Core Supports assists NDIS participants with daily tasks, meeting disability-related requirements, and helping participants achieve their plan goals.
We are told that Core Supports are “flexible”, this doesn't however, mean that anything goes. Expenses still must meet the NDIS's “reasonable and necessary” requirements and must align with a participants goals, plan and needs. If it doesn't align, it isn't allowed.
The Flexibility of Core Supports
The Core Supports budget, across four categories, is highly adaptable and comprises the only flexible budget categories. As skills and needs change for participants, budgets can be claimed in other categories, avoiding plan reviews. It is easy enough to change supports where needed. Participants can generally use the funds across any of the four support categories.
A participant may be able to change from having 10 hours down to 5 hours a week with one-to-one support care. This extra funding may be able to be used for community or sporting activities for example. Keeping flexibility in this budget allows for easy transitions for participants, whose support, needs or interests may change over the course of a plan’s life.
Nevertheless, there are situations where the transport funding may not be as flexible.
In NDIS there are four areas that your Core Support budget is broken up into. Depending on your plan you may have access to some or all of these categories.
Assistance with daily life
"Daily Activities” in the myplace portal! *
This comes under assistance with everyday needs such as personal care, household cleaning, cooking, meal delivery, garden maintenance, or even assistance in shared living arrangements. These supports can be provided in the community or at home. In regards to meal preparation and food delivery, quotes are no longer required, but they must be specified in the plan.
This is a flexible area of the plan, where in-home support may be reduced for example, in favour of a delivered meal preparation service. One of our clients Stuart, recently had a change in circumstances where it was not suitable for him to be cooking with a support worker. He also preferred the convenience and variety of the ready made meals.
Stuart has been able to reduce his food preparation support hours - which were already in his plan. He was easily able to switch those support hours to claiming on a meal preparation service. With less hours of support needed for meal preparation, he can now use those hours towards other support hours, such as social activities.
Does it cover food and supplies?
NDIS only covers the reasonable and necessary costs of preparation and delivery, not the cost of the food itself.
*Yes, we agree,it can be confusing why things have different names in myplace - but that’s the way the cookie crumbles at NDIA sometimes. Stay with us, we’ll always explain when there is different terminology.
Consumables refers to the everyday items you may need to support your disability. They are likely to be off-the-shelf items, must always pass the reasonable and necessary test, and be related to the disability and the goals of the NDIS plan.
This may include items such as continence products or low-cost assistive technology and equipment which can improve your independence and/or mobility. This may include items such as walking sticks, eating aids, specialised bedding, or even interpreting, Auslan training and vision or hearing related low-cost assistive technologies. Consumables are for items that are low risk and cost less than $1500.
Plans will sometimes have a very specific amount in the consumables budget, such as $500 for a year. This is typically associated with items the Planner expects to be included. When this has been stated, that is the full amount that can be claimed in that area, and there is no more flexibility to move funds around from other areas.
When creating a plan, planners typically include their projected spending for consumables to facilitate their purchase. If a plan doesn't mention consumables, the standard procedure is to search for and link them to the relevant goals and assess their reasonable and necessary criteria. In the case of commonplace items like food, computers, and games, written approval from the planner is sought.
An example of what is not covered under Consumables.
Nappies: are not covered if a participant is of the age (eg. Under 5) where all families would pay these costs as day-to-day living costs. Nappies, wipes and other associated items may be covered for example if the disability has higher needs in this area, or in the over 5 bracket, to assist with continence needs.
Vitamins and Medications in general are not covered by NDIS, particularly if these are covered by the health system. However some nutrition supplements or thickener products prescribed by a health professional, can be covered if related to the disability. This can also include Home Enteral Nutrition (HEN) formula and the equipment related to it.
Higher risk assistive technology products that may include items like power wheelchairs, or products known to have caused harm or items requiring professional setup and training. You can read more about this at https://www.ndis.gov.au/participants/assistive-technology-explained
It’s important to understand the consumables budget and how it can be flexible. Have a chat to a plan manager about how this part of the budget can be managed to the best advantage of the participant. Planners are increasingly wanting the specific items or budgets to be listed in the plan.
Assistance with Social, Economic and Community Participation
This part of the budget covers the support workers to assist participants to be more social in community activities, or perhaps get assistance with finding a job.
This is not to be confused with “Increased Social and Community Participation” part of the Capacity Building budget, although very easy to confuse! The only word difference is “Assistance with” V’s “Increased”.
Example: Jasmine and her support workers get the job done
Jasmine lives in a country town of Victoria, and lives independently in a purpose built social housing unit. Each day Jasmine is entitled to 3 support hours to help her live an independent life. This includes support with home duties, personal care and getting out of the house and into the community, such as social events and doing the shopping or attending appointments.
Jasmine is a social butterfly, and is well known around town, and she loves to have a chat with the locals on her travels. Through this part of the budget Jasmine is also able to attend her local Ten Pin Bowling League, which she has participated in since she was a child. The budget allows Jasmine to get the support worker she needs to take part in the activity, but does not cover the cost of the bowling itself.
This support enables Jasmine’s parents who live nearby to be able to hold down full time jobs, while providing family support when needed. Jasmine is also a part of various day programs in which she is transported either by a disability bus, local taxis or Support worker vehicles. A transport budget is allocated to Jasmine as a fortnightly allowance because she can’t access traditional public transport options. You can learn more about the transport area of the budget next.
As plan managers for Jasmine, we always look out for what is and isn’t covered in the plan and if any activities are diverting from the NDIS plan.
Transport covers the support that helps participants travel to work, or programs and differs depending on how many hours a week a participant is engaged in social, work or study activities. The transport budget, we would usually recommend is self-managed as it is paid in fortnightly instalments to the participant. We explore this topic in other blogs and FAQs on our website.
What's the score on the Core?
On a final note, just remember to use the Core funding part of the budget wisely. Monitor overspending and underspending, be creative in the way the categories are used, they are flexible for a reason - as life needs to be pretty flexible! And perhaps use capacity building funding (learn about this in another blog) to learn new skills that may reduce the amount of support hours you need in the core funding area.