Preparing for the first meeting with the NDIS

A woman on a video call using sign language.

Following notification that you or the person you are representing, has been accepted into the NDIS, it is time to get everything ready for that very important meeting.

Who the first meeting is held with will depend on the age of the person with disability. If it is a child under seven years of age, the meeting will be held with an Early Childhood, Early Intervention (ECEI) Coordinator from your local ECEI partner organisation.

If the person is more than seven years old, the meeting will be held with a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) Planner. Whoever the person is, they should contact you to arrange the meeting at a time that is convenient to you.

The three most important things to now consider in the lead up to the meeting are:

  1. Goals for the person to work towards
  2. What support will be needed to achieve these goals?
  3. Is there any unmet need in the person’s life?

Identifying goals

If you have never had to think about identifying ‘goals’ for someone before, it can be a challenging thing to do. However, identifying goals is an important part of the NDIS process. The NDIS is interested in both short and medium-long term goals. Short term goals are those that can be worked towards and hopefully achieved within 12 months. The medium-long term goals will take longer to achieve.

A good place to start, is to think about the area of life that the person may wish to focus on eg. school, employment, friendship, home, health, spirituality, financial security, decision-making, safety, etc. It may be one of these or all of these and more.

Take each area of life and think about what it is that the person is wanting to achieve in that area of life? For example, if the aspect of life is home, what is the goal that the person is hoping to achieve? Is it for the person to move out of the family home into a home of their own over the next 12 months? If planning for a child, the area of life could be school. The goal might be for the child to be able to travel to school with their siblings.

Also, think about the purpose of the goals. Are they maintenance goals or capacity building goals?

Example goals for a child:

  • Wendy would like Thomas to be able to travel to school with his sister
  • Wendy would like Thomas to improve his fine and gross motor skills
  • Wendy would like Thomas to improve his emotional regulation and development.

Example goals for an adult:

  • To learn how to drive a car
  • To continue to manage my own home and be as independent as possible
  • To stay as healthy as I can by getting regular exercise, having support to plan and cook healthy meals.

Support needed to achieve the identified goals

This question is an important part of preparing for the first NDIS meeting, as to achieve some of the identified goals, some specialised support may be required. Looking back at the example goals for a child above, it’s very likely that the skills of an occupational therapist would be required to work towards the second example goal. It may be that a psychologist is required to assist with the third goal. These supports should be discussed at the time of the meeting and identified as being required in order for the child to work towards and eventually achieve the identified goals.

If the participant is an adult, and the goal is to stay healthy and have support to plan and cook healthy meals, it may be that the expertise of a dietitian and a personal trainer is required. Again, raise this at the meeting in terms of what support might be needed to achieve goals.

It is important to note that if allied health professionals of any kind are already providing services to the person, it would be good to have them write a report that recommends the services that you are hoping will be included in the funded plan, i.e. hours of speech therapy or physiotherapy, or how many times a month the person requires a meeting with a dietitian or their psychologist. Think about how many hours of in-home support or community access support the person needs across the week.

Is there any unmet need in the person’s life?

This initial meeting provides an opportunity to really think about the child or adult’s life. What do they do all day? What happens after school? Who do they interact with? Are there any forms of technology or equipment that would make life easier for them? Are there gaps in their day, week, life and what are they?

It might be helpful to actually create a document that captures a week in the person’s life. By doing this you can see what and who is currently present and it may uncover gaps across the week when there is nothing happening. Perhaps the weekends loom large with very little going on.

You can then think about a goal that the person is wanting to achieve that could fill the gap and what support might be needed to assist them reach it, and when and how often that support could be provided.

Other background information

The NDIS is also interested in capturing a snapshot of the person and their life, so it’s good to also have some background information available to share at the meeting.

  • About me: Tell a story about the person. How old they are, where they live, who they live with etc.
  • My daily life: Tell a story about the person’s daily life, do they attend school, go to work, have interests?
  • Important people in my life: Describe who is in the person’s life, from family and friends, teachers, local GP etc
  • Existing services and community supports: Describe what other supports the person might currently be receiving from other parts of government i.e. attending TAFE or Uni, using some form of subsidised transport, therapy services or Specialist services. Does the person attend a local church or youth group? Are they a member of a soccer club or local choir?
  • Assistive technology: Identify any aides or assistive technology that the person currently uses that are essential for daily life. Is there anything missing?

Other important things to consider

It is during this meeting that you would discuss the style of plan management you are wanting. Have you decided you want to self manage, use a Plan Manager or have the plan Agency managed or a combination of these? Are you going to request Support Coordination?

It is really important that you have thought about these questions prior to the meeting so that you can put your views and wishes forward.

Also read:

How do I manage my NDIS funding?

A guide to NDIS support purposes and support categories