If your child or any other member of your family has a NDIS plan you may be wondering about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on participants’ plans and interactions with service providers.
As the outbreak evolves, so does the NDIA’s response and they are regularly updating their website with the latest information, guides and a very useful FAQ. Below is just some of the information from the NDIS website (correct as of today’s publication date – Tuesday 17 March, 2020) we think you might find useful. We strongly advise keeping an eye on the official website to see how advice and the official response changes as the Australian reaction to the virus scales.
If you are an NDIS participant and you are concerned about your exposure to coronavirus, the Department of Health has a specific hotline to respond to your enquiries; you can call – 1800 020 080 (24 hours a day, seven days a week).
If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can use the National Relay Service to access any of the department’s listed phone numbers.
You can visit the National Relay Service website or call 1300 555 727. If you need translation and/or interpretation support, Translating and Interpreting Services are offered by the Australian Government on the https://www.tisnational.gov.au/.
According to the NDIS website, the number of face-to-face meetings with NDIS participants is being reduced in line with the Australian Government’s advice in the coronavirus (COVID-19) national health response plan.
Participants, families and carers can request alternatives to face-to-face meetings, if participants are concerned about their exposure to respiratory illness.
Both scheduled plan reviews and first plan meetings can be completed over the phone, if:
- the participant would prefer not to have a face-to-face meeting
- the participant has recently returned from overseas, or
- has come in contact with someone affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you have questions or require advice, you can contact the NDIS Contact Centre on 1800 800 110.
Some NDIS Frequently Ask Questions (from the NDIS website)
Managing your plan & budget
Can my funding be used to pay support workers to do important tasks such as grocery shopping?
We encourage providers to give you the essential support you need so you remain safe and have adequate supplies. This means your provider may need to do some different tasks for you, like visiting the pharmacy to ensure you have an adequate supply of medication, or doing some grocery shopping for you.
If Schools, ADEs and Day Programs are shut, will I be able to redirect this funding for supports at home?
During this time, we encourage you to use your Core Supports budget flexibly to ensure you get the support you need.
The NDIA is collaborating with Department of Social Services (DSS), Services Australia and NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NQSC) as well as health agencies to ensure participants receive the support they need and remain safe.
Can I redirect my funds to family or friends to provide support that would normally be provided by support workers?
No, at this time, you cannot use your NDIS funds to pay a family member to provide you with support.
My provider can’t deliver services – how do I make sure I’m not charged?
You are encouraged to talk with your provider about why they are unable to deliver services. Providers will generally be looking to provide continuity of support to participants, noting that this is a condition of registration for registered providers.
It may be possible to negotiate with your provider to make arrangements that will enable you to receive the essential support you need so you remain safe and have adequate supplies.
If you are concerned you have been charged for a service that is not aligned to an arrangement to which you have consented, firstly, speak to the provider directly or to your Support Coordinator if you have one.
If you need additional advice, contact the NDIS Contact Centre on 1800 800 110.
Will I be able to rollover my plan without a plan review meeting?
Participants who are due for a scheduled plan review and have a current plan that meets their needs will be offered a renewal of their current plan budget for up to 24 months. The length of the plan will depend on the participant’s needs and their situation. This will mean they will able to get a new plan without having to have a face-to-face meeting.
My support worker has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). What happens now?
All Australians, including NDIS participants, who are concerned about their exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19), can contact the Department of Health specific hotline on 1800 020 080.
If you have been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case of coronavirus, you must follow health advice first. After contacting the Department of Health you may need to call your provider or your Support Coordinator to work out alternate arrangements.
Should support workers be wearing masks?
It is not necessary to ask your support workers to wear face masks if they do not have a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19). Surgical masks in the community are only helpful in preventing people who have coronavirus (COVID-19) from spreading it to others. If you are well and your support worker is well, you do not need to wear surgical masks as there is little evidence supporting the widespread use of surgical masks in healthy people to prevent transmission in public.
For more questions and answers plus an easy read guide on the Coronavirus which may assist you to have conversations with your child visit www.ndis.gov.au/understanding/ndis-and-other-government-services/ndis-and-disaster-response