Tips and Support
Therapy is a powerful support to achieve your goals and make big improvements in your life under the NDIS. Below are some examples of how therapy can support you to get the most from your NDIS plan. For some examples we’ve included case studies designed illustrate how this looks in practice. Due to privacy we have changed the names and the identifying details but the case studies are accurate depictions of how therapy can support you to reach your goals.
1. Pre Planning:
Therapy can help you dream big and explore what is possible.
Knowing your abilities is just as important as knowing your limitations. A therapist can assess your potential and knowing your potential can help you dream big. This will assist you when having a conversation with your NDIA planner.
Alex is 25 and has an intellectual disability. Before he met his NDIA planner he was attending a day program three times a week and supported employment twice a week. He was happy with his week but had been doing the same things since he was 18 years. His NDIA planner discussed with Alex the possibility of him spending some time exploring his community and doing some different activities.
Alex and his planner knew that ‘doing different things’ was a great goal but they didn’t know what this would look like. His planner suggested an assessment with an occupational therapist to provide an opinion about Alex’s abilities and areas that he could work on.
The occupational therapist and Alex did a range of activities together such as bike riding, crossing busy roads, travelling on the bus, ordering food in a café, using the ATM and talking to unfamiliar people. After spending about 6 hours together Alex had a much clearer idea about what activities and locations he liked and didn’t like, where he felt confident, and what he wanted to do more of. He loved the challenge of getting to places on the bus but felt he wasn’t quite ready to spend time with people he didn’t know. Alex set the goal of travelling to day program and work on the bus.
The OT has met a group of people that fish off the pier every Saturday. The group told the OT that sometimes they sit beside each other for hours without saying much, taking in the view. They have invited Alex to join them. Alex feels confident to give it a try if the OT introduces him to the group next Saturday.
2. Therapy can turn your goal into reality
A therapist is skilled at exploring a large general goal and breaking it down into something that is achievable and will hold great value for you.
Often people will have a general goal, for example, becoming more independent or getting out into the community. The therapist will explore what is important to you, what others admire about you, what makes a good day and bad day and what is working or not working for you in your life. Exploring these questions will often assist you have a clear vision of what success means to you. Your goal of becoming more independent may change to ‘I want to walk around my garden safely’.
It is often useful to ask ‘if you achieved your goal what would other notice’. One mother said that if she was able to get her child with autism ready without a fuss in the mornings then she would also have time to get dressed and walk him into school. She would then be able to talk with some of other mothers and do classroom reading.
3. Therapy can help you become self-reliant and confident
Therapy can help you become more confident and independent and less reliant on people to assist you. Being independent and self-reliant gives you more choices about how you spend your time. Being confident in your abilities will enable you to make more decisions for yourself and have more control.
Amanda was 35 and has autism. She had difficulty communicating using words and she had never spent any time alone. She lives with her parents. Amanda has a support worker who spends the day with her every Sunday while her parents go out. Amanda’s parents wanted more ‘respite’ hours so they could go out during the week and not just on a Sunday. The planner suggested that an Occupational Therapist and Speech Pathologist could assist Amanda with her ‘independence at home and her communication’. The therapists observed Amanda’s abilities at home. She needed lots of encouragement but she could set an alarm, get up herself, choose clothes, have a shower and make breakfast. She was not able to communicate important information or use a phone if alone. Amanda and her parents were surprised that she could do so much for herself. They said they wanted Amanda to be safe and confident to be alone for up to 4 hours at a time. Amanda, her parents and the therapists worked on a plan which involved independence training, enabling Amanda to do more and being able to use an ipad to communicate important information. Amanda spends 4 hours alone a couple of times per week, the support worker occasionally comes on a Sunday if Amanda is feeling tired or unwell. Amanda and her parents are proud of what she has achieved and are feeling more confident about future goals.
4. Therapy services can come in and out of your life as your abilities and goals change
The type, amount and length of time that you receive depends on what you want to achieve.
We provide therapy to achieve specific goals and therefore we provide you with “bursts” of therapy. What is great about individualised funding is that you can have many “bursts” of therapy at different times, depending upon your goals.
Jane is a 36 year old woman with MS. She met with her NDIA planner and told her that she was frustrated that she couldn’t get in and out of bed by herself. She felt either trapped in a wheelchair or trapped in bed. She felt that being able to transfer herself was going to give her much more choice and control about how she spent her time.
Jane had a ‘burst’ of Physiotherapy to improve her balance, trunk control and strength. She also had some sessions with an Occupational Therapist to explore assistive devices to help her move to the edge of the bed. She advised the Occupational Therapist that she was concerned about her tiredness and she pushed herself as hard as she could in the middle of the day until she was exhausted and then needed to go to bed late in the afternoon and had to stay there for the rest of the day. The Occupational Therapist discussed the latest evidence on managing fatigue, she encouraged Jane to rest before she got to the point of exhaustion and suggested that she should try different routines when she was able to transfer in and out of bed. She told me about a great app for tracking activity and sleep to help me know which routine was working well.
Some 9 months later, Jane met with her NDIA planner and advised the planner that she had achieved the goal of getting in and out of bed and that having choice and control about when to rest had improved her confidence in being able to do more things at home. She requested more input from an occupational therapist to assist her to achieve this goal. When the hours were approved Jane phoned Everyday Independence and requested to see the same OT who was already familiar with what was important to her.
Three (3) months later, Jane is now cooking the evening meal about 4 or 5 times per week but she does her grocery shopping on-line to save her energy. Jane is now considering whether a power wheelchair will give her more opportunity to have a life outside of her home. She is considering phoning her planner to discuss if she should explore this now or later on in the year.
5. Therapy can help you become enabled rather than ‘cared’ for
Therapy services can change your support team from ‘caring for you’ to ‘enabling’ you by focusing on what you can do and outcomes that are important to you. Therapy services can work you’re your support team to ‘coach’ and assist them to assist you to achieve your goals. Overtime you will achieve positive results and become less reliant on services. This will give you greater independence, choice and control within your life.