NDIA changes in response to Corona Virus

By March 25, 2020Blog

On Wednesday 25th March 2020, the NDIA published information about how they are responding, due to the impact of the Corona Virus, to help service providers continue to support participants during this difficult time.  This is basically a stimulus package being implemented by the NDIA to ensure people with disability can continue to receive the necessary services required.

Let’s take some time to unpack what has been announced and identify how these changes will impact on the provision of support coordination services.  As well, hopefully help you to think through and identify the systems you will need to put in place, by analysing how these changes will affect your day to day practice.

 Advance payments for providers

A one-off advance payment is being provided for registered providers only.  The purpose is to assist service providers with immediate cash flow issues due to assumed increased costs to deliver services within the current environment.

The conditions:

  • You will need to have received a payment in February 2020, and a payment in either December 2019 or January 2020 to be eligible.
  • The NDIA will email you if you are eligible to receive the one-off advance payment.
  • If you are eligible, you will receive the payment automatically, starting 30th March and will receive payments within five business days.
  • You can opt out from receiving the payment by following the instructions in the email.

Things to consider:

  • The advance payment is required to be repaid in full in the future.
  • There is no clarity about how this will happen e.g. the credit will be debited from future invoicing or you will be required to pay the amount back and then re-invoice for the cost??
  • If as a registered service provider, you are keen to accept the one-off advance payment, think about the systems you will need to put in place.
  • For example, how will you track and provide evidence of services you have provided and how this correlates with the advance payment provided.

 Temporary 10% increase

The NDIA has “temporarily” increased price limits for some supports including:

  • Assistance with Daily Life (excluding Supported Independent Living)
  • Assistance with Social and Community Participation
  • Improved Health and Wellbeing (excluding personal training)
  • Improved Daily Living Skills

An updated Price Guide and Support Catalogue have been published with updated information to include these changes.  Again, it is assumed these supports have been targeted to encourage service providers to continue to deliver these fundamentals services in this challenging environment.

Things to consider:

  • Your role in quality and safeguarding, will include ensuring service providers who are currently providing these supports (to participants you are working with), are updating their Service Agreements, to confirm participants agree with being charged the increased cost for service provision.
  • There is no information about whether the NDIA will add this additional 10% to the amount of funding allocated on a participant’s NDIS plan to purchase these supports.
  • In effect, a participant may have less funding to purchase these supports, which will impact on the number of hours of service they can now purchase.

 Cancellations

Participants are now required to provide 10 “business days” notice in advance, for a cancellation of a service if they want to avoid paying the full cost of a cancelled service.  This has been increased from having to provide 2 days’ notice.

From 30 March, service providers can claim 100% of the agreed cost of the support being provided when a participant cancels a service with less than 10 “business days” notice.  This is up from 90% claimable when cancelling a service with short notice.

Things to consider:

  • The Price Guide talks about a service provider needing to have specific conditions in their service agreements, to ensure participants are aware of when and what cancellation fees will be charged.
  • Again, there is no information about whether the NDIA will provide additional funds in a participant’s plan to account for the increased cost.
  • The cancellation payments are in relation to a participant cancelling a service, not when a service provider cancels a service. It is likely, more and more services will withdraw from providing services due to the restrictions around social distancing.

 Extension of participant’s plans

Participants NDIS plans, that are due to expire, will be automatically extended by 365 days to ensure they have continuity of service.  However, it is unclear if the NDIA will contact a participant to discuss this with them or not.

The NDIA have stated if a participant’s plan is scheduled for review, they will contact them by phone or email to conduct the review, at which time, they can request their plan be extended for up to 24 months.

Things to consider:

  • Participant’s will need to check if their NDIS plan has been extended, if they are due for a review. This information can likely be sourced through accessing their Myplace portal or contacting their Plan Manager.
  • You may have already starting working with a participant to review their current NDIS plan and have identified additional supports required. This may be based on the goals they want to achieve in their next plan or due to the impact of the Corona Virus.  For example, children having to be home schooled, having to socially isolate, lack of support workers available etc.
  • Think about how you can communicate these changes with the participant, and what messaging and systems you will need to put in place, to ensure they have appropriate resources available to meet their changing disability support needs.

 Support Coordination now available under Core funding

The three levels of support coordination services have now been duplicated from the Capacity Building budget and added to Core funding.  These include the following line items, under Core Supports, Assistance with Daily Life:

  • 1_790_0106_8_3 – Level 1: Support Connection
  • 01_791_0106_8_3 – Level 2: Coordination of Supports
  • 01_793_0106_8_3 – Level 3: Specialist Support Coordination

Things to consider:

  • The participants you are currently working with, will be able to flexibly use their Core funding to purchase additional Support Coordination services.
  • Participants, who were not previously allocated support coordination funding, under the Capacity Building budget, will now be able to purchase support coordination services through their allocation of Core funding.
  • In effect, this will likely see a rise in the number of referrals for support coordination services to manage issues like lack of supply of services, the impact of people being socially isolated or children being home schooled and needing additional support.
  • Being able to explain the scope of your role and being clear about what you can and cannot provide will be important, as some participants may not understand the difference between a case management role and support coordination.

The following are some things you will need to consider when accepting a referral:

  • How many hours of service does a participant want to purchase?
    • Under the capacity building budget, a participant is allocated a set amount of funding, which in turn determines the number of “hours” of service they could purchase.
    • If a participant is accessing funding under the Core budget, then you will need to negotiate how many hours of service will be required, based on the support a participant requires, which leads to…
  • What is the specific issue a participant wants you to manage?
    • Again, under the capacity building budget, a participant is allocated funding, to be spread across the life of their plan (e.g. 1 year) to support them to implement their NDIS plan.
    • If a participant is accessing funding under the Core budget, they will likely have a specific issue they want you to manage, and it may be more time limited and specific. For example, finding support workers/service providers for a support that has been withdrawn due to social distancing rules.
    • It will be vital to have this specific information documented in a service agreement, to ensure both yourself and the participant are clear about the expectations of what service will be provided. As well, conditions of how and when you will negotiate an extension of hours if required.

I know this is a lot of information to take in, but hopefully this will help you to process the impact of these changes on your support coordination role.

If you want to ask any questions, or are keen to talk to us about how else we can support you, please contact us anytime at info@scacademy.com.au or you can phone us on 1300 013 001.

Stay safe everyone, and we will be in touch again soon!

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