It might not seem like it, but the choice between an agency-managed, plan-managed or self-managed NDIS plan is a life-changing decision. This is because each option will either limit or increase the range of support providers that can be hired. We all know how much of a difference a good support can make, so when someone on the NDIS has found a great provider, they won’t want to be blocked from hiring them because of a technicality.
With agency management, the NDIS agency organises the financials for the plan. It’s the easiest option in terms of the extra admin work that needs to be completed by the care recipient, but it’s also the most restrictive in their choice of support provider: only providers registered with the NDIS can be used on an agency-managed plan. However, if the plan only has a few providers that are all registered – and the plan is unlikely to change – agency-managed funding is a perfectly good choice.
Managing your own plan (self-management)
Self-management will allow the care recipient to hire any provider, even if they aren’t registered and charge more than the hourly rate in the price guide. This means that literally anyone with an Australian Business Number (ABN) can be hired, even if they don’t have specialist disability experience. However, if a higher rate is paid the recipient will still need to make sure their budget will last the whole year, as their budget would only have considered the NDIS hourly rates
Some support providers have complained NDIS prices are set too low, so self-management is great if the care recipient wants to hire a provider that charges above the price limit. Buyer beware, some providers charge the maximum price possible with little regard to what the fee should be delivering in terms of value and quality of service. When this happens, the recipient doesn’t get value in their plan, they lose hours of service and might have their self-management status reviewed.
Another downside of self-managed plans is the administration, including, record keeping, segregating funds, claiming and paying providers. The care recipient is responsible for keeping records of every transaction on the plan for five years. If they lose a few receipts, or the ink on them just fades away, there will be trouble if the agency decides to conduct an audit. While it is possible for recipients to hire support to help manage their plan, this will come out of their budget. Overall, for people that don’t mind being their own accountant who need to pay above the price limits, self-management is a good option.
Using a plan management provider
Plan-managed funding allows care recipients to hire unregistered supports, but without all the work of self-managed funding. With this option recipients hire a plan manager to organise payments and store all records on their behalf, kind of like their own personal book-keeper for their NDIS plan. There is also extra funding available to pay the plan manager, so money won’t be taken away from other supports. The only downside here is the NDIS won’t let recipients pay supports more than the price limit.
A great thing about being able to hire supports that aren’t registered with the NDIS is it allows people to get more involved in their community, because they can use providers that don’t specialise in disability. If the care recipient has someone in mind, but that provider isn’t registered with the NIDS, then with plan-management or self-management the recipient can still hire them.
The NDIS is intended to allow people with a disability to live more independent lives and have more control over the support services they rely on. But having too much control can also create a lot of extra work, which is why plan management makes sense.
No matter what the care recipient decides on when they are setting up their plan, they can change their mind later. It’s also possible to use a combination of different management options. For example, the recipient might self-manage payments to that one amazing provider who happens to charge more than the price limit and have everything else handled by a plan manager.