Have you recently received your NDIS plan, and or had a plan reset or simply wish to change the service provider and don't know where to start? Don't you worry - we will be covering simple tips on finding the right provider in your area.
Having adequate funding in your plan as you expected is a very good feeling, and we understand it very well. As support coordinators, we have sat with so many NDIS participants in their ndis planning meetings, and we know that sometimes it is not easier to get the funding you wish for and may have to navigate a lot to get your voice heard. Getting that dream plan with the funding you wished for, to kick start your support journey is a step closer to achieving your goals. When we see the ndis participants having smiles on their faces with that feeling, we experience and feel great joy.
Under NDIS, you have total choice and control and you are the driver.
So how do you start with your new or first NDIS plan?
How to navigate through the google search engine system to find registered or unregistered providers?
How to simply change to a provider who can understand your needs well?
Hence it is important to get an idea of the options you may have.
The first thing and probably easiest would be to speak to people who you may know and have been in and/or with NDIS and may have gone through the journey before.
Local area coordinators, social workers, support people, support agencies around you, or your mental health social worker if you have one.
Thanks to the internet, Google, and smartphone technology - as it has definitely revolutionized the way we do things in our life. Check reviews of the providers and their ratings to further shortlist the best providers.
Why is it so important to choose the right provider?
Choosing a provider that is suitable to your needs and that you feel more comfortable with, is important and can make you feel very supported. It can make your NDIS experience a lot smoother and can help you make the most out of your NDIS plan.
The below article may guide you through different options available to you and demystify the roles of certain professionals who can guide you in your search.
As mentioned earlier - it is best to do a bit of research and talk to people who you know and who have some experience with NDIS. Google can be your best friend too in running a search if you can with a mobile device or on a computer (If you have access to one) and try and make a list of providers in your local area on a piece of paper with their rating and google reviews.
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. Being with a local provider would mean that you are always easily connected and can reach your support people and their office if need be, and a higher possibility of success as well. A large provider (if you find a better one) who is far away from your local area can also give you a better quality service, so keep your options open.
So, 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, and 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
How can support coordinators assist you in your search?
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 things and further assisting and guiding 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, guide 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 on 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.
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 is 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
NDSP Plan manager portal
Hire and organize your own 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 managing their shifts and rosters directly by engaging with the carer.
They are independent contractors who list themselves 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.