NDIS Driving Assessment
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a federal government initiative that was first introduced in 2013. It began rolling out in 2016 nationwide and intends to assist people with disabilities and lifelong medical conditions (up to the age of 65 years) to access funding and supports. The NDIS purposes to be centred around its participants, where they are given full choice and control about the services and supports that they wish to collaborate with. The NDIS has the central goal to enhance the independence and overall quality of life of its participants. To become a participant of the NDIS, the person must meet eligibility criteria and demonstrate that their disability has a considerable impact on their functioning in their everyday lives. Once this has been established, the NDIS will make decisions regarding the amount and type of funding the participant will be allotted, depending on the person’s needs, current supports and their personal goals.
One of the ways that the NDIS can boost a person’s independence is to help them fulfil their goals of learning to drive or returning to driving following a newly diagnosed medical condition or disability. This can include funding for driving lessons, getting a disability driving assessment (called Occupational Therapy driving assessments), or the purchase of vehicle modifications. The NDIS funding category that these types of services and supports fall under is either ‘Capacity building’ or ‘Capital supports’.
The activity and ability to drive is a crucial task for many people. Driving grants people the freedom and independence to be able to accomplish the daily tasks they value and partake in their community in personal, professional or vocational ways. In New South Wales, when a person’s disability or medical condition possibly changes their ability to drive safely, this condition must be acknowledged to the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS). Ideally, the person should declare this medical condition when they apply for a learner licence, or once they receive a diagnosis if they are an existing licence holder.
The decision about the potential effects of a person’s disability or medical condition on their driving capacity is made primarily by the person’s treating doctor (GP or specialist), in close conjunction with the driver and their family. Often, the doctor will endorse the person to undertake an Occupational Therapy (OT) driving assessment to comprehensively ascertain how the person’s disability is currently impacting on their driving, as well as how to best help the person drive according to legal standards. For new learner drivers, the driving assessment’s chief objective is for the OT to recommend how many driving lessons the person will likely need to achieve their provisional licence. The NDIS will then decide how much funding it will allocate for driving lessons.
For NDIS participants who are already driving and develop a new medical condition or a deterioration in their medical status, NDIS resources may be used to pay for an OT driving assessment, vehicle modifications and/or necessary driving lessons to aid them to return to driving as quickly and as safely as possible.
Modified Driving Solutions is proud to be a registered NDIS driving assessment provider. We have been a provider for the NDIS since 2016 and have worked with individuals with varying medical conditions and physical and mental disabilities, assisting them to achieve their goal of obtaining a driver’s licence or to get back to driving. We work alongside experienced Rehabilitation Driving Instructors to create evidence-based rehabilitation plans for people with all levels of driving experience. The OT driving assessment involves two parts and is conducted in the person’s home and local area:
- 1. The off-road assessment is where the OT looks at the person’s physical, visual and cognitive acuity and functioning. This is to ascertain if there are any notable issues in any of the three key areas required for driving. For instance, if a person has a physical disability hindering on their driving, the OT will identify the appropriate modifications for the on-road portion of the assessment.
- 2. The on-road assessment is where the individual drives around their local area for 1 hour, using the driving instructor’s dual-controlled vehicle. The OT examines how the person’s medical diagnosis or disability is impacting their driving performance. Depending on the person’s existing level of driving experience, the OT will establish a lesson plan for driving lessons for the person (for learner drivers or drivers learning to drive with a new vehicle modification), prescribe suitable modifications for the person, and/or recommend another OT driving re-assessment once the person has progressed with their driving lessons. The OT will discuss in detail the outcome and recommendations coming from the assessment, and copies of the OT report will be given to the participant, their referring doctor and the RMS.
It is worth noting that while Modified Driving Solutions makes recommendations about the person’s need for driving lessons and/or vehicle modifications following the OT disability driving assessment, it is ultimately the decision of the NDIS to determine how much funding the person will be given. If you are an NDIS participant, caseworker or NDIS support coordinator, please contact us to find out more information about the NDIS OT driving assessment.