Changes to the NDIS Independent Assessments

Funding and prosthetics | Dec 09th

In 2021 the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will be improving ways that people access the Scheme. The goal behind these changes is to make the NDIS simpler, easier to use and more consistent.
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Independent assessments create a complete picture of how you manage tasks and activities in your everyday life. How you do things like school or work, or take part in your community.

An independent assessment will mean that you don’t need to organise an assessment or collect evidence to show the impact of your disability. This new process will save you time and money. Independent assessments will mean you have quick access to internationally recognised tools and qualified health professionals no matter where you live, or what your circumstances are.

From mid 2021: independent assessments will also be required as part of the plan review process. This is part of a new approach to planning that will mean plan reviews are based on life stages, instead of a year or two.

Independent assessments are common, streamlined approaches used by many funding bodies, in fact organisations like Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission (TAC) have been using them for years.

For a person with disability, functional capacity is a positive way in determining eligibility for the NDIS, as well as to get an indication of the kinds of supports that will benefit you the most. Instead of focussing on everything that is “wrong” with the person and what they can’t do, a functional assessment captures information about what they can do. Functional capacity is the ability to be involved in different areas of life like home, school, work and the community and to carry out tasks and actions. It takes into account other factors in a person’s environment that may impact day to day life. Some examples of questions that might be asked by trained allied health professionals using the validated assessment tools include:

How much difficulty do you have in:

  • Standing for long periods such as 30 minutes?
  • Getting into and out of your home?
  • Walking a long distance such as a kilometre?
  • Washing your whole body?
  • Taking care of your household responsibilities?
  • Joining in community activities?

In these examples, the person being assessed is able to answer with “none, mild, moderate, severe or extreme / cannot do” and then may be asked to provide further information or examples.

How will the Independent Assessment approach make things better?

Independent Assessment approach will:

  • lead to more consistency in decision making when people request access to the NDIS and in the planning process,
  • make the process fairer and more equal by removing the financial burden on potential participants to provide the information required;
  • take into account how a person’s functional capacity is influenced by their environment, their health and other individual factors, not just their disability;
  • introduce an assessment process that recognises that a particular condition or disability does not necessarily have the same impact on everyone,
  • shift towards a whole of person assessment; and
  • focus on function rather than diagnosis.

Some people have expressed concerns over privacy with these assessments. The nature of the interview-based assessments mean that the person is able to provide as much information as they are comfortable in doing. They have control over what they share.

Others have stated they feel the assessments will be used to kick people out of the scheme, or will be used to reduce their funding. The NDIS is a world leading scheme that is the first of its kind. After years of lobbying from the disability community, the Australian Government has established a single national scheme that focusses on enabling people with disability to maximise their independence and build their capacity to achieve their goals with reasonable and necessary supports. This once in a generation reform is enabling many people with disability to receive supports for the first time ever. It is not a welfare system, and so of course there are checks and balances in the overall process to make sure that the valuable taxpayer money goes to those who need it most, and that people get the level of supports most appropriate for them. Everyone’s needs are different, even those with the same disability, and these independent assessments will help identify how best to meet those individual needs.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) are committed to working with participants, their families and carers, peak bodies, disability organisations and peer and family networks to make sure they work effectively for participants.

To find out more about this process you can visit the Frequently Asked Questions section of the NDIS website, call the NDIS on 1800 800 110 or contact Limbs 4 Life for more information.

Have your say!

Limbs 4 Life will be providing feedback to the Agency, so if you have any thoughts about the Independent Assessment process please share those with us today, so that we can share them with the Agency.