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]
Writing Effective Supporting Letters
Who Can Write Them?
How To Write Them?
The Importance Of Language!
Supporting letters can be extremely useful to submit with an NDIS application – We try to use them as often as we can here at Embark.
Firstly, contrary to common belief, you do not need to be a clinician to write a supporting letter. Support letters can be written by a support worker, guardian, friend, family member, or anyone who knows the individuals circumstances and would like to support the application. In saying this, supporting letters from people like psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, and other treating clinicians are going to be especially useful! It’s important to remember that a supporting letter is there for one cause – to support! Therefore, we don’t need to come from any sort of medical background in order for our letter to add weight to our application. To me, supporting letters are a fantastic tool and resource to show that the application is further backed by individuals in the community, and they further evidence the ‘real examples’ of how an individual may require NDIS funded supports.
Structuring a supporting letter can be done in a multitude of ways, and there isn’t one set ‘template’ or ‘structure’ that will necessarily get your message across. However, Embark have developed a great resource that acts as a guide and breaks down some crucial parts in compiling a supporting letter/statement. This is broken down into 3 main parts –
- Introduction – The introduction should outline who you are, how long you have known the individual, and that you agree that this persons functional impairments caused by their disability leave them requiring NDIS funded supports for the remainder of their lifetime.
- Functional impairments – The NDIS requires functional impairments in one or more of the 6 domains of Mobility, Communication, Learning, Self-Care, Self-Management, & Social Interaction. Now, supporting and aligning functional impairment to one or more of these categories can be a little confusing – Though one great resource to use is the providing evidence of disability matrix here –
- Conclusion and treatments – You will also need to evidence what treatments have been tried and tested, and which treatments the person is currently engaging with. Importantly you want to emphasize that there are no other known, accessible, and suitable treatments that would remedy the impairments they experiences. You want to say something like, “despite ongoing treatment, John continues to experience significant impairments in every area of his day-to-day life etc. As another note, if someone has not engaged in a certain kind of treatment, but there are disability related barriers that prevent them from engaging in that treatment without support, it’s important that you say this! For example, if someone has been unable to engage in talk therapy, But they do not have the capacity to arrange the appointments, or to access and meaningfully engage in this treatment without support, it’s important that this is clearly stated.
The importance of language when writing a supporting letter for someone that you are supporting to access the NDIS is key! The NDIS act and disability requirements cover many things, though the most important terms and phrases are shown below –
Try and relate back to these deficit based terms and phrases when structuring a supporting letter – Remember, these phrases are taken directly out of the eligibility requirements that the NDIS have outlined, so the more we can refer back to these phrases, the more impactful they will be!
Lastly, Embark have created a great resource and supporting letter template that is a great guide here, and will hopefully assist you all along the NDIS access journey! These templates (along with a lot more useful information) can be found on our resources page here.
Thanks again for joining us. Please be in touch with any questions or suggested topics for future content via email@example.com.
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.