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.

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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

Happy “Let’s Always Appreciate Teachers” Year!

c-wilconx-2I recently had the opportunity to visit Darwin, in the Northern Territory, to deliver some literacy workshops. I have previously been to Darwin, in a similar capacity, almost 7 years ago. It is a very different way of life up there, and a lovely part of the country. Extremely tropical, and life is very relaxed. I think they could definitely pick I was the “Sydney” driver, in the mix.

I was lucky enough to visit a small Catholic school and work with the staff there (during their school holidays :o). It was about 40 mins out of Darwin, which can actually mean it is fairly rural, however the school had approximately 150 students, with actual numbers to be determined, once the kids came back the next week, the Principal explained.

Other than the change of students – down, or up – the school had to condense a class, as they also lost a teacher. It made me realise how difficult it would be to ensure good quality teachers, are encouraged, and supported, to work in rural, and remote environments.

I also managed to speak to some teachers from schools even further remote than the suburb I was delivering the workshop in (coincidentally, there was an Early Childhood Australia Conference on, at the same time I was in Darwin!) The scenarios they were facing with some students, provided a much more eye-opening opportunity, than I was anticipating.

It was great to be able to chat to teachers, from very different parts of Australia, and just nice to be able to meet with educators who are extremely passionate about helping all of their students, with whatever was needed, and never giving up.

I followed this workshop up by immediately going to Melbourne (with a temperature difference of 31 degrees celsius!) where I also met some extremely passionate educators. It was one of the best workshops I felt I had delivered, as we had some excellent educational (with a strong tie to literacy, as was the aim of the workshop :D) discussions, throughout the two days.

I also recently completed some observations in a school for students with additional needs, and was so impressed with the teachers in the class – constantly “on”, teaching, checking medications, ‘catching students being good’, prompting self-regulation – all almost without a breath in between.

And just last week, I was able to deliver one of my favourite workshops, talking about one of my favourite topics – positive reinforcement. I had a lovely small group, of four ‘beginning teachers’ (between 1-5 years teaching experience), all from the same school, and another additional extremely experienced individual. Again, we had some fantastic discussions, and these teachers were all amazing with the time they spent thinking about, and planning for, their students. Some great discussions were had again.

I know teachers receive a lot of criticism, but they really do an amazing job, with something that can be so extremely hard, yet ultimately, so rewarding.

So while it isn’t any specific “International Teachers Day” or anything, I figure, why not celebrate the great teachers around us, every day 🙂

Below is a video from one of my favourite teachers – Mr. Chris from Special Books by Special Kids 😀

Happy “Let’s Always Appreciate Teachers” Year!

2016 is almost here!

changes-2016

And with it, brings lots of (positive) changes!

For the past few months, I have been trying to figure out what I want to do with Great Start Educational Services. Do I want to provide services for more families? Do I want to focus on dissemination and training? There are so many things I want to do, and I just have to slow down, take my time, and eventually, I’ll get to where I want to be 🙂

The first change is – the name! I have had this “Great Start” idea pretty much ever since I started working in this field. I originally chose “education” because I am a teacher, and it encompasses the learning part (I hope!), however, since I am now firmly in the behaviour analysis camp, I’ve decided to change it to “Great Start Behaviour Services”. This will also work nicely with the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the range of supports they provide. I am currently having my logo “re-jigged” (I’m keeping it identical, just changing ‘education’ to ‘behaviour’ – I love the design :D)

The second change is in relation to services. I currently have a part time job with another organisation. I then spend my time on the other three days of the week, plus most evenings, doing work related to Great Start. I love it, and enjoy it, and am happy to do it, however I am starting to feel exhausted. I know towards the end of the year, that is more likely to happen anyway.

So I am starting to figure out how I can make the very slow transition into working wholly within Great Start. It is exciting, and scary, but I think it will ultimately be where I end up. I’m very happy about this because I can focus on providing services exactly how I want to – incorporating what I know has worked for me in the past, and find new, and innovative ways to share information about evidence-based interventions, with families. I also am developing a strong network of peers I can continue to learn from as I go out on my own, and will continue to work with my fantastic BCBA-D supervisor, who is helping me with many opportunities 🙂

I also was finally able to submit my registration! It was extremely difficult using a Mac, which hopefully they will rectify soon, but, it’s done! I’m on my way to being able to provide services under the NDIS.

NDIS submission

Those are pretty much all the changes 😀 Not many, just huge! I am currently also working on a comprehensive goals list for 2016. This one will be much more specific and detailed, and I will have a lot more opportunity for goals related to Great Start, particularly if I am going to be devoting 100% of my working time to it!

So, watch this space! The NDIS is rolling out in more areas in Sydney in mid 2016, so hopefully families will start meeting with planners, and possibly even receiving funding packages by the end of 2016!

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References

The National Disability Insurance Scheme

2016 is almost here!