4.3 million Australians live with a disability, and many of those struggle to seek the care they need, either because they’re unsure where to start, or because of the often high costs of care in general. Last year, the rollout of full operation NDIS (national disability insurance scheme) brought care within easier reach for 500,000+ individuals. But, for people who have struggled to gain access in the past, NDIS itself can feel too complicated to tackle.
The NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency) set up local area coordinators (LACs) to address this challenge and bring funding, and care, within much easier reach for many. Here, we’re going to consider what exactly LACs offer, and how that stands to simplify the lives of millions.
What is a LAC?
LACs are the public faces of NDIS in the community, and they work locally to bring NDIS within easier reach for eligible individuals. With an in-depth understanding of NDIS application and processing, LACs really act as a bridge between clients and the NDIA. While not a part of the NDIA, LACs are community NDIS partners who work with individuals of all ages and can provide early childhood early intervention (ECEI) services to individuals aged 0-6, or LAC services to clients aged seven and upwards.
LACs are now employed by a growing number of community organisations, and the NDIA is continually working to increase access to LACs for patients in a wide range of locations, including Victoria, NSW, Queensland, and more.
The value of LACs across the community is especially evident in the ten principles of the service, which are –
- Lifelong learning
- Choice and control
- Natural authority
- Working together
- Complementary nature of services
The role of an LAC
While LACs cannot provide case management or NDIS approval themselves, they do work closely to help individuals understand their care plans and wider funding/lifestyle opportunities. While generally operating in partnership with the NDIA, LACs are available even to patients who aren’t eligible for NDIS plans and can provide wider advice about the care available in the local community. Predominantly, however, the role of the LAC revolves more around NDIS eligibility, with three primary responsibilities that include –
- Support with understanding and access to NDIS
NDIS eligibility and application can be confusing, and LACs work directly to help individuals overcome this. Through information sessions, workshops, and one-on-one conversations, LACs help NDIS participants to –
- Create their first plan
- Identify any need for support coordination, etc.
- Review plans
- Set goals
- Links to community support
For NDIS participants and also individuals who aren’t eligible for funding, LACs provide a link to community support such as health, social, transport, and education, as well as outlining the need for additional services.
- Improving community accessibility
LACs also work more widely within their local communities to improve inclusivity for individuals who are living with disabilities, either through infrastructure changes, the implementation of transport schemes, or even simply helping to build social support structures.
How can you find an LAC?
LACs work across local communities consisting of an average 8,000-12,000 individuals, and their reach is expanding all the time as the NDIA works to increase accessibility to care and funding nationwide. In some cases, LACs will approach isolated individuals who need help that they’re not currently accessing.
Most often, however, LACs are introduced to individuals whom other carers deem could benefit from the service. It’s also possible to find a LAC yourself with the NDIS locations tool, which can give you an idea of your proximity to available care options. From here, you should contact your local partner office for details about the options in and around your community.
What differentiates LACs from NDIA planners?
Because LACs work in close partnership with the NDIA, many individuals struggle to see the difference between the role of a LAC and specific NDIA planners. As mentioned, perhaps the main differentiation here is that LACs do not work as part of the NDIA, but rather operate as partners that simplify the service with users in mind. Outside of NDIS-specific requirements, LACs work with even non-eligible individuals and wider community focuses to provide accessibility and support for individuals of all ages. LACs offer guidance and recommendations with regards to NDIS applications, but they cannot approve applications themselves.
By comparison, NDIA planners are employed by the NDIA itself, and work solely to approve and review NDIS applications with the guidance of NDIS legislation which establish –
- Who is eligible
- Relevant supports
- Intergovernmental agreements
The value of the LAC
Often, individually focused care services offer either limited or convoluted access to the care and oversight an individual needs. LACs offer an inclusive approach that prevents the pillar-to-post care that so many individuals have wrongly received in the past. Instead, LACs work closely with individuals to provide inclusive, specialised care that not only sees them making changes in communities overall, but also ensures that they take the time to understand precisely what good care looks like for each individual, and any steps necessary to get there.
In this way, the NDIA hopes that increased access to LACs will change the face of care for thousands by transferring resources away from ineffective care methods in place of proactive, supportive, and accessible care at long last.
Meeting your LAC
LACs offer assistance through a range of meetings, workshops, and information sessions. When you first contact a LAC, they will arrange an initial meeting during which they’ll work to understand your needs and the best possible approach moving forward.
Your initial planning meeting will last around 1-2 hours, and the more prepared you are, the better your LAC will be able to help you towards a care plan that works. It’s also important to note that LACs offer care for a wide range of disabilities, but they aren’t experts. Hence why, in advance of your meeting, you must collect all relevant reports and recommendations to help your LAC understand who you are, and what you need. Some things that you’ll likely want to keep to hand in this respect include –
- Personal information (birth certificate, contact details, bank account details)
- Information about your disability (diagnosis, reports and assessments, medication charts)
- Documentation about existing care plans/supports (daily activities, access to care, use of equipment/aids, etc.)
The next steps: LACs and support coordinators
While LACs do offer ongoing support and assistance, their primary role centres around your NDIS plan and application. Once your plan is approved, your LAC will arrange a further meeting with you during which they’ll discuss your next steps and help you to understand and implement your plan with the assistance of further service providers.
At this stage, your LAC will take a step back. Though you will still be able to speak with them where necessary,your case moving forward will typically be referred to an NDIS support coordinator who can take your plan to the next stage of proceedings and implementation.
Not to be confused with a LAC, an NDIS-funded support coordinator works to help individuals who need a little extra assistance on the implementation of an already-approved, but perhaps complicated, plan. Picking up directly from where your LAC leaves off, a support coordinator will –
- Coordinate services from various suppliers and providers
- Address service delivery issues
- Develop your support network
- Provide case management support if required
Find the support you need at Home Caring today
Here at Home Caring, we offer some of the most comprehensive care support that you could hope for, and our support coordinators are perfectly poised to take your LAC plan and make it work for you. As the main coordinators of your NDIS plan, our specialist team would apply their understanding and experience to your case to provide innovative care that forever respects your independence. Following directly on from the path your LAC lays out for you, our care coordinators would work closely with you in keeping with our four core values –
- Passion: More than just ticking boxes, we provide passionate high-quality care that puts people first.
- Empathy: With our culturally sensitive, compassionate approach, we promise to truly listen to what you, and your LAC, have to say.
- Respect: Our person-centred approach to care revolves around services that enable you to live independently and with dignity.
- Accountability: Quality of care matters a great deal to us, which is why we employ rigorous screening processes to embed compliance and quality standards in everything we do.
From the moment your LAC helps you to achieve NDIS plan approval, our complimentary consultations can help you to begin paving a lasting relationship with a support coordinator who can see your heard-thought plans to life, all with the backing of the steps towards community improvements that your LAC has already taken. Finally, you’ll be able to rest easy that your care, and the finances necessary to fund the best, are in hand. Simply contact us to discuss your options today and get the ball moving onto the next stage in your NDIS journey.