The NDIS has made a positive impact on the lives of thousands of Australians since the nationwide rollout in 2016. While it can seem like a complex and confusing system, at its core, the NDIS is about enabling eligible people to have more control over important decisions in their life.
One of the many great things about the NDIS is that there are no concrete rules when it comes to what goals should be set for each individual. Everyone’s life is always ever-changing, and NDIS goals are here to help.
What Are NDIS Goals?
NDIS goals can be described as all the things that the participant wants to achieve to live their life. In order to use NDIS funding to access support, goals are needed so that the scheme’s funding can be tailored to achieving them.
Goal setting shouldn’t be daunting, rather it’s exactly the opposite. It is a wonderful opportunity for the participant to decide what works in their specific circumstances. Think of your NDIS goals as being the stepping stones needed to get where you want to go. These stepping stones form a clear path to follow, and NDIS funding is there to provide the assistance to help you reach them through funding, support and much more.
What Makes A Good NDIS Goal?
Goals play a major role in determining how NDIS funding will be distributed, so making sure they align with what the participant truly wants is key. Remember there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ goal, but there are some aspects to focus on that will help make your choices fit into the NDIS way of thinking. If you consider these points before you or a loved one meet with a Local Area Coordinator at the beginning of your NDIS journey, or before a plan review, your goals have a much greater chance to be accepted in the NDIS scheme:
Doing what’s best for the individual: This should be the first thing considered when developing or reviewing NDIS goals. After all, this is why the NDIS is here!
Areas of improvement: What would you like to get better at? Identifying these areas is a great place to start.
Focus on the outcomes: Think about the big picture. What do you or your loved one want to achieve with support from the NDIS?
Keep it broad: Try to keep your goals broad, but the outcome specific. This allows your funding to be as flexible as possible. For example, if your goal was to be able to walk again, the funding could be used for a variety of options, from purchasing a walker to paying for a gym membership.
How Do I Come Up With My Goals?
Under the NDIS scheme, participants are empowered to decide what they think is best. This is excellent for a number of reasons, including that they can exercise choice and control in the planning and delivering of supports. A fun way to begin the process of deciding what your NDIS goals are is to have a brainstorming session. Think about what you love about your life, what you would like to change, and what areas you would like to improve upon.
Doing this will also help you break down your needs into the three main funding areas that are included in your NDIS plan: core, capacity building and capital.
Core funding exists to fund your everyday activities
Capacity funding is in place to help build independence
Capital support is usually for one-off items that are larger investments such as equipment or specialist disability accommodation
An example that could come out of a brainstorming session is wanting to get fit. This can be one of your NDIS goals and you can include several strategies to reach it, such as:
Buying a home exercise bike
Learning to cook healthy foods through recipe books or online tutorials
Purchasing adaptive cooking equipment to help make healthy cooking as easy as possible
Getting support from staff so that you can attend a gym
Where Do Your Goals Fit In?
Once you are finished with your brainstorming session, the next step is breaking your 'needs' and 'wants' into different categories to see where they fit in. Doing this ahead of meeting with your Local Area Coordinator allows you to know exactly what you want in advance of your plan being decided. To begin, take note of how your goals relate to the eight NDIS life domains:
Choice and control
Health and wellbeing
Social and community participation
Not all the life domain points have to be relevant to your goals, but thinking about them early in the goal setting process will help establish where your goals fit in and whether they will be short, medium or long term. One final point to think about when working out where your goals fit into the NDIS system is to think outside the box. On average, 30% of funding for each NDIS plan goes unused each year, so keeping your goals outcome-focused will mean your funding will be as flexible as possible to best meet your needs.
Types Of Goals
To break it down, the things that you need or want to achieve every day should be in your short-term goals. These goals are necessary for you to live the way you want day in and day out. Identifying what you would love to do or have in the future, will form the basis of your medium and long term goals.
Short Term Goals
Short term goals vary for every Australian partaking in the NDIS scheme, and they can include a variety of things. In general, they are in place to help NDIS participants with the things needed every day to live a fulfilling life, such as daily assistance items, social and community participation and help with transport. They play an important role in being the first stepping stones on your path to achieving what you want, along with also being the most flexible since they are in the core funding area.
While every NDIS plan is different, it is common to have two or three short to medium term goals that can be achieved within 12 months. Remember when thinking about short term goals that you should focus on what you want instead of one specific thing to help what you want. This will mean that your funding can be used on multiple items to help reach your short term goals and not be tied down to only very specific uses.
Medium And Long Term Goals
Medium and long term NDIS goals give you the chance to explore what the future looks like. Unlike short term goals, medium and long term goals are ongoing and can take years to achieve, but it is necessary to work towards getting there with support from the NDIS scheme. This is possible by outlining the steps that you need to fulfil them and focusing on checking these off along the way. These medium- and long-term goals can also be flexible and there are usually two or three included for most NDIS plans.
Who Can Help With Goal Setting?
If you need some extra help with determining your goals before attending the NDIS planning meeting there are plenty of great support options available. Many people choose to use the SMART goal tool to help with goal setting since it is straightforward to follow. Goals that fit in the SMART model are:
Specific: Very clear on exactly what you want
Measurable: You can easily describe what is needed to reach the goal and success can be measured
Achievable: It can be attained within the guidelines set of the NDIS
Resourced and realistic: The goal should be reasonable and something you care about that will be beneficial
Time sensitive: A date or a target can be set for achieving the goal
If you would like to talk to others about the goal setting process, your local NDIA office is always available to help, and they can also put you in touch with professionals for your specific circumstances.
For most children who are setting goals there will be a local Early Childhood Early Intervention partner, while for participants aged seven and above, a Local Area Coordinator will most likely be the best fit. There are also many private companies that assist people with their NDIS goals and to obtain an NDIS plan that suits their needs.
Deciding What Services Are Needed To Reach Your Goals
During the goal planning process, it is also wise to think about what services you will need to reach them. By doing this before any planning meetings, you can start the research process on which products or services are available, and how they can assist with your goals. This doesn’t have to be difficult and it could involve many things, such as hiring support workers if your plan is approved, consulting with your doctor or pediatrician, talking to different NDIS providers about their programs, or viewing the products here at Averee that you can purchase with core funding.
My NDIS Goals Are Set, Now What Comes Next?
For new NDIS participants, setting your original goals will be reflected in your plan that is created during your planning meeting. This meeting can occur in person or remotely, and will be developed with either your Early Childhood Early Intervention coordinator or Local Area Coordinator. It is important to have copies of any reports or evidence to show whoever is helping make your plan as this will all help strengthen your case when it comes to goal setting.
Once your NDIS plan is approved, it’s time to spring into action! You can now access funding as part of the scheme to help reach these goals. No matter if you are self-managed, NDIA managed, plan managed, or a mixture of all three, make the most out of your funding and if it’s available, use it.
For NDIS participants that are taking part in a plan review, this is the time where you can realign goals if they have changed. This could be for a number of reasons, including short-term goals being met, circumstances changing and goals needing to reflect that, or that over time these goals haven’t worked out.
Making The Most Out Of Your NDIS Goals
You - or your loved one who is an NDIS participant - are entitled to accessing different supports and services to achieve the goals that are set out in your plan, so why not make the most of it? The system is to benefit you, and your NDIS goals give you the best chance of getting exactly what you want and reaching your goals. These can range from making purchases to access more support services such as health professionals and support workers, depending on the goals outlined in your plan.
Another way to make the most out of your goals is to put in place shorter plans and have them reviewed at least once a year. While there is the possibility to have plans last up to three years, for many people it is worth requesting shorter plans so that there are more opportunities for plan reviews.