For just over two years we have been working in an NDIS environment in the Barwon Region. We had many information sessions before it started, but nothing could really prepare us for the change. In fact it has been a changing feast all the way! Things are just starting to settle down a little now and we are adapting to our administration requirements.
So what is different about being in an NDIS environment? Quite a lot. So far, only individualised services have come into being. The exciting, but somewhat daunting part is that there are a lot of people coming out of the woodwork and accessing speech pathology services who have received very limited services in the past. This has meant lots of assessments and lots of work. We have definitely increased the number of speech pathologists that we have!
Of particular excitement is the opportunity for school aged children to access therapy supports outside of any services they might receive at school. Some families are really finding creative ways to use these services to assist their teenagers to access their communities and prepare for their adult life away from school.
People are able to access one on one support for respite and to help them access their communities. There are lots of opportunities here to train up some of these support workers in the use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication supports. I am hopeful that we will be able to bring some of these support workers together to share ideas and support each other. There is a lot of excitement about communication out there and I think we could have a wonderful communication coordinator network of support staff if that is allowed in the next tier of funding!
How long does it take to make a communication book? How long does it take to write a meal time plan? How long does it take to train a family to use a communication device? How long is a piece of string? These are some of the questions that are hard to answer, but we have to start getting better at estimating these to ensure that we get funded for all the things we do.
It has been exciting. (I was there in my red t-shirt fighting for the change). But it has been challenging. By the time it rolls out across the country, I am sure it will look different to our current situation. It’s exciting to think that we have had the opportunity to help shape the biggest change to disability services that has happened in a very long time.
– Janice Buckland – South West Regional Communication Service.