The NDIS journey, Identifying and engaging your service choices
5th of September, 2018
By Brendan Dunphy, BLD Communication
While hard to believe, the NDIS has just celebrated its 5th birthday. Sadly, there still remains confusion and indeed, public misinformation around the NDIS with much of this related to the choosing and engaging of appropriate service providers.
Before we look at this, here are some quick statistics since NDIS began:
1. 183,965 participants
2. 16,755 registered providers
3. Now fully operational in NSW, SA and the ACT
4. The first regions of WA are now operating
5. 1 in 3 NDIS participants are new to disability support
The most surprising of these statistics is that one in three active NDIS participants have never engaged with the disability services sector before. So a quick calculation means more than 60,000 NDIS users are brand new to disability services!
This should be good, or at least comforting news to those that are considering NDIS but have been daunted by the prospect of getting underway.
So where do you begin?
There are, of course, many avenues to learn about NDIS planning and service choices. From family and friends to media – both broadcast and social – it’s important to note the information you receive and the providers you ultimately select, are appropriate for your specific needs.
Let’s examine some options.
An easy to access and ‘anytime’ port-of-call for your initial service choice and provider investigations. Aside from a plethora of useful information about the NDIS process, you can select and filter your service choices by provider, location or category of service. Easy! www.ndis.gov.au
Depending on your situation and support needs, relevant NDIS coordinators will work and help guide you on your service provider choices related to your specific needs.
Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Coordinator
An ECEI Coordinator has dedicated experience working with children with disability or developmental delay. They will work closely with you to develop plans and appropriate service choices that will help your child develop the skills they need to take part in daily activities and reach their developmental milestones.
Local Area Coordinator (LAC)
LACs will also guide you through plan development and appropriate service selection. They will then ensure you start receiving the services in your NDIS plan and also provide assistance and support throughout your plan progress.
If either a LAC or ECEI coordinator is not available, or you need more help coordinating your supports and services, a Support Coordinator may be an option to help you with your NDIS plan. They are also trained to guide and help with service selection and engagement.
NDIS fact sheets and publications
Supporting coordinator efforts, the NDIS also have simple to read and easy to understand participant booklets. These are (of course) free to access and inform, guide and support all parties throughout their NDIS journey.
Booklet 1 – Understanding the NDIS
A plain English guide to learning about, deciding on and accessing the NDIS.
Booklet 2 – Planning
Understanding current support, creating a plan to achieve your goals and receiving an approved NDIS plan.
Booklet 3 – Using your NDIS plan
Understanding what’s in your plan, how to use your plan, choosing and managing supports and services and reviewing your plan and progress
Click here to learn more:
Choosing your services
Once you have – with your coordinator and through your plan – identified the types of services that will provide the greatest and most appropriate benefit to the person with disability, it’s time to begin the provider selection process.
At this point and with the help of your ECEI, LAC or Support Coordinator, you can begin to identify registered and service appropriate NDIS providers.
It’s important to note if you are agency managed, you must choose an NDIS registered provider, however, if you are self or plan managed, you have the option to choose from a broader range of mainstream non-registered providers. This is acceptable as long as the service or support falls within the activities that meet your goals. Noting this, how your NDIS is managed is a discussion you should have with your coordinator as one style e.g., self-managed may not suit every participant.
Regardless, as with any professional service provider, you should do your own research! Check reviews, get advice from friends or family and speak with different providers either face-to-face or over the phone before you agree to work with them. It’s obviously important the provider not only meets your specific needs, but is someone you trust and feel comfortable with.
Some questions to ask
We encourage all participants to take the time to discuss (with your provider) your goals and how they can help you work toward them. Here are some questions to consider:
• Can you work with my plan?
• How will you help me achieve my goals?
• Can I choose which staff will work with me?
• Can you provide the service at a time that suits me?
• How can I make a complaint or resolve a payment issue?
Feel empowered! Remember, if one provider doesn’t fit the bill, there will be other options.
Provider service agreements
Once you have chosen your registered providers, you need to agree with them on how your supports and services will be provided and paid for. To do this, a service agreement will be required. This agreement makes it clear (in advance), what costs will be involved and what services will be provided.
As an example, a service agreement might include items such as:
• What supports and services the provider agrees to provide
• The cost of those supports and services
• How, when and where you would like your supports and services to be provided
• How long you need the supports and services to be provided
• When and how your service agreement will be reviewed
Your provider may have their own standard service agreement that you may like to use, or you can create your own.
Your LAC or Support Coordinator can help you with this process and ensure it is appropriate for your needs.
A personal perspective
To lend some practical experience to this article, our own family’s NDIS journey was initially challenging in regard to where to begin, understanding the plan process and more importantly, how to choose the right providers. With our dedicated LAC, however, we were walked through every step of the process from creating our plan to receiving confirmation of funding (we were thrilled with the outcome) – to finding the most appropriate and indeed, very best services AND providers for our daughter. We are now most of the way through our first year and couldn’t be happier with our LAC and the overall NDIS process.
So don’t be daunted and don’t put it off. It can provide a remarkable and life-changing opportunity and for us, one we could never have afforded to do on our own.
At NADO we specialise in delivering NDIS services and supports so welcome any inquiry – so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about choosing your service provider as part of your NDIS plan.
As always, we actively encourage feedback on our blog content in general. We are always open to suggestions and comments!