What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive Technology (AT) under the NDIS is referring to any equipment, modification or item that can improve an NDIS participant’s life.
Community Therapy’s Occupational Therapists (OTs) help NDIS participants determine what AT (equipment and/or modifications) can help them achieve their goals.
We Prescribe Assistive Technology to NDIS Participants
For participant’s with an active AT budget in their NDIS plan, Community Therapy is often engaged to find the appropriate piece of equipment. As an example, a participant’s wheelchair may not be fit for purpose, and we would help them find the right wheelchair.
Alternatively, and more commonly, we are engaged to identify different pieces of equipment that should be considered in the next plan review. In this scenario, we will perform a functional and environmental assessment to determine what equipment needs to be considered.
We predominantly prescribe mobility-related equipment such as wheelchairs and scooters for people to access the community safely. We are achieving excellent results through participants increasing their community participation.
We also perform home modifications assessments, which can be anything from rails and ramps, to full home modifications.
Process to Receive Assistive Technology
Step 1 – When you first call
For all referral enquiries, we ensure that we’re a suitable provider to consider for the respective service. This is usually constituted by the age of the participant, location and the types of disabilities.
We are a great provider to consider for adults over eighteen years old, in particular, older adults living with primarily physical and neurological disabilities.
Our team is mobile through the Greater Hunter, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Central Coast regions.
We aim to organise our first appointment within 10 business days.
Step 2 – Our first meeting
The majority of our visits take place at the participant’s residence. If someone is not comfortable for this to take place at their home, we can work together to find an alternative venue.
We will cover what is in the existing NDIS plan and review what the participant is funded for under Assistive Technology.
We will assess the inventory of AT the participant current has to determine what is currently suitable and to identify if anything needs repair or replacements. We will identify if there are new pieces of AT that may help the participant achieve their goals.
We will perform a full environmental assessment to identify if there are any minor or major home modifications that may be indicated.
The initial assessment provides us with the necessary information to update your NDIS plan and submit an AT request form.
We will produce a service agreement at the first appointment.
Step 3 – What we’ll do
We help the NDIS participant submit their AT request forms to the NDIA, which are extensive in nature.
The purpose of these AT request forms is to explain the reasoning why the equipment requires funding from the NDIA, as well as various options of that type of equipment.
As an example, if there is a wheelchair that is very expensive compared to others, we will need to justify why the cheaper wheelchairs are not suitable for the participant’s needs.
After the AT request has been made, the NDIA will process the request and advise the participant and their clinician of the outcome.
In the event a request has been approved, the participant has the ability to purchase that piece of equipment under their plan.
If a participant is self-managing or plan-managing, they can either purchase it themselves or have the plan management company help them purchase. If a participant is agency-managing, the equipment supplier will be able to process payment through NDIS portal. Then, the equipment would be organised to be delivered.
Our Occupational Therapist will re-visit the residence and assess the setup of that equipment, and provide you with any training and ongoing support for that.
Step 4 – Ongoing support
Typically, our service agreements will run for the same length as the NDIS plan, unless there is a reason not to.
We help our clients revise their plan, review supporting materials and prepare paperwork for the next NDIS plan review.
Our visit frequency, length of engagement, expectations and off-boarding will be listed in the original service agreement.
In the event a participant wishes to disengage Community Therapy, we provide them with the necessary documentation and can perform a handover to the new provider.
We Accepted Assistive Technology Referrals
We receive referrals from several sources for NDIS participants. We are primarily contacted by the participant themselves, a family member, local area coordinator, other NDIS registered organisations and support coordinators.
Community Therapy has been a registered NDIS provider since 2016. We are accessible by participants that are having their plan managed by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) as well as self-managing participants and participants that have elected to have plan management.
We strive to improve quality of life through increased safety, mobility, accessibility to the community and greater independence performing daily activities.
Assistive Technology FAQ
What is the difference between assistive equipment and assistive technology?
There is no difference, aside from terminology.
The word technology in Assistive Technology may infer that AT is referring to electronic devices, however, this is untrue.
Assistive technology is NDIS terminology. AT encompasses assistive equipment, actual pieces of technology and home modifications.
AT could be low cost, low-risk equipment such as a roller frame or walking stick, to high cost AT such as an electric wheelchair controlled by eye movements. There is also adaptive communication AT designed to help people read, write, watch media and use technology.
What is a detailed AT assessment opposed to a normal one?
An AT assessment is very specific to the NDIS.
Normal AT assessments requires healthcare professionals to use NDIA templates, this is a national standard.
Detailed AT assessments require more information relating to the types of equipment that have been considered.
As an example, in a detailed AT assessment, we may compare a custom wheelchair against five other similar wheelchairs that are not fit for purpose.
How long will it take to receive my assistive technology?
It can vary dramatically.
The turnaround can be anywhere from several weeks to several months.
Is it worth ‘shopping around’ for other quotes for my assistive technology or is the price regulated by the NDIA?
The equipment and modification prices are not regulated, it is worthwhile obtaining quotes.
It is part of the AT assessment or request form to demonstrate different quotes have been considered to ensure value for money for that reasonable and necessary piece of equipment.
The Occupational Therapists will perform the shopping around for you as part of the assessment. With that said, we recommend spending some time looking for suitable pieces of equipment and different prices in your own time.
What feedback do I provide during a trial period?
The Occupational Therapist will work with you during the trial. We will ask for your feedback. The purpose of a trial is to establish if the equipment is clinically suitable.
As an example, you may be trialling a cushion, the OT will want your subjective feedback of how comfortable it is and how comfortable it is at different times during the day to ensure that it’s suitable.
Under what circumstances is a trial “passed”?
Often with Assistive Technology, you may trial several different pieces and several different brands.
The way a trial is when the clinician believes the equipment is clinically appropriate, demonstrates value for money, reasonable, necessary, and will meet the AT request requirements to actually have the equipment approved. In addition, the participant should feel their needs have been met.
What should I do if, after some time, I’m experiencing discomfort or not satisfied with the assistive technology provided?
Firstly, please call us or your clinician directly and they will re-visit your property and review the equipment to determine what is happening.
If there is actually a fault with the equipment or it is not fulfilling the promises that the supplier make about that piece of equipment, the clinician will liaise with that supplier regarding that feedback.