Casey is 20 years old and lives with his parents and two teenage brothers in the family home. He has multiple sclerosis and has limited mobility and hand function because of his disability. This makes it unsafe for him to prepare his own meals without assistance and he can’t go to the shops on his own. Casey would like the NDIS to pay for pre prepared meals that are delivered to his home every day.
Would we fund this?
No, we wouldn’t fund food as it is not likely to meet the NDIS funding criteria. This is because food is:
- not generally a disability-related support
- considered a day-to-day living cost that is not caused by your disability.
We also think it is reasonable for Casey’s family to help him to prepare some of his meals.
Why wouldn’t we fund this?
The cost of the meal delivery service covers the cost of the food as well as the cost of preparing the meals and delivering them. Food is an everyday living cost that everyone has to pay for and isn’t related to Casey’s disability support needs, or to his disability. The NDIS is not responsible for paying for food.
While we can’t fund the cost of food, Casey wants to become more independent in cooking meals and taking his turn to prepare meals to eat with his family. We may fund a support worker to help him to shop for food and to help prepare the ingredients for one or two meals each week. Casey’s family can help him with meal preparation and take their turn to cook for the family on the other days.
What meal preparation supports might we fund?
- Your disability might mean you can’t shop, cook or clean up after preparing your meal. We may fund the cost of a support worker to help you shop for your food, prepare your meals, and to clean up afterwards.
- Your disability might mean you have trouble planning your meals or following multi-step instructions. If you can re-heat your meals, we may fund a support worker to help you shop for food and pre-prepare some meals for the week. We may also pay for delivery of pre- prepared ingredients.
What else do we think about?
To work out whether the cost of paying someone to help with meal preparation is reasonable and necessary, we’ll look at the information you give us against 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, we won’t fund supports that aren’t directly related to your disability. For example, if you want healthy meals delivered because you have a poor diet or need a different diet for reasons that aren’t to do with your disability, we wouldn’t be able to fund this.
We won’t fund meal preparation and delivery if you only need these supports because of health issues such as:
- weight loss
- food allergies
- cardiovascular (heart) disease
- kidney disease
- polycystic ovary syndrome
- irritable bowel syndrome.
These are not usually related to your disability and are better funded through the health system or through mainstream supports. You should discuss this with your doctor.
How can you use your funding flexibly?
The NDIS may provide reasonable and necessary funding for the cost of meal preparation. Your core supports are flexible and you may decide to use that funding to pay for the preparation and delivery of pre-prepared meals in certain circumstances. It is up to you to manage your funding to cover your expenses for the length of your plan. You are only able to use your core support funding flexibly for meal preparation if this was specified in your plan.
Laila lives with cerebral palsy. She has been getting support to prepare her own meals because she finds it difficult to coordinate her upper body movements. Laila has been working to build her independence using her NDIS supports. She can now cook simple meals from scratch and her support worker has been helping her to get meals ready in advance for the next few days, measuring ingredients and chopping vegetables. At her plan review meeting, Laila asks for this support to continue.
To work out whether the funding for Laila’s meals is reasonable and necessary, the planner looks at the information provided against the NDIS funding criteria. Some of the things the planner thinks about are whether:
- Laila needs support to prepare meals because of her disability.
- the cost of the support includes food, which is a day-to-day cost that everyone pays for whether they have a disability
- the support is value for money taking into account the benefits achieved and the cost of alternatives, like a delivery service
- the support will help Laila to pursue her goals.
The planner decides that:
- the support to help Laila plan, shop for and prepare her meals does not include food. Food is a day-to-day cost that everyone pays for whether they have a disability.
- One of Laila’s goals is to become more independent in cooking her meals. She has made good progress towards this goal and she has worked hard to be able to cook simple meals on her own. Working with her support worker to plan her meals for the week, shop for the ingredients, measure out ingredients and get things ready a few days in advance so Laila can prepare the meal herself is strongly aligned to her goal.
Laila’s planner decides Laila needs less support than she did in her last plan because she has made good progress in starting to cook simple meals herself. The planner includes funding for some extra occupational therapy sessions to help Laila to continue to work towards making her own meals with minimal support.
Using her plan flexibly
Laila reported her new plan is working well for her. She mentioned her support worker became unwell and for a couple of weeks was unable to work with Laila as she was isolating. During this time Laila was able to use her core support funding flexibly to pay for her meals to be prepared and delivered. Laila can heat these up without support from anyone else. Laila didn’t pay for the cost of the food from her plan but is able to purchase the cost of the preparation and delivery of the meals. She could do this as she had funding for meal preparation specified in the core budget of her plan. Once her support worker had recovered, Laila was able to continue with pursuing her goal of preparing her meals independently.
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