Are you unable to cook meals or cannot do the shopping for the ingredients for a meal?
Imagine having healthy, delicious meals delivered right to your door. It can be such a relief for people with disabilities who cannot cook their own meals or have no other support that can help make cooking achievable.
If you have you been desperately thinking of using your National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan funding to have cooked meals delivered and do not know who to ask for help, where to start or just wish to know the eligibility criteria for this category of funding under ndis, you have come to the right place.
In this article, we will go through some of the aspects with meal preparation and delivery under ndis in detail and look at how it can be funded, and under what circumstance it cannot be funded by ndis.
So, Lets explore this topic in more detail -
Can NDIS cover the cost of a home-delivered meal?
In general the answer is yes, surely it is something that can be funded by NDIA but to be more specific, the answer to this question may be based on individual’s situation - if your requirement of having cooked meals delivered meet the criteria of reasonable and necessary.
NDIA while making a decision to fund meal preparation in a plan, may look at different things. This may include the type of disability you may have, whether the requirement of delivering cooked meals is directly related to your disability and other circumstances.
If you are a support coordinator and have been asked by your client (ndis participant) about using funds for meal preparation, you can be able to guide the client, by firstly comparing your participant’s situation to some of the case studies on NDIA operational guidelines website from here.
Compare the plan goals of a participant, type of disability they have and how it affects their day to day living with the case studies in the guidelines. Also look at the core support funding, their core funding goals and if there is anything stated in the core support category regarding meals and its preparation. Generally if there is any funding allocated for cooked meals delivered, the core funding would have been allocated with the funding specified for the reason. Meal preparation is not a quote required item thou your plan must have it stated.
How is meal preparation cost covered by NDIS?
To simplify, it is helpful to consider that there are two aspects of meal preparation and delivery -
1. Ingredients that are used to make meals (this part may not be covered by Ndis as it is related to day to day living)
2. preparation and ndis food delivery. (This part may be funded from your ndis plan if participant has a disability that makes him unable to do so).
So to work out how much of funding will be provided by ndis for total of meals required, there isn’t an exact formula used by ndis approved meal providers, but generally 70% of the cost of meals as per a price quote can be covered from your plan. This cost covers for the preparation and delivery of meals, while the cost of ingredients to prepare those meals is considered as a daily living expense by NDIA and hence just like anyone else NDIA would expect a participant to pay for their own living expense. This ingredient cost may account for up to 30% remainder of the quote value that a participant may pay from their pocket.
This arrangement of joint payment is also referred to as co-pay or co-payment by providers who supply prepared meals to ndis participants.
How can you pay for meal preparation and delivery with your NDIS funding?
NDIS have recently made accessing core funding for meal preparation easy by building the flexibility within core budget of a plan, so that participants can use their funding to pay for meal preparation and delivery.
Before sometime, meal preparation and delivery were a stated line item, making it slightly hard to access the funding and requiring a quotation, that further needed to be approved by NDIA before anyone could have been able to utilize their funding for meals delivered. This is no longer the case, and a quote is not required at this stage.
So nowadays anyone with Core funding in their plan can use it flexibly for the purpose of ndis meal delivery using the line-item number 01_023_0120_1_1 however the only condition is that meal preparation has to be specified in the plan under the core support category funding goals.
How does NDIS decide to fund meal preparation in your plan?
It is important that before you go to your planning meeting, have an idea of what would be acceptable and unacceptable by NDIA, for it to fund meal preparation in your plan.
So, for NDIA to understand whether the cost of paying someone external to help you with meal preparation being reasonable and necessary, a planner may look at the information you give them. NDIS may only fund it, if they are satisfied that the request meets the NDIS funding criteria.
While the NDIS can provide reasonable and necessary funding for the cost of meal preparation and the cost of home delivery, NDIS may still be unable to fund supports that aren’t directly related to your disability.
For example, NDIS may not fund a meal preparation support, if you want healthy meals delivered because you have a poor diet or need a different diet for reasons that aren’t related to your disability.
Also, it is likely that NDIS may refuse the idea of funding it, if you only need these supports because of health issues such as:
cardiovascular (heart) disease
polycystic ovary syndrome
irritable bowel syndrome.
While the above statement is made by NDIA in their operational guidelines, they can still consider the goal of a participant to become more independent in cooking meals and/or taking turns to prepare meals to eat with their family. In such cases, NDIA may fund a support worker from the core budget, to help a participant to shop for food if they are unable to do so and funds from core can then be used flexibly to have a support staff help work with client to prepare the meals towards building their independence and in this manner a participant can have home cooked meals each week with support from carers by utilizing funds from core budget of their plan.
How to get funding for meal prep included in your plan?
Even thou meal preparation and delivery are no longer a stated line item; you may still have to get it specified under your plan funding; for core support budget to be used for this purpose.
If a participant who do not have meal preparation specified in their plan and wish to use their core support for this purpose, we would recommend speaking to your Ndis planner to get some prior consent before using core funding for any such purposes, unless it is an emergency, in that case speak to your support coordinator for their expert guidance and also seek an approval from plan manager (if plan managed) so that the bills can be paid on time.
For Participants who require long-term meal deliveries through a meal plan service, like Lite n’ Easy or Kinela, and don’t want to use up all their core funding it is best to speak to your ndis planner for getting it added as one of your listed goals. If this applies to you, we recommend that in your next planning meeting, have the following:
A written quote from a meal provider, with cost details on how many meals are required during the life of your plan.
It is best to back up your discussion with any form of evidence, report or letters from practitioners supporting the severity of your situation for meals preparation being considered reasonable and necessary and relating to the disability that you may have. A good example of a type of evidence can be a letter from your occupational therapist explaining why you’re unable to prepare meals yourself.
How to get more choices and variety for cooked meals under ndis?
If your plan is either plan managed or self-managed, you are able to choose from a wide range of meal delivery services as with plan or self-managed option, you are able to choose unregistered providers to deliver meals as well. This can give you extra choice and options.