NDIS is atrocious in it’s bureaucracy

Having initially been delighted with the ideology of client centred funding, our experience is revealing the NDIS is atrocious in it’s bureaucracy.

NDIS is atrocious in it's bureaucracy

In July 2016 the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) rolled out in our region of NSW, Australia. Emily met the eligibility criteria and thus her initial plan would be based on her established care package. We set about transcribing her existing package into goals and aspirations that the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) would consider reasonable to fund.

After some months on the waiting list the NDIS planning meeting took place to appraise our gathered paperwork. On the 11th September Emily received a letter that laid out her funded plan.

NDIS is atrocious in it’s bureaucracy

Emily’s plan was dismal to say the least, for example, she didn’t receive funding for any physiotherapy sessions. Since Emily’s accident in 2012, she has been using some of her allocated funding for physio, with the goal of working towards unassisted transfers and increased independent living.  Her existing funding was eroded with many activities rescinded even though they were justified and previously supported. In addition very little funding was allocated towards equipment repairs which tend to be expensive.

Everyone has the opportunity to appeal regarding their NDIS plan so Emily applied for a review with additional paperwork, O.T. referrals and further justification documents from Emily’s Rehab Consultant. Currently it’s April 2017 and there’s still no determination on the review regarding Emily’s physiotherapy funding so she has had to suspend her activities as she awaits a conclusion.

If the above contact with the NDIA strikes as being tardy in it’s delivery I have to reveal another atrocity within the NDIS. I’ll set the scene with one word – bureaucracy. Here’s our experience:

NDIS is atrocious in it's bureaucracyEmily’s wheelchair assist battery died rendering her immobile as she hasn’t the strength to push herself in a manual chair without the wheels battery powered assistance.  Emily obtained a quote for the repairs with the hope of having the cost approved and giving the repair company the go ahead to directly access her funding.  However, Emily’s budget was insufficient to cover these minor repairs. The NDIA personnel informed Emily that submitting a review requesting additional funding for the repairs was her only option. Here is where the issue lies, the NDIA can’t tell you how long reviews will take but currently the process is taking approx. 12 weeks or more – as we’ve experienced regarding physiotherapy funding it can often take much longer. Nothing can be retrospectively funded or reimbursed, clients are obligated to wait for the reviews conclusion.NDIS is atrocious in it's bureaucracyIn the past Enable (a government funded agency) was totally responsible for Emily’s essential equipment (powered bed, commode, wheelchair and hoist). If a repair or replacement was required Emily contacted Enable who organised the work quickly and efficiently allowing Emily to confidently continue with her commitments. However now because the NDIA did not allocate sufficient funds for repairs Emily must apply for an urgent review to authorise extra funding for the repair service. I am appalled that Emily could be immobilised for months waiting for a decision on an essential repair on an existing piece of equipment pivotal to her accessing society and central to her ability to live her life. It is debilitating for her and impairs her in her commitment to work and study, waiting for repairs renders her impotent in her capability to be independent, fit and social.

NDIS is atrocious in it’s bureaucracy

There are basic flaws in this bureaucratic NDIS as we have found funding to be woefully inadequate, the paperwork is laborious with repeated review cycles that are exceptionally slow for people striving to live independently. The system is amplifying Emily’s disparity in society NOT enabling her.

Emily is frustrated in regard to her reduced mobility and her deteriorating strength due to the abandoned physiotherapy sessions. The family has stepped up to provide home exercise sessions but we lack the equipment and time.  Simply put  – the NDIS is atrocious in it’s delivery of services for people with disabilities seeking independence, inclusion and social interface. To date Emily has filled in more review forms than I can quantify, NDIS personnel give advise that is variable and the outcome funding is paltry which initiates further applications for financial review.

The ultimate challenge in the NDIS funding plan is foreseeing what repairs and replacements will be required in a calendar year then asking for substantial funds presumptively in this category that would be scrutinised by the NDIS probably unfavourably BUT expensive equipment is expensive to maintain. Without ample funds in her plan how can Emily ensure the seamless repair or replacement of essential equipment that ensures she is independent, fit and functional in society, she doesn’t want a financial review for every repair, she needs proper funding allocated to suffice for her annual demands.

The NDIS has much to learn about the expense of essential support to people with disabilities and the NDIS have to be more inclined at actually funding clients otherwise all the money is trapped in the bureaucratic cycle of review and Emily is trapped without a working wheelchair.

NDIS is atrocious in it's bureaucracy

Read more about The Benefits of Aquatic Physiotherapy

Fitness after SCI

Independence after SCI

Please share to raise awareness as I advocate for improvement in the NDIS.