Thanks for joining us in our Embark blogpost series, where we address some of our tips for supporting people with accessing the NDIS. Embark provides support to people in the Sydney Metropolitan area that are living with a mental health condition and experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness, to access the NDIS. [You can make a referral to our free service via: www.icla.org.au/embark/]
You can also get in touch for support – via Embark Upskill, we facilitate free workshops across NSW, open to anyone who wants to improve their confidence and understanding of the NDIS in order to support people with a mental illness to access the NDIS and obtain the supports they need. [Make an enquiry via: www.icla.org.au/embark/upskill]
NDIS access: Supporting someone with multiple disabilities
One challenge that people come across when applying for the NDIS is making an application when there is more than one disability or multiple health conditions to consider. In today’s post, we explore this topic and some of our advice for how best to manage these applications.
As our readers probably know, to access the NDIS, a person must have a disability because of one or more intellectual, cognitive, neurological, sensory or physical impairments or one or more impairments due to a mental health condition. If someone lives with multiple disabilities, however, the NDIA will consider all of these individually (as well as how they impact on each other), when deciding whether the person meets the disability requirements for each disability, and what supports are needed in their life.
If someone experiences functional impairments due to more than one disability, they will still need to demonstrate the impact of each on their day-to-day living, in terms of mobility, communication, social interaction, learning, self-care and self-management.
Take home message: a person can access the NDIS for multiple disabilities and it’s important to demonstrate and advocate for all the supports needed across all areas of the person’s life.
What to consider with multiple disabilities?
- The NDIS looks at each condition separately, to determine which one(s) result in a permanent disability, that substantially impacts the person day-to-day
- A person may meet NDIS access on one condition, but not another – if this happens, it is good news that they can start getting some supports in place with their NDIS plan, but
- You will also need to call or email the NDIA, to ask for a review of the plan to include the necessary supports around the second disability
- This is called a Review of a Reviewable Decision (or s100) – https://www.ndis.gov.au/participants/how-review-planning-decision
- Note you can continue to use the existing plan while waiting for the outcome of this decision.
- Many people who apply to access the NDIS will have multiple health conditions, some of which they will not get supports for from the NDIS – as these are often deemed the responsibility of ‘mainstream’ health services.
Psychosocial disability and other disabilities?
At Embark, we mainly focus on supporting people with a primary psychosocial disability. However, we are well aware that experiences of multiple disabilities are common, and people with other types of disability are more likely to experience psychosocial disability than the general population. This can be both challenging to identify, and to address.
Although the NDIA will request information about a person’s primary disability, they may not be aware of how a psychosocial disability affects their other disability(ies), or vice versa, or the impact both have on the person day-to-day.
You will need to show:
- How the primary and secondary disability interact
- Evidence of permanence for each disability
- Information about the impact that each disability has on the person, and,
- Any specialised services or skills needed to support the person around both disabilities.
Tips for Applications
- To complete the Access Request Form, you will need to first identify which disability has the most impact on the person’s day-to-day life, this is known as the ‘primary disability’
- Then add the second and third disabilities, underneath
- If psychosocial disability is the primary disability, you can fill out an Evidence of Psychosocial Disability Form to demonstrate the impact of both disabilities
- Make sure to also attach to the application: any reports or other medical evidence for the diagnosis related to the secondary disability, as well as the functional impact of that disability on the person’s life, as well as any supports they need (with details of hours of supports required, home modifications or capital needed)
- If psychosocial disability is not the primary disability, it is likely best to provide further evidence on the Access Request Form, on pages 13-28, with sign-off by a treating clinician – find the person most relevant to the primary disability
- You will also want a supporting letter (or consider also completing and attaching the Evidence of Psychosocial Disability Form) with sign-off from a treating psychiatrist, GP or psychologist, to also demonstrate the permanency and impact of the psychosocial disability on the person’s functioning
- Be sure to identify how the psychosocial disability compounds their experience and capacity to manage their other disability
- Don’t forget that you will still need to meet the eligibility requirements for each disability.
- NDIS disability requirements – https://www.ndis.gov.au/about-us/operational-guidelines/access-ndis-operational-guideline/access-ndis-disability-requirements
- NDIS conditions likely to meet requirements – https://www.ndis.gov.au/about-us/operational-guidelines/access-ndis-operational-guideline/list-conditions-which-are-likely-meet-disability-requirements-section-24-ndis-act
- Reimagine – when psychosocial disability is not your ‘primary’ disability – https://reimagine.today/apply-for-ndis-support/tips-when-psychosocial-disability-is-not-your-primary-disability/
- Transition support project – https://www.tspforall.com.au/clinicians
- Transition support project – FREE training on NDIS access and psychosocial disability for clinicians – https://www.tspforall.com.au/training/ps-disability-clinician/#/
- Villamanta – NDIS supports for people with complex or multiple disabilities – https://villamanta.org.au/news/ndis-supports-for-people-with-complex-or-multiple-disabilities/
Thanks again for joining us. Please be in touch with any questions or suggested topics for future content via firstname.lastname@example.org.
ICLA’s Embark program is funded by the NSW Ministry of Health to support people with a mental health condition who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness to access the NDIS.