Updated: Sep 30, 2021
If you have recently received your NDIS plan, with the funds exactly as you expected, it gives you hope to live a life that you always desired.
It is indeed a great feeling that gives such a sense of accomplishment. We have experienced it and have felt the exact joy, as we stand by the side, voluntarily assisting in the coordination of the application for NDIS.
Once you receive your new plan, the next step is to start searching for a service provider; who is going to be the best fit based on your support needs. every individual has their own unique needs. With the advent of the internet and smartphones on our palms, our life has become much easier.
Finding the right NDIS service provider can sometimes be a time-intensive process or it may be confusing and overwhelming for some, especially if it is your first plan, you are unsure where to start or if you have little or no support.
Under NDIS, you have total choice and control to choose your preferred provider or a support person. Hence it is important to do some search to get an idea of the options you may have.
Choosing a provider that is suitable to your needs and finding someone you are comfortable with, is important and can make you feel supported. It can make your NDIS experience a lot smoother and can help you make the most out of your NDIS plan. Hence, I have written the below piece of the article that will walk you through different options available to you and have explained the roles of certain professionals who can guide you in your search.
To start with - it is best to do a bit of research and talk to people who you know and have some experience with NDIS. Google can be your best friend as well, run a search and make a list of providers in your local area. Local providers can offer you more personalized service as they may have staff working locally and sometimes smaller providers are keen to support locally like a small community and a family. This would mean that you are always well connected to your support people and the office, and a higher possibility of success, nonetheless, a large provider can also give you the same quality service regardless of the location, as it is all about ethos and ethics at the end of the day.
It is important to contact 2 to 3 providers, to begin with. It would be even better if you write down your questions as a list on a piece of paper, to ask these questions to the provider you contact. Do not hesitate to ask as many questions as per your list as it will help you evaluate and make a selection based on your preference.
You can make a list of some questions and can ask these questions when you speak to the provider, such as - What is the provider's knowledge or experience in the disability sector, their staff availability, their wait time to start the service (some providers may have wait times), their fees structure, agreement process, etc. You may also ask your provider if they can meet you face to face and discuss things in person in greater detail.
If your plan is plan-managed or self-managed, there exists even greater flexibility to choose providers, as in that case you have the option to use any provider whether registered or non-registered. But with greater flexibility, it is even more important to do proper checks in regards to the provider’s service quality, staff, and pricing.
If you have support coordination built and funded within your plan, it makes things a bit easier. In this case, you must first search and select a support coordinator. You can even ask your LAC to help you find one. If you have a specific language preference, you should choose a support coordinator who understands your language and other preferences you may have. Again go locally and use the tips above. Once you have found your support coordinator, you can discuss your options and choices with your Support Coordinator. A good support coordinator can make it a lot easier for you to then execute your plan for other support requirements you may have.
Should you don’t have support coordination funding, not to worry - you can speak to your Local Area Coordinator or your Plan Manager to help you search for service providers in your area.
Also, NDIA has a participant portal. You can use your MYGOV account or create one and link NDIS as a service to it so that it can help you search providers based on your postcode. NDIA participant portal can be accessed from the link here - https://auth.my.gov.au/las/login?execution=e1s1
Not sure what is support coordination service and how can it help you?
Support Coordination is capacity-building support. It is the funding available in your plan to have a professional coordinator who can work with you, helping you not just find the right service providers however they can also help you engage with providers by explaining you things and further assist and guide you to build your knowledge and capacity so that you can be able to coordinate for your plan by your own in future.
Also, they are knowledgeable people within the field and can help you with your plan queries, guiding you to your goals, and assist you to put in a review for your plan, should your circumstances change after your plan has been made.
However, not every plan will have funding for Support Coordination, and its availability in your plan is further based upon your needs, the complexity of your NDIS plan, and so forth.
You may ask for Support Coordination in your next planning meeting with the NDIS planner – if you wish to build your capacity to coordinate your plan by yourself in the future.
Not sure who are Local Area Coordinators and how to reach them?
If your plan does not include Support Coordination, you may also contact your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) to look for service providers for your support.
A list of LAC can be accessed from the NDIS website. Access this link here – https://www.ndis.gov.au/contact/locations and enter your postcode. It will bring up a search for NDIA office locations, LAC officers, and ECEI coordinators in your area.
Carer Gateway is an initiative by the Australian Government - Department of Social Services and is a pathway that will help you connect with a new Australia-wide network of Carer Gateway service providers.
You can talk to a Carer Gateway service provider by calling 1800 422 737 Monday to Friday between 8 am and 5 pm.
Carer Gateway staff will talk through what you need and help you to find services and support. If you want to talk with someone in your language, you can phone the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450
Making Use of Directories
The NDIS Portal may help you with a list of providers, based on your postcode. You can also search providers based on their names, but if you do not have access to the NDIS participant portal or if working with another portal being not a good idea then another option is to browse certain NDIS provider directories to help you find providers. These directories may have a list of both registered and unregistered providers in your area and have ratings and reviews that can help you further make a selection.
Some of these directories are listed below:
· My Care Space
· Disability Support Guide
Hire and organize your Support Workers
There are certain platforms where you can hire and manage your support workers. This means you can directly get involved with the carers listed on these platforms without having to go through a service provider.
By using these organizations, one has control over whom to select as the carers have their profiles and ratings. This allows managing and selecting the staff you think is best for you and manage their shifts and rosters directly by engaging with the carer.
They are independent contractors who list them as a service giver under their own ABN. Another advantage of such portals is that you pay a lesser rate than compared to a registered provider as much of the service arrangement is done and managed by you and you are yourself responsible for any issues or challenges you may face during your service experience. Some of these platforms are:
· Mable (formerly Better Caring)
· Find a Carer
· Like Family
· Care Seekers
Even if you start working with a provider and feel that the provider does not meet your needs, there is always an option to change your provider by giving them the notice that is stipulated in your signed agreement and move to someone else who you think is the right choice.