Is it reasonable for a 28 year old to want to drive a car; to be independent? Yes, no debate necessary yet Emily was denied NDIS funding for car modifications allowing her to drive independently. Why? My question is – NDIS What’s reasonable ?
NDIS What’s reasonable
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) declined Emily’s application for car modifications reasoning that driving would not reduce Emily’s care needs. But what criteria are being used and what outcomes are considered by the NDIA for this decision?
Emily has a complete spinal cord injury at C5 rendering her paralysed from her shoulders down – permanently. There will not be any reduction in Emily’s care requirements until innovations of the future give Emily the hope of recovery or improvement allowing for more movement and subsequent independence with reduced care needs.
If the NDIA uses the criteria – funds allocated must reduce the clients care requirements – then Emily will never receive a penny as her requirements are as fixed and static as her permanent spinal cord Injury. That’s not reasonable until we consider it obversely……
As a quadriplegic she can’t regulate her temperature so waiting for buses in winter lowers her core temperature so that she becomes hypothermic quickly and the reverse in warm weather as she can’t sweat. Driving would keep Emily healthier as less exposure to hypothermic / hyperthermic conditions especially when sitting waiting in drenching cold rain. Therefore driving and the resulting benefits of keeping Emily healthier reduces her care costs and burden as she will remain out of hospital and require fewer treatments and medications.
Emily is perfectly considered in her thinking it would be healthier for her to drive.
- Driving would lessen the strain, and risk of injury, on her shoulders from manoeuvring her heavy wheelchair long distances, finding and negotiating curb cuts.
- Emily would be protected from the rigorous climate as when unregulated her fluctuating body temperature induces physical pain and spasms.
- Driving offers safe transport for a vulnerable person.
- A modified car enables Emily to integrate into society as a full time contributor without exacerbating any health issues or exacerbating the disadvantages and discriminating that she faces in every area of life as a differently-abled person.
NDIS What’s reasonable
Is there a higher goal than a C5 quadriplegic driving an adapted car to work? As a social worker, Emily is aiming to contribute towards the rehabilitation of trauma patients, a job in which she has the experience and empathy to excel. Emily may lack the muscle power to manage independent washing and dressing but she is perfectly capable of working and contributing to society. Refusing to fund modifications to a car is woeful for a quadriplegic who shows fortitude and stoic resilience while opting into society. But is it the National Disability Insurance System or the rubber stampers within it?
What does anyone gain? Only government politicians who can stand on their soap-box and shout about a system that offers choice and opportunity while Emily (and others) get nothing progressive.
Politicians led the voters to believe the NDIS offered people with disabilities choice and the opportunity to request reasonable funding towards life goals BUT the funding knock backs push the differently-abled into disillusionment, while the family carers take up the slack and work to fill the widening gaps.
- The NDIS have to fully understand the continuous needs of individuals with permanent disabilities such as a spinal cord injury.
- I question what outcomes are measured? Reasonable goals with outcomes of purposeful work, social interaction and improved health and wellbeing can reduce care demands as they result in less hospitalisation due to improved physical and mental health.
- I question the criteria used to quantify reduced care needs? Because increased health and fitness leading to less illness/complications will reduce care needs in terms of secondary care in hospital due to SCI killers like pneumonia, pulmonary emboli and septicemia. (1)
The reasoning the NDIS used for not funding Emily’s car modifications can be used to fully support her application.
The differently-abled want to interact in their communities as productive members of society. Emily may be paralysed but there is purpose, worth and merit in her life.
- She seeks funding to enable her to contribute to the workforce.
- She aims to cut her care needs by being proactive in preventing any ill-health…….that’s reasonable and worthy of support.
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