Your NDIA Planner or LAC will ask you how confident you are about researching providers, making agreements with them and managing money. Saying you need some help with this may lead to funding being included in your plan for Support Coordination.
What is Support Coordination?
Support Coordination is a service intended to help you get started with the things in your plan and to help you pursue your goals even when life gets difficult. Unfortunately, the language around this simple concept has become a little confusing in the NDIS price guide. We’ll try to explain it all here.
Support coordination services sit in an NDIS support category called “Coordination of Supports”. This support category has three different support items – one of which is also, somewhat confusingly, called Coordination of Supports.
An NDIS support category is simply a grouping of services that all have similar aims. This category of supports is a little different to most in that it’s not about delivering you a support service directly – it’s about making sure that those support services are in fact delivered.
You may have a plan that says you will get certain supports from your family, others from a local community group and several different supports that are funded by the NDIS. For some people, coordinating all of these different supports may be difficult. In recognition of this, the NDIA has created three different levels of support for people with different levels of need. Let’s run through them:
Support Connection may be added to a plan for those people who just need a little bit of help to get started with all the supports in their plan. They might need a little bit of encouragement to get out and connect with all their service providers or a little advice on how to maintain relationships with those providers. Perhaps they need to be given some confidence in dealing with disagreements about service delivery or some help to learn their way around the NDIS online portal.
Whatever the help needed, it is likely that it will only be needed for a short time because these participants are quite capable and they probably have a good network of carers. Once “shown the ropes” they will have the capacity to operate independently in the NDIS world.
Coordination of Supports:
Coordination of Supports may be added to a plan when the participant needs a little more help than Support Connection. Perhaps this participant has a more complex set of supports that are more difficult to coordinate or perhaps they could handle things most of the time but occasionally come unstuck. Maybe they don’t have a well-developed informal support network to help them e.g. their parents or carers may not be well enough to support them.
Again, this is a capacity building support so this participant may need less Coordination of Supports over time. Hopefully, they may only need Support Connection in the future.
Specialist Support Coordination:
Special Support Coordination may be added to a plan when the participant has specific high level difficulties that may impact the implementation of the plan. In these situations, a specialist worker will be brought in to assist with breaking down barriers or reducing complexity so that the participant can receive the supports they need. This specialist may also develop an intervention plan that can be utilised by those delivering the service to keep things on track. Once again, this is a capacity building support and will hopefully be required less over time.
Because this category of support is a little different to most, the NDIA has some rules around who can provide these support items. Their policy changes from time to time so use this as a guide in interpreting your plan:
- Support Connection is expected to be provided in the first instance by the organisation providing Local Area Coordination (LAC) in the participant’s area. Should the participant be unhappy with the level or the standard of support provided by the LAC they should speak with the NDIA.
- Coordination of Supports can be provided by any organisation registered with the NDIA to do so (unregistered providers are not permitted). The NDIA originally had a policy of not allowing disability service providers to provide coordination of supports due to potential conflicts of interest i.e. the coordinator of supports could possibly use their position to direct all supports to their own organisation.
Having made a decision to issue first plans that are very similar to existing services and in recognition of existing provider/participant relationships the NDIA has relaxed this policy. Now your existing service provider may provide support coordination services but must have a policy in place to deal with the potential conflict of interest. As a consumer, you should be aware of this potential conflict and be sure to exercise choice in who provides your services.
We believe this relaxation of policy is likely to be temporary and may be reversed when the market for independent coordinators of support is more fully developed. In fact, we feel so strongly about this point that we have registered with the NDIA to act as one of the first independent support coordinators available.
So who will provide you with this service? When you go through your planning session and if you are granted Coordination of Supports, you will be given the opportunity to nominate a provider for this support. If you don’t nominate a provider, the NDIA will recommend one chosen at random.
If you’d like to ensure that you are getting independent advice from a registered Coordination of Supports provider, we’d ask you to consider nominating Plan Management Partners as your provider.
- Specialist Support Coordination can only be provided by an appropriately qualified and NDIS registered Allied Health professional. The provider selection process for this support item is likely to be similar to that for Coordination of Supports i.e. we expect you will have a chance to nominate your preferred provider or you can choose from providers chosen at random by the NDIA. Plan Management Partners does not currently have the skill set to provide this service but we may be able to help you with provider selection by offering some suggestions from our provider database.
We hope this run down on Coordination of Supports has been helpful and that you’ll consider nominating us as your Coordinator of Supports (that’s the item!).