Working with Providers

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is providing many opportunities for people to access supports and services that they may have never been able to before.

It also opens up a dynamic, and innovative marketplace, for new, and exciting providers to provide specialty, niche services, based on the needs of the consumers.

Once you get through the initial planning stage with the NDIS, you will then have to choose service providers. There are lots of options, depending on what your needs are, where you live, age, etc and lots of ways to find different service providers. Google is a great place to start – google ‘the service you are looking for’ + ‘your suburb and state’ and it should give you some information.

When choosing a service provider to work with, there are a range of different things to consider. Below is a list of some of these. Before signing up with any specific organisation, ensure you feel comfortable, and have any questions answered.

service agreement

Service Agreements

Generally you will have a service agreement, that should be clear, and easy to understand. This will describe what the service you are signing up for, involves – including sessions, times, costing, complaints procedures, and how to end the service agreement. The NDIS have provided a template on their website. You should be able to take the time to read through the service agreement, and suggest any changes you want to see.

question mark

Ask Questions

Ask as many questions as you want! Find out everything you need to know. Make a list of what you want to know, write down questions, and take it to your initial meeting. Also grab the details of your contact at the organisation – email and/or phone number – so if you have questions later, you can always contact them.

graph

Goals

Your NDIS plan should have specific goals you are working towards – does this provider line up with supports to help you achieve your goals. On the flip side, how does your provider measure goals and progress? Do they provide initial assessments? Are there ongoing monitoring tools? Are the monthly session summaries? It is important to make sure the supports you have in place are helping you to achieve your goals, and the best way to do this, is monitor, as you go! (Not just at the end of your NDIS plan!)

There are many other things to think about and consider, and you may be able to access some support in finding and engaging service providers, through a Local Area Coordinator (LAC), with the NDIS.

Working with Providers

NDIS Review – 6 months in

While this is not by any means a thorough review of the NDIS and it’s Sydney roll out, I thought it would be good to stop, and reflect on what I have seen with the NDIS with my clients, so far.

The NDIS rolled out in parts of Sydney, from July 2016. This meant that a lot of my clients would be switching from either private pay, or HCWA funding, to having access to (generally) a lot more funding. This was fantastic for the clients, as they now could access a whole lot more than they currently were.

It was also a big learning curve, for all involved – including me! Going into the NDIS, I didn’t know too much about how it would actually work. Not for lack of trying! I read EVERYTHING on the website, not only in the Provider section, but all over, and still didn’t really have a clear idea.

It seems to me, as I work with more families going through it, it is an extremely individualised thing. Which is great, it’s what we need, however there is also a lot of variability between participants, and what’s in their plan, even if they seem to have similar goals. It really does depend on the participant (or their representative i.e. their parent/carer) and how articulate they can be, about what their goals are – either long term, or shorter term.

For families going through the initial meeting, it can be very overwhelming – especially to sit down and think about your child, and what their needs are, not just in the immediate present, but perhaps down the track as well. The NDIS has again simplified the initial meeting, so you may not need to consider much further long term goals, right now, and instead be able to focus on what is working well now, or what you want to add to your current supports, and work through the first year with that.

In your initial meeting, you can have a trusted professional there, as a support for you, however they will just be more of a moral support, and maybe help you work through your thoughts, and get out everything you want to say. It’s also a good idea to write down a list of what you want to discuss, to make sure you don’t forget anything!

Some meetings are happening face to face, other meetings are happening over the phone. In certain parts of Sydney, external agencies, are organising the meetings (Uniting Care etc). Once you meet your “planner”, they will be the person you have the most contact with, and if you have any questions after the meeting, or during the year that the plan is in action, they would be your first point of call.

You can go back to them at any time during the plan’s year. This may be because your or your child’s needs have changed. It may be that you have implemented more services, and require additional funding to finish the year. It may be that you want to move from a managed plan, to self-managing your funds. It may be that you want a bit more help in finding services – although there should also be someone called a “Local Area Coordinator (LAC)” helping with this. This is ok if you need to do that, and will probably help you get more of an immediate answer. In the initial stages, there will be a lot of ‘finding our feet’ – for participants, providers, and the NDIS, but don’t be afraid to ask questions, and find answers.

In terms of finding and engaging service providers, there are lots of options and ways to do this. Your planner, or LAC should provide some options. The NDIS website also has links, and you can google to find more information. Of course you can continue using your current service providers, providing they are NDIS registered, or you are self-managing your funding.

To sum up, it is still something I am relatively optimistic about. I am working a lot with families with older children, who may have missed out on some funding models, and have been unable to access specific, appropriate intervention and support where needed. There are still a lot of things that need to be ironed out, and will most likely do so, with subsequent roll outs in other areas, but it seems to be making an impact for some people, who are already participating in the scheme.

To check eligibility, visit the NDIS website, and give them a call (1800 800 110). Even if you’re not in a roll out area, it might be worth registering your details sooner, rather than later.

Just on another note, from the other end, a provider’s end, again, this seems to vary a bit, depending on when you start the registration process. I think it has been simplified a lot, since it first started, and the initial paperwork, and just thinking about what you can offer as a provider, has deterred a few people I know. The good news is, I believe that once you get started, and apply, provided you have appropriate qualifications, and experience, it will be a fairly simple process to register (for certain supports). Again, it might be a lot of paperwork, but it does ensure that the providers registering, are going to be providing, high quality supports, and have the participant’s best interests, at the centre of what they do.

 

NDIS Review – 6 months in