provider that got back to me.”
  • “Clear, concise and immediate.”
  • “LiveBig’s service quality is very satisfying, the workers are very skilled, they have many good qualities.”

We also received feedback on areas for improvement, which we always welcome, as it helps us to service our clients better. We will work through the suggestions and bring more information to you in the future on what we have done to improve our service and processes.

Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey as we know how busy you are! Please know that you do not have to wait until the next survey to tell us what you think about our services. Simply drop us feedback via our website, send us an email [email protected] or call 1300 390 222.

NDIS Release Discussion Paper on Support Coordination and Call for Feedback

This paper forms the basis of a review of the support coordination service model. The purpose of the NDIA conducting this review is to start a process to better understand support service design issues and to shape the future of support coordination services to deliver the best outcomes for participants.

The announcement of this review means that the NDIA seeks to review how NDIS participants receive support coordination services, with several questions being asked to participants to effectively review the services.

The key points from the paper are as follows:

  • Developing a better understanding of the Support Coordinator role
    The role of a support coordinator is not always clear to providers, participants, families, support coordinators and even the NDIA itself. The review looks to improve this by clarifying job roles and functions. While support coordination is a different service to plan management, there could be synergies between the two positions that are yet to be explored. The NDIA is interested in better understanding the benefits and risks of more closely aligning these supports and how that might happen.
  • Focus on participant experience
    The feedback from participants to date is that the NDIA must encourage the development of apps, tools and marketplaces that help participants connect and interact with relevant providers. NDIA must also ensure that participants receive support in critical areas such as achieving employment goals, identifying and location-relevant accommodation options and supporting the participant during key life stages.
  • Value for money: Quality of support coordination
    The NDIA is considering how to better align the price of support coordination with participant outcomes and the price of other scheme supports, which implies that the NDIA is exploring a reduction in the price of support coordination. For example, support coordination pricing could be determined (at least in part) based on the progression and achievement of a participant’s specific goals, such as sourcing appropriate accommodation or employment opportunities. 

Here are the current numbers for funding across different age groups and disabilities.

Support coordination by Age Group, as at 30 June 2020

support-coordination-graph-1

 

Support coordination by disability type, as at 30 June 2020

support-coordination-graph-2

The data in shows the highest proportion of participants by disability type that receive funding for support coordination are psychosocial disability (84%), Acquired Brain Injury (76%), other neurological (63%) and stroke (63%). Participants with global developmental delay (10%) and developmental delay (7%) proportionally receive less support coordination funding.

This discussion paper provided a unique insight into the inconsistencies in support coordination services participants are receiving, focusing on the areas that need improvement.

For more information, including how to respond to the paper follow this link: https://www.ndis.gov.au/community/have-your-say/support-coordination.

LiveBig Success at Virtual Disability Expo

The Virtual Disability Expo was a fantastic opportunity for people with disability, their families and carers to connect with a variety of disability service providers and obtain helpful information from the comfort and safety of their own home. 

LiveBig was thrilled to participate as a silver sponsor, meeting with many booth visitors and having many conversations about our therapy services which include psychology, speech pathology, exercise physiology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. Our virtual booth had an engaging atmosphere over the two-day event with a range of informative and interactive features. Stephanie, our team member who attended the event, was available for video chats, text, and personal messages in real-time. LiveBig spoke to many people, including clients, families, support coordinators, and NDIS providers regarding the services we provide.  The range of information and interactive features saw us receive 236 booth visits with 29 direct requests for more information. 

Stephanie said: “ This expo has been a huge success. I am really excited by the turnout, the number of people that I have spoken with and the relationships I have formed with clients, families and support coordinators. The expo functions, which included chats and zoom meetings, was beneficial to all as we had so many questions about our telehealth services, especially from people in the Victoria region”.

At LiveBig, we will always adapt our service delivery processes to overcome any challenges that may arise during Coronavirus. Our number one priority is to continue to safely meet the needs of our clients, no matter the circumstances. We are grateful that events like these enable us to connect and help people from the safety of their homes. 

Purchasing Low-Cost Assistive Technology Devices During COVID-19

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.

Parents – Our Unsung Heroes

jessica-suh“Parents are the unsung heroes for me,” she said. “I couldn’t do my work without them.”

“With so many now working and doing school from home, parents of children with disabilities are also finding themselves in the
role of therapy assistant, as they translate, demonstrate and prompt for the virtual therapist on the other side of a teleconsulting screen.

“Our therapists are well-practised at supporting parents with short, simple instructions, because this is a standard part of the therapy routine. For example, guiding the parent through how to grade the support when approaching a task:

  • Use a keyword, e.g. open
  • Now try guiding with hand over hand, e.g. guide one hand to body of marker and the other to the lid
  • Assist to help pull off the lid if you need to.”

And although they’ve always been a key participant, Jessica is finding parents can develop a deeper level of practical skill as they take on a more active role. This often happens unconsciously. Parents might automatically start to model teeth brushing in the morning, for example, especially while there’s a bit less time pressure.

“It’s so important to highlight these achievements because parents can overlook how much they contribute to their child’s journey of acquiring and maintaining new skills.”

With routines now flipped inside out, Jessica acknowledges life under lockdown has thrown some significant challenges to parents. Here are some activities she’s suggesting to clients who need sensory seeking alternatives to their pre-pandemic life.

  • Get out the chalk and do a drawing on the driveway or footpath
  • Blow up some balloons for a game of balloon volleyball
  • Use your watercolour paints to create a window drawing of a rainbow
  • Find a rope and do some jump rope games with the whole family

The Upside of Teleconsulting – a Practitioner’s Perspective

cheryl-prasad“I can see my clients are often more relaxed”, she said. “Normally I visit them at home, which is great, but it comes with its challenges. Especially when we have to consider the house is a shared space for siblings.”

Cheryl senses that parents don’t feel so much pressure when they know the therapist won’t be knocking at the front door and spending time in their private space.

“A lot of the kids and their parents also really like the fact it feels like an extension of school,” she said.

“With lots of schools having switched to online learning during the lockdown, kids are already at the computer or on the iPad, so we see a relatively easy transition to a therapy session. In some ways, I think it’s contributing to normalising the experience, which is an unexpected bonus.”

Cheryl uses a range of visual tools and games in her speech pathology sessions and is finding that kids respond positively to the aids and props in her digital kit because they’re so vivid and compelling. Interactive PowerPoints have been a big hit too.

“I’m enjoying exploring new and different ways to engage my clients, but the therapy fundamentals remain the same.

“We’re managing and responding to our clients just like we always did – looking for body language that will tell us it’s time for a movement break or recognising when we’ve worn them out because response time has really slowed down.”

For Cheryl, it also means less time on the road and more time with clients, doing what she loves.

“Although I do have to force myself to leave the house every day at lunchtime and go for a walk, just to try and keep things a bit normal,” she said.

Here are some online resources that Cheryl has been using with clients:

Services Now Available Through RMReach Telehealth Platform

What is the RMReach telehealth platform?

The RMReach telehealth platform is a user-friendly, digital application which allows LiveBig qualified consultants to provide remote assessments, therapy and training services across Australia. Our goal is to ensure that vital therapy services continue – helping you, your family member or your client to achieve goals at a time and location that suits you.

The RMReach telehealth platform enables suitable service delivery, webinars, training, video demonstrations and virtual meetings through an easy-to-use online video conferencing and meeting application, Lifesize.

In the current environment where people are limiting face-to-face contact or for people in remote locations, the RMReach telehealth platform is an ideal digital, value-for-money alternative. Efficient and effective communication between therapists, people with disability and their support network has never been easier.

The RMReach telehealth platform can help you with:

  • Structured language and speech support
  • Reading and writing
  • Sensory integration
  • Individual capacity building
  • Social and conversation skills
  • Mealtime review assessments
  • Training and coaching for careers and support staff
  • Functional Assessments
  • Housing Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) and Supported Independent Living (SIL) Assessments
  • Assistive Technology
  • Home Modifications advice

Does it work?

Our telehealth consultations have been a real hit. We continue to receive positive feedback from participants, parents and carers, who tell us the continuation of therapy through these difficult times is particularly helpful for maintaining skills and supporting resilience.

Is it suitable for me?

We recognise that telehealth isn’t always a suitable replacement for hands-on treatment and may not be appropriate for everyone. However, it’s essential to continue with therapy wherever possible. That’s why we work with each client to understand their telehealth preferences, review confidentiality issues and confirm accessibility to make sure the service is suitable.

Telehealth is an effective means of continuing therapy services and is recommended by the following highly recognised industry organisations:

  • National Disability Insurance Agency
  • Allied Health Professionals Australia
  • Occupational Therapy Australia
  • Australian Psychological Society
  • Dieticians Association of Australia
  • Speech Pathology Australia

How do I access the RMReach telehealth platform?

When booking appointments, your consultant will give you access to the RMReach telehealth platform via Lifesize and provide you with the necessary support to get connected. All you need is an internet connection and a phone, tablet or PC. The environment for your consultation should be set up similarly to the room you would normally use to meet your therapist. For longer-term therapy programs, LiveBig will assist with device access where possible.

What are the benefits?

  • Easy to use, feature-rich online application accessible from multiple devices (phone, tablet and PC)
  • Secure, real-time screen and content sharing
  • Reduced travel costs
  • Broad coverage for regional and remote areas
  • Greater accessibility and convenience for clients
  • Increased service frequency
  • More efficient service delivery time frames (leading to reduced duration of sessions)
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