Put down the pen and back away from the service agreement... Although having a service agreement in place for each support and service you receive is important, it’s even more important that you understand your service agreements and know what you are signing before you sign. If something is missing from your service agreement, remember that you have choice and control. You can request to have the service agreement modified to ensure that it includes all the key information and details necessary for a service agreement. If you’re unsure of what should be included in a service agreement, check out our top FIVE tips for service agreements below.
Top Tip #1: Let’s talk ‘who, what, where, when, and how’
When it comes to your service agreement, it should clearly outline:
Who the agreement is between (i.e., you and your service provider OR you, your nominee, guardian etc., and your service provider) and who the agreement is permitted to be shared with,
What support is being provided and the pricing for that support,
Where and when that support will be provided as well as the start and end date of the service agreement, and
How often you will receive that support for that price
It’s important to clarify that these details are included in the agreement so that there is no miscommunication between you and your service provider.
Top Tip #2: All about the money (money, money…)
We know that not everyone likes to talk about money, but when it comes to the support services that you receive, it is vital to understand what the cost of that service can be, and if there are any additional costs involved (such as travel). Make sure that all anticipated costs and additional fees are included in your service agreement, and if they’re not, then it is within your rights to request that they be added or to question any charges for items that are not listed or approved by you. A well-structured service agreement should list each individual support using the relevant item code from the NDIS Pricing Arrangements, the upper maximum allowable limit, and the actual agreed price, to determine the price difference between the two and the total cost of each item.
Another great reason for understanding the full cost involved, and having it outlined in your service agreement, is that it can be used as a guide for how frequently you can access that support based on your overall NDIS plan funding. As your Plan Manager, we can help you to better understand your budgets and how to break them down into cost per hour and frequency of supports and services. Having your service agreements with other providers on file can help us, help you. This can ensure your commitments are covered by your available funding and to avoid overspending or underspending on your budgets.
Top Tip #3: Conflicts, changes, and cancellations
Sometimes conflicts between you and your service providers may arise, and if this happens, it’s a good idea to ensure that the complaints policy is clearly outlined in your service agreement. That way, if you have questions or concerns that you wish to raise regarding the services provided, you will know exactly how you can do this. If ever you are unsure about this, you can also speak directly with the NDIS, you Support Coordinator or the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.
Changes and cancellation policies should also be clearly outlined for both you and your service provider. If you or your service provider wish to change or cancel the services being provided, then there is likely to be a notice period which typically ranges from 10 to 14 days. All changes should be signed off in writing.
Top Tip #4: Keeping up with your service agreement
Your service agreement is a contract for a set period of time. However, there are some things that can change either during the service agreement period or when a new service agreement is due to commence. Rate limits are one of the things that can change. The NDIS may update rate limits to reflect any changes in the cost of labour and any other reasons that may affect pricing. Typically, changes to the rate limits are minimal but it is important that your service agreement outlines how you will be informed of any adjustments to the rate limits, as well as any other changes. In most cases, there will be 10 to 14 days of notice given before any changes are put into place.
At the outset of a service agreement with a new provider, expect an additional initial assessment fee, though when the first service agreement comes to an end, extensions to this service agreement should not attract another assessment fee.
Top Tip #5: Sign on the dotted line
Once you are satisfied with the service agreement, you or your nominee, guardian or other legally appointed decision-maker can sign the agreement.
It’s likely you have more than one service provider, which means you will have multiple service agreements (one for each support service you receive). The First2Care plan management team can hold a copy of these online for safe keeping and ease of reference via your Plan Magic portal access by emailing each service agreement to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can upload a digital copy.
A summary of all your uploaded service agreements will be stored for your review and the First2Care team will contact you when these service agreements are expiring and provide cost comparison on what other support providers charge rates are.
You can also check out the NDIS’ checklist called “things to think about when making a service agreement” here.
If you have any further questions on service agreements, you can speak with our First2Care team on 1300 322 273 or via email at email@example.com, alternatively you can speak with your personal client manager.