We hear this question a lot in the Source Kids community! The team at Leap in! gives us some insight and tips.
Let’s explore the types of sensory equipment the NDIS may fund and how to buy sensory items online.
Types of sensory equipment
Sensory equipment is a broad term that can include just about any item that can help a person to develop life skills or motor skills and enrich the five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste.
It can include everyday items such as puzzles, specially designed toys or games, tools that support regulation or improve focus and resources that build functional skills.
Sensory equipment and the NDIS
Guidelines for when the NDIS will fund sensory equipment can be a little confusing but it helps to know the types of things the NDIS looks at when deciding if supports
As with any NDIS funded support, it must be related to the participant’s disability and considered “reasonable and necessary”. There also needs to be evidence that
shows the item:
• Is value for money
• Is likely to be effective and beneficial
• Provides better support than other options more commonly available.
Value for money
The NDIS will also take into account whether the item is value for money. Sensory items such as swings, trampolines and splash pools may be available in the community and therefore may be deemed not good value for money when it comes to NDIS funding.
Effective and beneficial
For therapeutic supports, there must be evidence that the support is likely to achieve the desired outcome such as through formal or peer-reviewed research. The NDIS will not fund a therapeutic support where research indicates it may not be beneficial or may be harmful such as weighted blankets for children under the age of 6.
Demonstrating an item is effective for the participant may require an individual trial, accompanied by a written report from a therapist.
If the purchase meets the above criteria, and costs less than $1500, you may be able to purchase low cost sensory equipment with the Assistive Technology or Consumables budgets in an NDIS Plan.
For items over $1500, you’ll need to obtain a quote and forward it to the NDIS for approval prior to purchase.
High risk sensory equipment
The NDIS classifies several items as “high risk”. High risk items are items that may cause harm if they are not the correct or ‘best fit’. This means they cannot be purchased using NDIS funds without prior approval even when they cost less than $1500.
High risk items require an occupational therapy risk assessment or prescription be completed and forwarded to the NDIS with recommendations of why the item is suitable and how it will help you achieve your goals or needs. If the item is approved, the funds may be allocated as a stated item in your Assistive Technology budget (meaning it can only be used for this item) or approval given for you to use your Core > Consumables funds, depending on the cost.
HIGH RISK ITEMS INCLUDE:
• Weighted blankets
• Body socks
How to purchase sensory items
The process for purchasing sensory items depends on how you have chosen to manage your NDIS Plan.
If you are Agency managed, you can only purchase from NDIS registered providers and the NDIS will pay your provider directly.
If you self-manage, you can purchase the item from the provider of your choice and claim the payment from the NDIS.
If you are plan managed, you can purchase the item from the provider of your choice and your plan manager will pay your provider after receiving an invoice.
TIPS: PURCHASING SENSORY EQUIPMENT ONLINE
Ask for recommendations from your family or friends or check reviews prior to purchasing from a new provider, especially if they are online.
If you are Agency managed, check the provider is NDIS registered – some providers are only registered in some states.
If you are Agency managed or plan managed, you may need to complete a service agreement prior to purchase (some providers have standard service agreements on their website).
Check the return and refund policy prior to purchase.