Many social, leisure and community participation new year's resolutions may qualify for NDIS funding. From cooking classes to music concerts, our community division experts have put together a few tips to turn resolution into reality.
The end-of-year holiday period is a great time to consider what you would like your life to look like over the next 12 months. You may reflect on what you wished you were able to do during the year but couldn’t due to COVID restrictions. Perhaps you’ve been inspired by an event such as the Paralympics or by something you’ve seen on social media (hello, making authentic Italian pasta) and are itching to learn. Maybe you just want to expand your social network or connect with like-minded others by participating in group activities (social connectedness and a sense of belonging are known to boost wellbeing). But how do you make it happen or help someone in your care to achieve their resolution?
While many people make resolutions related to social, leisure and recreation ambitions - from joining a book club to taking art classes - for people living with disability, the practical side of actioning these resolutions often involves a bit more research, planning and coordination. For instance, to access funding for a support worker or assistive technology to enable participation in a mainstream activity, relevant amendments may need to be made to a participant’s NDIS plan in one or more categories. The good news is that, whether you are an NDIS participant or caring for someone who is, there are a range of provisions that can help to support you to turn your new year’s resolution into reality.
What does NDIS cover?
If you’re a participant, carer, support worker or in another NDIS-related role, the obvious question is probably, ‘But will the NDIS plan cover THAT’ (read: ten pin bowling, cooking classes, pottery workshops)? This is where it can get a bit tricky, because NDIS supports for these areas fall into two main categories. That is, social and community participation funding falls under both the ‘Core Supports’ and ‘Capacity Building’ sections of an NDIS plan. What’s the difference?
- Under ‘Core Supports’, the category called 'Assistance with Social & Community Participation' means that funding approved within the plan covers the support a participant needs to achieve the goals they have set for participating in community, social or recreational activities - whether they are conducted in a private setting such as a gym or in a community centre or even include music concerts or holidays. The key is that they need to link back to the goals in the plan and be deemed reasonable and necessary. In this category, a participant will usually need to pay for the cost of a workshop, tuition, concert ticket, etc, but receives funding for a support worker to accompany and enable participation in the activity - from a music concert to a pottery or cooking class.
- The ‘Capacity Building’ support category called 'Increased Social & Community Participation' may be used to fund tuition fees for things such as art classes, sports classes or coaching and other activities that promote skill-building and independence. Again, it needs to be demonstrated that the proposed activities are reasonable and necessary against goals identified in the NDIS plan, (which is why a participant may need to work with their support coordinator or plan manager to either match an activity with goals currently in the plan or consider amendments to the plan).
In addition to these categories, certain skills-based classes, workshops and tuition may qualify for other categories if they tangibly contribute to increased capacities for independence and/or daily living tasks (e.g. cooking). Some participants may also be able to use assistive technology funding for equipment enabling an activity related to identified goals.
How to find an NDIS-funded activity
While there has been a marked increase in activities and classes for people with disability in recent years, finding a class, workshop, group, activity or facility that fits a participant’s needs can be tricky. In addition, disability-specific events are often run infrequently, which means that places are in high demand and often sell out well in advance (booking itself can be tricky when you need to wait for confirmation of funding for assistance to participate). The good news is that you don’t need to look only for disability-specific groups or events. In fact, doing so may mean you miss out on a whole world of interesting events and on meeting a range of interesting people. Consider these ideas and, while it might sound obvious, don’t forget Google. Try both search terms related to disability and NDIS (e.g. ‘cooking classes Melbourne disability’ or ‘cooking classes Melbourne NDIS’ and simply ‘cooking classes Melbourne’ or ‘cooking classes northern suburbs Melbourne’). We’ve put together some examples of activities to try.
Cooking classes (cooking classes may also qualify for other areas of support under a participant’s NDIS plan depending on identified goals)
NDIS cooking classes
Whether you’re a total novice, have a few culinary skills or consider yourself a budding Masterchef, Real Life Skills has three levels of cooking classes for NDIS participants. The 10-week term programs enable participants to build up skills and confidence and prepare increasingly complex dishes.
Home cooking for NDIS participants
These three-hour classes tailored specifically to NDIS participants are run monthly by Otao Kitchen. It is suggested that participants attend six sessions to build up a repertoire of kitchen tricks including recipe substitutions. While they are meticulously planned and coordinated for maximum learning benefit, these sessions have a social feel and include a free glass of beer, wine or soft drink and a communal dining experience at the end.
Master Chef Kitchen classes
The Master Chef Kitchen weekly classes run by The Disability Trust include a cool twist: each week, a class member is able to choose a recipe for everyone to eat and take home.
Cooking classes for all abilities
Held in the beautiful Macedon Ranges, Life and Fork’s cooking classes feel more like a social gathering than a formal class - although they are led by a highly-qualified trainer who takes care to adapt the class to the needs of students of all abilities. Classes come in two formats: hands-on classes, where you make and eat your own creations and workshops (a demonstration-based format).
From making your own personalised silver ring to dumpling making and Thai cooking, pottery classes and workshops that guide you in painting a portrait of your pet, there is a class for everything you’ve thought you’d love to learn (and for many things you never considered). According to Class Bento, many NDIS participants have used their Social And Community Participation funding for classes.
Ten pin bowling and indoor rockclimbing are two mainstream recreational activities that may be recognised as valuable towards NDIS plan goals and which have modifications and provisions to enable participation by people with varied abilities. For instance, many indoor rockclimbing centres have ‘hoist sessions’ for wheelchair users. Ten Pin Bowling Australia also promotes participation by people with differing needs and encourages NDIS participants. Talk to your plan manager about including bowling or climbing in your plan.
Arts and culture
Major arts venues such as the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Victorian Arts Centre and State Library frequently host events, tours and workshops tailored to participants with varied needs and have provisions such as 'companion card bookings' that allow free entry for a carer or support worker. These venues are also wheelchair accessible and most include an Assistive Hearing system. Look out for events with modifications such as Relaxed Performances, Auslan Interpretation, Audio Description and Captioning.
Jump the January wait list. Refer a participant today!
Are you leaving referrals until the new year when you’re less busy? What if doing it now only took a few minutes online and ensured that your participant(s) received priority appointments in January? You can tick it off your list and forget about the stress of notorious new year healthcare waiting lists.
To lock in your participants' priority January appointments at our Thomastown, Craigieburn or Templestowe Lower clinic, click below to complete our simple online referral form. Priority referrals close December 24. Don't miss out!