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Are you ready to be an NDIS provider?

ACWA Inc - Thursday, August 30, 2018
There is no denying that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is complex, but rightly so. It’s a comprehensive scheme designed to support people with different needs, goals and preferences - all while regulating service providers big and small. Reasonable checks and balances are crucial to ensuring the NDIS delivers on its promises.

You don’t have to register to provide services under the NDIS but doing so grows your user base. The fact that you have met quality standards can also reassure participants when choosing a preferred provider.

Getting ready to register involves a lot of work and we have some guidance to share. If you want to become an unregistered provider, some details we discuss may not be mandatory for you but still stand as a best practice benchmark.

We’re not going to take you step by step through the registration process itself because the NDIA does this best with its online toolkit. NSW and SA readers should start here.

PS. We’ve noticed how the NDIA explains the registration process has improved. If you visited the toolkit earlier and found it too mysterious: do take a second look.

Laying the groundwork

Make sure this is the right move for you. Community work aims to reduce barriers to inclusion while working with people to help them thrive. This aligns perfectly with the NDIS but there’s more to it than just shared goals.

The provider readiness checklist takes you through the major considerations and this will involve some research. You need to understand local demand, for example, before you decide on your services.

Services and supports are allocated to registration groups based on their level of risk. To register you must pick the group or groups that match what you want to offer: the guide to suitability explains the options and requirements.

The range of services welfare workers can deliver under the NDIS covers 10 registration groups. As Bruce Nixon, Holocentric CEO, pointed out in his guest post: this is more than any other profession. Visit Bruce’s blog for a full run-down on the specific services welfare workers can offer.

Disability support workers have a choice of 9 registration groups.

Quality control from the get-go

Without exception you must have a relevant qualification. For welfare workers, a diploma is the minimum. For disability support workers, we recommend at least a certificate IV. Lower qualifications introduce you to community work but won’t prepare you for the level of practice people with disability are entitled to.

Next you should consider the skills needed to support participants. For each, would you rate your abilities as basic, intermediate or advanced? Person-centred care and cultural competence are non-negotiable. You should also understand the technologies and equipment - assistive technology - that participants may use.

Short courses and workshops can address gaps and top-up formal training. If you have an older or highly specialised qualification, you should update or broaden your skills.

These professional requirements equip you for practice but there are also pre-requisites for your business. These standards differ by state and territory - be aware that the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) is rolling out to put all providers under a consistent framework by July 2020. NSW and SA are already under its jurisdiction.

Your business should have systems to manage:
  • Complaints
  • Conflicts of interest 
  • Reportable incidents
Audits will be relative to the size of the provider, so don’t panic if you’re going it alone.

There are other processes to imbed in your business even though they may not be necessary for registration. Don’t use this as an excuse to ignore or overlook their importance. Reflective practice, for example, is essential to continuous improvement. How will you access regular professional supervision? Do you know who will you turn to for debriefing?

Time-savers

Investigating model policies and procedures can make setting up your service that much easier. The NDIS Commission itself has guidance on complaint and incident management systems that you can use when drafting your own.

Ideaswa has produced a policy and procedures resource manual that is disability services (although not NDIS) specific. Community Door has templates that may be fit to adapt and the Institute of Company Directors has a policy bank. The Department of Human Services (SA) also shares examples of best practice.

ACWA and the NDIS

The NDIS regulatory systems were developed with reference to existing professional body requirements. In fact, before signing on as an NDIS provider, you may need to register with a professional association - to offer services as a welfare worker that’s us!

We are the membership body for Australian community workers across all fields. If you hold a diploma or higher, you may be able eligible for membership. If you have a certificate qualification, you can register with us at a support worker level. Because we are not field specific, you can still enjoy an association with us if you move beyond disability services.

We ensure professionals are qualified, ethical, and professionally current. Registered members must adhere to the Australian Community Workers Code of Ethics and participate in professional development each year. We have tools, resources and services to support practitioners to meet these requirements.

Through us, you will be linked into the sector and a community of peers. You will also appear on our public register, so participants and their families or carers can verify your credentials for their peace of mind. If you have a diploma or higher, membership comes with professional indemnity and public liability insurance up to $20,000,000.

At times it may seem like you are being regulated twice. Crossover is inevitable given that professionalism is inherent to quality services. The NDIS Commission is committed to working with us and other bodies to manage overlapping areas and minimise duplication. As a stakeholder, we also receive updates that let us prepare practitioners for important changes.

For more on joining us, visit: www.acwa.org.au/membership/eligibility
For more on becoming an NDIS provider, visit: www.ndis.gov.au/providers.html

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