GPs’ role in linking patients with the NDIS

Morgan Liotta

11/07/2019 10:50:07 AM

The new RACGP resource can help assess patient eligibility for the NDIS and give information on how to access it.

RACGP NDIS resource
The RACGP hopes for successful collaboration with the NDIA to complete rollout of the NDIS and to continue supporting patients with disability.

By the end of this year, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) intends to have completed rollout of its National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) across all states and territories, expecting to support 460,000 Australians with disability.
To date, there have been some issues around patients accessing the NDIS, and a somewhat less-positive outlook on the Government’s funding for the scheme.
The RACGP acknowledges the gradual transition to the NDIS and the variations in implementation between states and territories that affect stakeholder interaction, such as communication and education. Its National Disability Insurance Scheme: Information for general practitioners provides further guidance for GPs and reinforces the college’s stance on supporting the NDIS, in anticipation of successful collaboration with the NDIA and increased awareness and recognition of GPs’ role in the ongoing management of patients with disability.
GPs will likely be one of the first points of contact when a patient is applying to become an NDIS participant, according to the RACGP. The patient or an NDIA representative may request the GP to provide evidence of their patient’s disability and the functional impact on everyday living.
Associate Professor Robert Davis is Director of Clinical Services at Monash University’s Centre for Developmental Disability Health and Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Disability network.
He considers GPs an essential link for patients with disability in accessing the NDIS and helping them to navigate through it.
‘GPs have often been the one constant outside the family throughout the life of the person with a disability,’ Associate Professor Davis told newsGP.
‘They are often able to provide verification of a person’s disability, inform the [NDIS] assessor of the results of key investigations, other specialists involved in care, the social context of the disability, the impact on family and carers, the extent of the disability and the types of supports needed by the person.’
Assessing eligibility criteria, including completing an Access Request form and follow-up support fall under the role of the GP. Associate Professor Davis outlines recommendations for carrying these processes out successfully.
‘GPs have an important role in providing confirmation of a person’s disability,’ he said.
‘In some situations where there may be problems verifying the disability, the GP can refer for appropriate assessments. In some patients there may be a misunderstanding as to what the NDIS may provide and the GP can help clarify this.
‘Once a plan has been drawn up, the GP can provide valuable feedback as to the adequacy of the plan and whether it sufficiently meets the need of the individual. At times the GP may need to advocate for their patients to have a revision of the plan.’
The support works both ways, with the RACGP resource detailing areas where further assistance is required for GPs in helping them support patients, including:

  • improved communication – for example, NDIS plans being forwarded to their GP with the patient’s consent
  • efficient and reliable disability assessment tools for GPs
  • consideration of time spent preparing medical information for NDIS assessment and planning purposes
  • avenues for reimbursement
  • well-integrated referral pathways
  • education and training for GPs on the services provided through the NDIS.
Associate Professor Davis believes that while there is a lot of information out there, it is important that GPs have access to information on the NDIS from the general practice perspective.
‘The NDIS provides GPs with an overview of what the NDIS provides and valuable information on how the GP can support a patient’s application for access to NDIS services,’ he said.
‘It also outlines how GPs can contribute to identifying the supports a patient might need within their plan.
‘GPs are important advocates when a plan is inadequate for their needs, or needs to be updated because of a change of circumstances. Having this [RACGP] fact sheet readily available will help GPs.’

disability National Disability Insurance Scheme NDIS

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