Well it’s March already! I’ve been doing online shopping as it’s Beth’s 19th birthday in 2 weeks. She’s growing up way too fast!
I had a phone meeting with the NDIA last week. At last! I had the call on Wednesday to book it in for the Thursday. During the original phone call, I asked if we should know exactly what Beth will be doing as, due to not having a plan, or the funds to book her into something, I didn’t know what we qualified for. They were really helpful and said that if we have a rough idea of what we wanted to do, and pricing for that, they could be really flexible with the funding. So for example, if I want to get her into a group type of program, we can apply for the funding for that and transfer to a different program if that one turned out not to be suitable.
I had spoken briefly with a chap who had advertised on a local page on facebook, wanting zookeepers. He runs a bed and breakfast which has native animals as well as other sorts and was setting up a type of program for people who had an NDIS plan. I had called him, really excited as Beth’s passion is animals, but concerned about the fact that we didn’t have our plan in place yet. He said to call him when we were closer to that. As that was a couple of months ago, and there was a lot of interest, I didn’t hold out much hope. I called him after the initial conversation with the NDIS on Wednesday afternoon, explaining that we were having our planning meeting on Thursday morning and if there was any possibility left of Beth joining them that I would love to factor them in. I am so pleased that I did! Yes, he had had a lot of interest but for various reasons some people were not necessarily suitable or not as interested as their parents seemed to think they would be. He was happy to meet with Beth the next afternoon!
On Thursday morning I had my phone meeting with the NDIS. It went really well. I’ve heard horror stories, and, let’s wait and see what I actually get in our package, but they were really open to everything I said. And in fact, suggested more things. So for example, I spoke about the zoo position. It’s three days a week, and I’d like Beth to do one day a week somewhere else, perhaps at the media studies school that she did last year. The NDIS worker asked me how she would get to these places. I asked if there was something we could factor in for transport. And if not, I guess I could drive her. He said that now that Beth is an adult that wasn’t my responsibility anymore. That if she was in school when applying, and I was asking for help to get her to school and back that it would probably be knocked back because any parent has to get their child to school. The whole reason for the NDIS is to equate what the current situation is, plus the NDIS, to allow for what any other person could do. So if Beth isn’t able to catch public transport then they will fill the gap. They said there is a fund for transport and I will apply for a taxi card for her which means she could get taxi fares at half price. If I find a cheaper way though I will ask for that. To get to YourDNA is easy as it is on the train line. So they put in for 3 hours a day to have somebody come to our house and take her on the train, and back home again!
It even seems pretty easy and flexible. You can choose who manages the funds. So if I was to manage them I would pay for things and invoice NDIS and be reimbursed. If they were to manage them then it’s all out of my hands. If a third party was to manage them, they are sent the invoices and they send them on. Originally I had decided to self-manage smaller things such as her personal training. This is only funded because the issues she has are because of her autism, as in poor gross motor skills. Anything that is managed by the NDIS has to be via an NDIS provider. So as we would have to change personal trainers I said not to worry as we’re really happy with ours. But if it is managed by an accountant, or by myself, we can choose who our provider is. So in the end, I decided to put it all in the hands of a third party provider, whose fees will be part of our package. That way we have the flexibility that we need with our providers. They also put in for respite of 3 hours per week, which can be saved up. At this stage I said I didn’t need it, but if she makes friends at the zoo program or wants to start going to social groups it would be very handy to have somebody take her. Even to the movies!
After the meeting, we went and looked at the zoo. We both fell in love! It’s amazing, and right up Beth’s alley. The owner said pretty quickly, “she’s passed the first hurdle, she really does love animals.” Beth is the type who would ignore a person and zoom in straight for their pets! She was introducing herself to all of them. Many of them are nocturnal so Beth didn’t get to see them. One of the jobs will be for the staff to cut up the food, then they’re having cameras installed which will be live, so when they’re at home they can watch as the animals wake up and eat the food. They asked Beth which her favourite animal was. She said all of them! He told me that they were having a big barn built and as people were coming and having trials he was seeing which were their favourite animals and getting some of them in. So if quiet time and petting were needed they could go to the barn (supervised of course) and sit with the rabbits or miniature pig. The owners are husband and wife and have worked in the disability field for over 25 years. And they have a trainee vet on staff. It’s a bed and breakfast so one of the chores is to answer questions of the guests about the animals. I told them that Beth loved to research so would love that side of things! It’s a 3 day a week program with a crossover day on Wednesdays when both groups get together. So Beth would go on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On a Wednesday they have a social day where they go on outings to places such as Healesville Sanctuary where they will get ideas for new animals to add and how to build the enclosures. They’re passionate about breeding endangered species too. It’s just perfect for our girl! So they’re calling me to organise a day next week for her to do a trial. Then once her funding is through she can start the program properly. She even gets to wear a khaki zoo shirt like the Irwins! If the trial goes well we’ll buy her an Akubra hat and some cool blundstones for work! I’m so excited. I’ll keep you posted as to how we go!