There is a lot of information about the Corona Virus, including the restrictions being put in place and how you need to keep yourself safe from infection. There is also a lot of talk about essential and non-essential services.
From our point of view, we consider support coordination to be an essential service, as you work directly with Participants to coordinate access to the supports and services they need.
At this difficult time, we need to look out for each other, so one of the ways we are doing this is through staying connected with you, so we can understand your challenges in continuing to provide a service.
Our priority is to work with support coordinators, organisations and managers to identify ways you can continue to be productive and deliver services safely.
The NDIS Minister announced a range of measures, for both Participants and Service Providers, to ensure continuity of service and to let you know they are developing action plans to manage the situation.
Let’s have a look at some of the things you need to be aware of, and how you can continue to deliver a support coordination service in this constantly changing environment.
Some of the immediate measures you will notice are, a Participant’s NDIS plan may be extended for 24 months and telephone meetings for new Participants and reviews, will now be the norm.
The NDIA can also make amendments to NDIS plans, to increase the flexibility of the funding by shifting funds from Capacity Building to the Core budget if required.
The Participants you are working with, may also receive contact from the NDIA to ensure they can continue to receive the essential disability supports needed. This is if they are assessed as having high and complex needs or are at a higher risk of infection.
In acknowledgement of cash flow issues for service providers in the current environment, registered NDIS providers, can receive a one-month advance payment based on a monthly average of supports delivered in the previous three months.
To cover the additional costs of service delivery for existing supports, a 10% COVID-19 loading will be added to price limits for up to six months. These supports include:
- Core Supports – Assistance with Daily Life (excluding Supported Independent Living) and Assistance with Social and Community Participation
- Capacity Building Supports – Improved Daily Living
As well, there will be increased flexibility of the NDIA’s cancellation pricing policy to allow service providers to charge 100% for the cost of a cancelled service, and the definition of “short notice cancellation” will also be extended.
Service providers can also continue to claim for the increased use of cleaning and personal protective equipment associated with the Corona Virus. This is in recognition of needing to develop and implement Corona Virus Action Plans to mitigate the risk of infection when providing support to Participants.
What does this mean for you as a Support Coordinator?
These are likely to be the first of many measures to be put in place by the NDIA, to manage the impact of the Corona Virus on the disability sector, so keeping up to date with the changes is going to be crucial. Here are the links for updates on the NDIS website and the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission.
However, there are specific things you are going to have to think about as they will impact on the way you now deliver your service. Let’s look at these now.
No doubt you will have to increase your phone contact with Participants, as opposed to providing home visits. Some of the other ways you can think of communicating, especially if your Participant’s are keen to have some face to face time, is via Skype or WhatsApp.
If home visits or other face to face contact is absolutely necessary and has not been ruled out by the government restrictions, then at a minimum you will need to develop a risk assessment and identify strategies to put in place, to ensure you can mitigate the risk of infection.
Think of the best way to communicate any changes about the way you deliver your service. Talking it through directly with the Participant, family, carers etc. or providing written information in a way they can clearly understand.
Participant’s NDIS Plan:
If a Participant is coming up for a review, find out if the plan has been extended. There are a number of ways you can do this:
- by contacting the Participant directly to see if they’ve received any notice from the NDIA or if the plan has been updated in their portal,
- contacting the NDIA through the 1800 number, email or web chat if you have consent to act on the Participant’s behalf, or
- if relevant, contacting their Plan Manager.
When thinking about the Participants you are working with, have a think about how you prioritise your day to day work. Some people will need increased contact and ongoing maintenance, if they are at a higher risk due to the current environment.
These could include Participants who:
- have health issues that put them at risk e.g. those with a reduced immune system or have a respiratory illness
- due to the impact of their disability, may have behaviours that put them at risk, due to having limited insight into the need for social distancing etc.
The NDIA have started to put financial assistance in place for Service Providers, so hopefully this will reduce the numbers withdrawing from providing support. However, when having contact with Service Providers, have a think about the things you will need to understand, like:
- if they have a Corona Virus Action Plan, and the strategies they are putting in place to operate safely within this environment;
- how these Plans will impact on the Participant, and if it is still viable for them to access their services;
- if the Participant can no longer access a specific service, is there another Service Provider option available;
- are there community or mainstream service options available and is there an option to access the funding to purchase other services to provide support; or
- if required, do you need to contact the NDIA to request changes to a Participant’s plan to increase funding flexibility, to shift funds from the Capacity Building to Core budgets.
These are just a few practical strategies you can start to think about, especially in relation to how you can change the way you go about your day to day work and can continue to be productive.
The government are telling us the current operating environment is going to be around for at least the next six months, and it is likely to worsen. There are a number of ways we can help in these challenging times, including Coaching support to work through and develop strategies to ensure viability of your service, through our online workshops or Toolkit resources.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or you can phone us on 1300 013 001.
Stay safe everyone, and we will be in touch again soon!