Sometimes it’s a job all of its own just to understand the NDIS terminology around self-management. And with this in mind I hope this blog will provide information in a way that’s easy to understand.
Some of the NDIS Financial Management terms are:
- Plan Manager
- Financial Intermediary
- Service Intermediary
- Coordination of Supports
- Support Connection
- Support Coordination
- Specialist Support Coordination
Any self-managed recipient under the NDIS will receive an allocated sum of money. This is broken into nine types of expenditure for a 12 month period. This is called a “Participant Plan”.
The NDIS participant has the right to spend this money as they please to achieve their goals in accordance with their NDIS Plan and for the agreed amount, within the allocated categories.
This can be likened to a monthly budget. You may spend money on food, or transport in getting around, clothes and maybe a meal out or a coffee or two!
While keeping track of your budget or “Participation Plan” may seem straight forward to begin with, in reality it will probably be time consuming and not that easy. While using the NDIS allocated funding, someone will need to liaise with service providers, claim monies to pay their invoices and make the payments (through the NDIS portal)– and at the same time keeping complete financial records.
This is where there is the opportunity for self-managed NDIS recipients and their representatives to seek assistance. All the definitions and terminology used by the NDIS play a role in how help (via your service providers) is funded and what is paid.
The NDIS have broken the help into two main categories:
1. “Coordination of Supports” is any assistance that might be required, no matter how complex, in contracting, scheduling, and monitoring service providers.
All the terms of “Support Connection”, “Support Coordination” and “Specialist Support Coordination” are just different levels of complexity from low to high with different charging rates.
The NDIS will only pay for “Coordination of Supports” where needed and for a limited time.
This support also fits into the NDIS “Capacity Building” purpose, meaning the intention is for this support to help NDIS recipients learn how to “coordinate” their own providers, without external support.
The idea behind this is similar to the Chinese proverb….
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
In some cases the “Coordinator of Supports” is already covered and paid for by the NDIS Local Area Coordination (LAC) if it is in place. LAC’s link recipients to the NDIS, to information and support in the community and work with their local community to make sure it is more welcoming and inclusive for people with disability. If LAC services are strong in an area, then it is unlikely additional funding will be given unless there is evidence of significant need.
2. “Plan Management” is upfront and ongoing help to cover the admin of organising and paying providers, processing expense claims, providing monthly statements for participants, and claiming from the NDIS. There is also limited support for finding and booking services. Both Financial Intermediary and Service Intermediary are components of “Plan Management”, that cover book-keeping and scheduling assistance.
Feedback from the current NDIS roll out is that “Service Intermediary” funding is rare, as this assistance is covered by other services – as above.
Self-Management is a right under the NDIS Act for NDIS recipients, and must be granted with occasional exceptions (depending on a risk review for the recipient). Funding for Plan Management must also be given on top of the agreed budget and be ongoing.
There will be instances when “Plan Management” is required. Plan Management is permanent administrative support, funded in addition to an NDIS recipient’s package. By contrast funded “Coordinator of Supports”, is temporary, funded by the NDIS and designed to teach the individual to self- manage or support.