Disability support services to assist you to reach your goals and maximise independence, NASC is the first step for people living with a disability to access government funded support services.
The Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) is the term used for an organisation who helps people with a disability get the support they need to live as independently as possible. NASC’s are contracted by Disability Support Services, Ministry of Health and work directly with the individual and their family/whanau and carers to discuss an individual’s goals and determine their specific support needs. The primary role of a NASC is to assess whether a person is eligible for government funded disability support services, and what those services should be. An example of the type of services that may be available to people can include; help with personal support, meals, household management, equipment and modifications, behaviour support, autism spectrum disorder support, child development services, and respite care etc. The Ministry of Health describes the key responsibilities of a NASC are:
- to facilitate a needs assessment;
- to coordinate support services; and
- to allocate resources within a fixed budget.
What is a needs assessment?
A needs assessment is an initial assessment conducted with a person with a disability and their family/whanau and carers. The purpose of the assessment is to determine what is needed to help a person with a disability maximise their independence so they can participate as fully as possible in society. The ‘needs assessor’ will ask for information around what the person can and can’t do, what they would like to be able to do, and what help they already have. They also look at areas of social, educational and employment needs, as well as the needs of their family/whanau and unpaid support people.
What is service coordination?
Through the needs assessment process, an individual’s specific support needs are identified, and options for support are discussed and agreed to by all involved. The NASC ‘service coordinator’ then works out what services can be provided under the ministry of health funding, and what services can be accessed elsewhere. The service coordinator is responsible for making referrals to the appropriate services and for monitoring the progress of both the individual and the support being provided. Support services identified are likely to include both publicly funded disability support services, as well as other services that are available to the person in their community. It is also the role of the NASC to ensure that any supports and services allocated to the individual are fair, and that they fit within the disability support services budget.
Who is eligible for a needs assessment?
A needs assessment is available for people who meet the Disability Support Services’ definition of disability:
A physical intellectual and/or sensory impairment or disability that is:
- likely to continue for a minimum of six months,
- reduces your ability to function independently, to the extent that ongoing support is required.”
In addition, a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder may also be eligible for a needs assessment. Typically, needs assessments are carried out with people under the age of 65. Disability Support Services for people with mental health or age-related needs are generally funded by District Health Boards.
How to access the NASC, and get a needs assessment?
If you or someone you care for needs support because of a disability you need to contact your local NASC for a referral before a needs assessment can take place. Each NASC has their own referral form which they will send to you on request. Referrals can be made by yourself, or any other person or organisation as long as they have your permission. Sometimes referrals from a professional (pediatrician, GP etc) carry more weight, so it is important to note this when self-referring. The NASC will review your referral for eligibility for publicly funded support services and will then contact you to make an appointment. If you do not meet the eligibility criteria, then the NASC may be able to help you find other services that may be able to help.
Tips for navigating the NASC
It is important to prepare yourself as best as possible when navigating the NASC, to make sure you have all the tools and knowledge to get the best possible outcomes for you or your family member. It is often helpful if you have an idea about the types of support you can request. If you are unsure check the ministry of health website (see below), you can also ask others in similar situations what support they get. Parent to Parent can put you in touch with people in similar situations, as well as providing additional information that could be helpful in your situation. It is important to also note that the needs assessment and service coordination are carried out by two separate people, so it is important that goals and needs are clearly identified in the needs assessment as a different person will be reading it and allocating services accordingly. Below are some practical tips you can do to prepare yourself or your family member when navigating the NASC:
- Check what support is available https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/services-and-support/disability-services/types-disability-support
- Talk to someone in a similar situation https://parent2parent.org.nz/services/matching/
- Think about the types of support that would be useful, for example do you want help with personal care in the home, or respite?
- Think about what a good life would look like for you or your family member, consider the day-to-day situation, as well as what goals you would like to achieve.
- Write a list of all the things you need help with, or have to assist your family member with, it is often helpful to compare them (or yourself) to another person of the same age without a disability. Think about what extra assistance you require (or have to provide) that wouldn’t be needed for a person without a disability. For example:
- do you/they need assistance to shower/toilet?
- do you/they need assistance with eating?
- do you/they need assistance with walking?
- can you/they work independently?
- do you/they need help leaving the house?
- do you/they need help communicating with other people?
- Be honest and realistic, even if it sounds very negative. It is important not to sugar coat the situation.
- Chose the assessment location that best suits you, this can either be at your home or at their office.
- Have a support person (advocate) with you. It doesn’t matter who they are and they don’t need to say anything.
- If you are advocating for your family member with the disability you may want to consider meeting with the assessor without your family member present if you need to talk about difficult issues privately.
- Ask to have the assessment sent to you before you sign it. Only sign it once you are happy that what has been written is correct and describes your situation accurately.
- Add letters from professionals; teachers, doctors, etc if you feel it could help your case.
- If you do feel like you don’t get what you need from your NASC assessment, remember you have the right to appeal.
- If anything changes about your situation, or you are not finding the services as helpful as you need make sure you contact your NASC.
- The NASC are required to do a written assessment every three years, but you can request a reassessment at any time if your situation or needs change.
Find your local NASC
NASC organisations differ between areas/regions. You can find the contact details for your local NASC on the Ministry of Health website at:
Care Matters. (2017). Tips for navigating the nasc. Retrieved from https://carematters.org.nz/
Ministry of Health. (2015). Disability Support Services: NASC organisations (NASC organisations fact sheet). Retrieved from https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/topic_sheets/needs-assessment-service-coordination-organisations-mar15.pdf
Ministry of Health. (2018). Needs assessment and service coordination services. Retrieved from https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/services-and-support/disability-services/getting-support-disability/needs-assessment-and-service-coordination-services