In the past year a number of West Australians living with what the NDIS calls a “psychological disability” have come to Chorus, asking us to help them apply to the NDIS for access to services. It has been so rewarding for our team to be able to help these people, many of whom are considered “at-risk”, to get the support they need.
Mark Rich, our Regional Services Lead in Albany, said he and the Chorus team had been able to help people who had “become invisible to the system,” perhaps because they didn’t engage well with services, or were socially isolated.
Mark said some of these people had secured NDIS support packages of $50,000.
“So suddenly they have domestic assistance, individual support to take them shopping or take them to appointments, group social support,” Mark said. “They have funding for transport, personal care if they need it, with the medication prompts. So all of a sudden they can be getting between 10 and 20 hours of support where before they were getting almost nothing.
“And what’s good about the NDIS is that the plan comes with their name on it. So it has a little bit about them, it has their goals, and so that comes back, ‘you’re funded for so much a year to help you achieve your goals.’
“It means they have a bit more ownership and investment in the process. And they then also get to say which service provider they go with and what support they’d like on which day, and it gives them a real feeling of control that I don’t think any of them have ever had really.
“I get to see them come out of themselves and engage around what they would and wouldn’t like.”
Secure tenancies for people living with mental health conditions
“Lots of people have tenancy difficulties,” he said. “We’re able to put in cleaning and gardening services, so where their tenancies have been under threat, and their home was sometimes insecure, we’ve been able to make sure that all of that is covered so they can feel secure about where they live.”
Not everyone living with a mental health condition can automatically access the NDIS. There are a few eligibility requirements. You can read more about those on the NDIS website.
Get help accessing the NDIS
However, organisations like Chorus can help you test your eligibility and access support if you qualify and Mark encouraged people with a mental health history and those supporting them to ask for that help.
“If you have a mental health history and you can have either doctors or mental health professionals verify that you have a lifelong functional impairment, then you’re likely to get support,” he said.
Mark said people should not be discouraged by, or fearful of, a process that might seem complicated, slow or bureaucratic. The results, he said, were absolutely worth it.
“And the key is, once you’ve got the NDIS, you’ve got it for life,” he said. “They review your plan every year or two, but once you’re eligible, you’re eligible. It’s yours for life, you can take it with your wherever you go, and it’s not tied to any particular delivery agency.”