Questions to ask and evidence you need, to get funding for it in your NDIS plan
Your NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) Plan is a roadmap for your life for at least the next 12 months, so you’ve got to get it right. And if you’re new to the NDIS world, it’s important to know how to prepare for your initial planning meeting, so that your Planner understands your support needs and circumstances well, and you can get the funding you need.
If you’re intending to self-manage your funding, there are supports and services available to you to help you find and engage supports, and liaise with support providers, and even help to assist you to manage your funds.
In this article, we’ll explain the role of a Support Coordinator, and give you some tips on how to find the right one for you, so you know how you can implement your new NDIS plan and start achieving your goals.
But first, what is support coordination?
Support coordination is an NDIS-funded service to help participants like you, find and connect with supports and services to ensure you get the best out of your funding. They’ll help build your ability to exercise choice and control by linking you to community, mainstream and government services, negotiate with providers, and ensure you get the most out of your plan (ndis.gov).
Ultimately, their goal is to teach you the skills to operate your plan independently. And in many regional areas, and places where the market for supports and services are still growing, support coordination is an important lifeline to ensure you get what you need.
There are three levels of support coordination that you may be eligible for in your plan, depending on your circumstances. Talk to your LAC (Local Area Coordinator), Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Coordinator or Planner, to figure out which of these would best help you.
1. Support Connection: This is most often short-term assistance to help you source a range of support services and providers that meet your needs. Your Support Coordinator will assist by negotiating with providers on your behalf, about what they can provide you, the costs involved, and they’ll ensure your service agreements and bookings are complete. In this instance you are still responsible for scheduling all your support and selecting your providers. In the first participant plan, Support Connection may be granted for the whole 12 months.
2. Support Coordination: This level of service provides the same assistance as Support Connection (above), but with a greater emphasis on addressing barriers and resolving service delivery issues in a more complex environment. They’ll help you manage your relationships with service and support providers, and work to assist you get a good mix of services so that you can be included in your community.
3. Specialist Support Coordination: This is a more detailed and complex level of Support Coordination. If you’re a participant that requires high intensity supports because you have more complex needs, this level of Support Coordination is designed to ensure you get consistent services with a more hands-on approach. Your Specialist Support Coordinator will be qualified as an Occupational Therapist, Psychologist or Social Worker and may help you across a range of areas such as: health, education or justice services. This is more like case management.
Getting the right Support Coordinator
Unfortunately, there are many people who have engaged Support Coordinators that aren’t doing their job properly and participants are missing out on services they require to participate in the community and achieve their goals. So, it’s important that you do your research before engaging anyone.
There are many ways to search for Support Coordinators in your area.
Search for them using the Provider Finder Tool on myplace,
Ask for recommendations in your local NDIS Facebook Groups
Search for them on Google
Or your LAC or ECEI partner may take on the role themselves, or recommend one to you.
We recommend hiring an independent Support Coordinator, and not someone who you’ve engaged to provide other services – such as Plan Management.
There is a real risk of a conflict of interest.
Disability Service Consulting (DSC) reckon that the best Support Coordinators are the ones who offer that one service, because “their reputation in doing a great job is key in building their business.”
Whereas providers offering multiple roles might prioritise services from organisations they know well, rather than searching for individualised options for participants. No two people require the same level of support – so it’s important you ask potential Support Coordinators lots of questions.
You want to be sure of their background and expertise, and get their thoughts on how they have helped people in a similar situation to yours.
Questions to ask your Support Coordinator before you hire them
Please. Don’t hire a Support Coordinator straight away. Reach out and get recommendations from peers. Their experiences will help you decide if your new Support Coordinator is suitable for you.
We’ve combined our own experiences and online research here to give you some ideas on questions you might like to ask. (Sources: DSC’s ‘Support Coordination: On the Money’ and Valid’s ‘How do I choose a Support Coordinator?’)
How long have you been offering Support Coordination as a service, and in my area?
Do you know the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA’s) systems and requirements back-to-front?
Have you worked with people similar to me before? (Goals, interests, family or living situation, age, disability type, support needs, etc.).
How much success have you had helping people achieve their goals? Can you give me some examples?
What ideas do you have around how we would achieve my goals?
How well do you know the supports and services in my area, and the providers and services that I’m thinking of using?
Can you get me up to speed using myplace? (If your LAC or ECEI Coordinator hasn’t already).
What success have you had in negotiating service delivery, agreements and prices on behalf of other participants? Can you give me an example?
Are you experienced in, and know the requirements for applications and documents within the NDIS?
What are your prices? How will you charge me? What is included?
What is your notice period for ending our service agreement, should I wish to change to another Support Coordinator?
Then ask yourself, “How open and honest was your Support Coordinator in answering your questions?”.
You’ll be working closely with them over the life of your plan, so it’s important you feel like they have your best interests at heart. You should feel comfortable and have confidence that you’ll be supported by someone you can trust.
How do I get funding for Support Coordination?
Support Coordination is categorised as a ‘capacity building support’ under the NDIS. At its most basic connection level, the focus is on increasing your skills to self-manage, giving you choice and control through independence.
This means that the NDIS is likely to invest in more Support Coordination funding within your first plan, with the aim of decreasing this in subsequent plans, because you’ve built the skills required to navigate the NDIS.
Long term Support Coordination
There are some cases however, where Support Coordination will be required long term. As we mentioned above, the disability sector is continuing to grow but there are still many remote areas without the support services participants like you need close by, and it’s harder for you to find what you need. If this is you, and you’re struggling to find help – tell your Planner that you need a Support Coordinator to continue to assist you.
There are also grants available for providers to enable them to grow their services, and extend their reach to remote communities. If you know of anyone who would benefit, why not tell them?
Capacity for independence
There are of course many other participants who will require ongoing Support Coordination. Rachel Paramor, Managing Partner of Greenlight Human Capital, explains what a participant who had a significant intellectual impairment, for example, would need to do differently.
“For that certain group of people, [they would need to explain] why a Support Coordinator teaching them the tools to be independent isn’t going to be feasible in the longer term, in order to receive ongoing support.”
In either case, Rachel recommends providing supporting documentation like Occupational Therapy (OT) Functional Assessment reports, medical and prognosis reports to your planning meeting, to help argue why you need funding for Support Coordination.
Rachel said, “Evidence is important.” Those reports will show how independently you can function, and how independently you’re likely to function in the future.
For a great guide on what to include in your meeting, see this article. Preparing for your NDIS planning meeting: Your ultimate checklist.
As with everything you request in your plan, the NDIA approve what they deem is reasonable and necessary. The more evidence you provide to prove you need Support Coordination, the better your chances of getting funding will be.
If you’re not sure how to compile all this information for your plan, we recommend you check out the free NDIS Pre-planning Tool. It will help you build your plan and prepare you for your planning meeting.
Over to you
Did this blog answer some questions you had about Support Coordination? What experiences have you had hiring a Support Coordinator, good or bad? Comment below, and keep the conversation going.