NDIS OT Functional Assessment – What Does This Involve?

Elyse Graham

Written by Elyse Graham
(Senior Occupational Therapist).
31st March, 2020.

If you have been accepted into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and/or have recently been provided with a new NDIS plan, chances are it may include funding for an “Occupational Therapy Functional Assessment”. So, what does this involve?

Essentially, an OT functional assessment focuses on what your goals/hopes are for your future then seeks to identify how you are managing day to day at present and what challenges/gaps need to be addressed in order for you to make progress towards achieving these goals.

Where Do I Start?
Your first step will be to find an Occupational Therapy Service who can complete the functional assessment. A list of registered NDIS providers can be found on the NDIS website if your plan is NDIA managed, or if you are self or plan managed you can utilise any provider of your choice. You can then book an initial appointment.

NDIS Service Agreement
At the initial appointment, your OT is required to provide you with an NDIS service agreement, a document which outlines the following:

  • Summary of services to be provided by OT for participant
  • Schedule of supports for the OT service, including pricing/cost of service which will come from funding provided in your plan
  • Responsibilities of OT service
  • Responsibilities of NDIS participant receiving OT services
  • Details re changing and/or ending service agreement
  • Details re providing feedback, making complaints & addressing disputes

What does an OT Functional Assessment involve?
This will likely be covered over more than one session, depending on the complexity of your situation and amount of hours included in your plan for the assessment.
Sessions may be completed in the clinic or in your home or community environment depending on the challenges/needs identified.

Step 1 – Will usually involve you meeting with your OT to discuss your situation. This may occur in person (either at the clinic or in your home), online via telehealth or via telephone. This conversation will focus on the following areas:

Self care Your OT will explore with you how you are managing with daily tasks such as showering, dressing, toileting, personal hygiene, sleep, nutrition etc to ascertain if you are experiencing any challenges associated with your condition/s and how these may be impacting on you completing these tasks. For example, low mood may make it a struggle to get out of bed and shower each morning, while chronic back pain may make previously simple tasks such as putting on shoes challenging

Home Management
Similarly, your OT will discuss with you how your condition/s are impacting your ability to manage tasks such as meal preparation, shopping, cleaning, laundry, managing the household budget/paying bills etc. They will discuss your living situation and current supports in place and identify challenges you’re are experiencing which may be preventing you living the life you would like to be living.

Community Management
Being able to get out into your local community to access services such as shops, banks, libraries, attend medical/health related appointments etc is important and your OT will assess how you are managing this. Are you able to continue driving, independently utilise public transport or have access to support for transport?

Work/Study/Vocational Activity
Chronic health conditions can also significantly impact on an individual’s ability to engage in voluntary or paid employment and/or study. Your OT will work with you to identify any challenges you are currently experiencing or if you are not currently engaged in any vocational activity, identify if this is a short or longer term goal and what challenges may need to be addressed in order to assist you in reaching this goal.

Leisure/Recreational/Social engagement
Are you engaged in regular recreational/social activity – either hobbies/interests you pursue at home or groups/activities you attend in your local community such as exercise, craft/art or music groups, attending church etc? How is your condition/s impacting on your ability to engage in these activities? Do you find yourself bored and socially isolated? Do you lack confidence to meet new people/engage in
conversations with others? These are some of the questions your OT may discuss with you in order to ascertain what you would like to be doing and what is currently difficult for you.

Step 2 – Practical Assessment – If particular areas are identified as challenging for you, your OT may request to observe you completing certain task/s to gather further insight into the challenges you face and to assists in making recommendations regarding ongoing support, therapy or possibly assistive equipment (Assistive Technology/AT) that they could recommend to increase your independence. Such assessment may include self care, shopping/meal preparation or catching public transport.

Step 3 – Report & Recommendations
Once your OT has established the challenges you are experiencing and your goals, they will formulate a report which will include a summary of your current function and recommendations for future therapy, supports, assistive technology etc that they feel would assist you to optimise your independence and achieve your goals. This report will then be forwarded to NDIA for consideration when it comes time to review your
plan for ongoing funding of NDIS supports.

If you have any further questions regarding OT Functional Assessments for NDIS, please contact Lifeworks OT.

ADDIT – During the period of current restrictions posed by the COVID 19 situation, our OTs are able to continue to provide functional assessments. These sessions can be conducted either online via telehealth or via telephone consult if you do not have access to a device with camera capabilities/internet access.

NDIS OT Functional Assessment – What Does This Involve?

COVID-19 Update

We hope you are safe and well, and coping with all the changes to our lives that have occurred due to COVID-19.  We would like to let you know that we are here to support you, and are continuing to provide occupational therapy services. We have temporarily ceased any clinic-based consultations in order to reduce any risk to our clients and our staff. All of our staff are now currently working from home.  Our preference is to provide OT services as much as possible via telehealth.  This means either telephone or online consultations.  This is the best way to still provide services and remove any risk of infection.  We understand however, that for some of our clients, this is neither suitable or possible. Where telehealth is not appropriate, and an occupational therapy service is essential, we are continuing to see clients in their homes or in the community. We do this with all the physical distancing and hygiene precautions in place.
We will contact you prior to your appointment to see if it is possible for us to provide your service via telehealth. If it is not possible and we are planning to come to your home, please let us know if you or anyone in your household are unwell with any symptoms of COVID-19, such as a fever, cough or sore throat.
We care very much about our clients and staff and we would like to reassure you that we are doing our best to keep surfaces and our hands clean and will maintain a safe physical distance during home visits.  This means we will not shake hands when we greet you, and will only use direct hands on contact when essential.

If you are well and we come to see you at home or in the community, please:

  • Maintain a 1.5 metre physical distance where possible.
  • Wash or sanitise your hands before and after appointments where possible.
  • If you need to cough or sneeze, please use a tissue and dispose of it or cover your mouth and nose with your elbow.
  • Refrain from having additional family members/carers with you if possible as the less people in contact with everyone the better.
We know that at this time some of our clients may be finding it particularly difficult with increased isolation, anxiety or a reduction in their usual supports and services.  We would like you to know that if this applies to you, please reach out to us to ask for help, and we will try our best to help you access the support you need.

We sincerely appreciate your understanding of the above. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.  

Best Wishes
The Lifeworks Occupational Therapy Team