Exercise and the NDIS

So you’re a participant in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). You want to get fitter and exercise more. But where do you start? And how do you even get there?

My experience

I'm an NDIS registered Exercise Physiologist (EP) who has:

  • supported people who are on their first NDIS plan
  • written support letters to help NDIS participants get the funding they deserve
  • had lots of experience explaining to participants how they might use their NDIS funding (not my actual job!) just because they are often totally confused

So without further ado, here are a key pieces of information:

1. NDIS funding needs to be disability related:

NDIS should provide ‘reasonable and necessary’ supports for areas of their life affected by their disability. For example:

  • ✓ a person with traumatic brain injury which has affected their mobility should be eligible for NDIS funding to improve their mobility
  • ✓ a person with schizophrenia who experiences significant anti-psychotic related weight gain may be eligible for NDIS funding to improve their health
  • ✕ an overweight child with a moderate intellectual disability only is unlikely to be eligible for NDIS funding for attendance in the local sports team. Why? It is a reasonable expectation for parents to pay for sports participation where the child does not require specialised disability related support.

2. NDIS funding needs to be goal focussed

Every NDIS participant has the opportunity to select several goals to focus on for their NDIS plan. This might be to "find a job" or "join community sports". A person is more likely to get funding for health and wellbeing activities if their goal is to improve their health and wellbeing. 

3. Funding for Exercise Physiology needs to be under “Improved Health and Wellbeing”

This is a confusing one for a lot of people! In your NDIS plan, supports are categorised into big groups such as “Core Supports” and “Capacity Building Supports.” Under “Capacity Building,” there are sub-categories such as “Improved Daily Living”, “Improved Health and Wellbeing” and more. Most therapy supports such as speech pathology, occupational therapy and physiotherapy fall under Improved Daily Living. If you want exercise physiology, the funding needs to be under “Improved Health and Wellbeing.” I have lost count of the number of times I have spoken to people wanting to use their NDIS plan for exercise physiology and had to explain that they do not have funding under the correct category.

 

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I have funding under “Improved Health and Wellbeing”, how do I use it?

The great thing about the NDIS is you have the freedom to choose just that. In the category of “Improved Health and Wellbeing” you can access several different services: 

  1. Exercise Physiology (EP) 1:1 sessions
  2. Exercise Physiology (EP) group sessions
  3. Personal Training (PT) sessions
  4. Dietitian consultation sessions
  5. Dietitian groups sessions

You can mix and match which services you want, according to the goals you want to reach. Some examples I have had with my own clients:

    • EP/PT Have an Exercise physiologist write up your rehabilitation program and the gym personal trainer helps you to do it on a regular basis. The program is then reviewed every few months by the EP
    • EP/Support Worker Have an Exercise physiologist write up your exercise program and provide training to you or your regular care staff in how to support you in it. The program is then reviewed every few months by the EP
    • EP/Dietitian This person split their funding to use majority for his exercise physiology sessions and several hours with the dietitian as their goal was to maintain a healthy weight. This client’s weight had increased after using medication related to his disability. 

Can I have an Exercise Physiology come in to see me every week?

It's great that you're really keen on us EPs! Unfortunately, it's unlikely for the NDIS to fund weekly EP sessions. This is because we're meant to be a capacity building service - a time-limited, goal directed service. We provide an assessment, exercise program, staff training and reviews. But generally, the ongoing exercise will need to be sustained by yourself and any regular staff workers. And you usually need to exercise more than once per week anyway!

If you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to contact us.