You’ve got a plan - great! But now what? How do you start to put it into action?
Finding and comparing the different providers and what they offer can be an unsettling process. Even if your NDIS plan has only one or two items, assessing your options and making a decision may seem overwhelming at times. This is not helped by the fact that the disability service industry in WA has been in constant flux for the past couple of years and things seem to change on a monthly basis.
You need to choose a provider to help you get the most out of your plan, so getting the right information and doing your own research is really important. At the crux of it, finding the support you need to live the life you want, is the real goal. It pays to get it right from the start, with the right provider.
Here’s a step by step guide to get your plan implemented, and some things to consider along the way.
Step 1. Understand your plan
Make sure you understand your plan and get help to put it into action. If you are under the NDIA you can choose your own Coordinator of Supports to help you understand your plan and get it up and running. Under WANDIS you will be allocated a Local Coordinator (LC) that can help you with this.
It’s also useful to know that an NDIS specialist provider can also help you to understand your plan, and even help you to put it into action. Some providers have been in individualised support for years and already have a wealth of experience in bringing all the elements of a plan together for people. They’ll even be able to help you find a complementary provider if there are any elements of your plan that they don’t provide.
Step 2. Find providers that can help you
Your NDIS plan may be fairly straight forward with only a single item or it may have many different support areas and budgets. No matter how complicated it is, you need to find the providers that can help with the different domains of your plan. Be sure to look at your options, there are many providers out there that offer the services listed in your plan - but they are not all the same, and not all providers will suit you.
So, who are the providers that can provide the services in your plan and how do you find them? Your LC or Coordinator of Supports can help you with a list of providers, or you can visit the NDIS or Department of Communities (Disability Services).
Step 3. Decide if you want one provider or a range of providers
Now you have a list of providers, it’s really important to consider who's going to do what in your plan.
While it may be necessary to have more than one provider to cover any gaps in a particular provider’s services, you need to make a decision about whether you want to keep as many of your supports together with the one provider as possible, or whether you want to go with multiple organisations to take care of different aspects of your plan.
This comes down to how many providers you want to be involved with - a fundamental decision that often gets overlooked.
There are pros and cons with both approaches.
Having a single provider for your NDIS plan means you have one organisation to deal with and one service agreement. Having a single provider also provides the opportunity to build a meaningful relationship over time with that organisation and your support worker(s). It also means fewer people coming through your door each week.
On the other hand, you may consider that having more than one provider will bring you into contact with more people providing a bit of diversity as they come and go to perform your plan. This may be an important consideration particularly for people that may be socially or physically isolated.
However, having many providers for the different elements of your plan means you’ll have to manage several relationships with each of these providers. If this is your preference consider how you will coordinate them and how their visiting days and times will integrate.
It’s a good idea to find out how many people you will be dealing with for each provider (a coordinator, a manager, how many different support workers?). Can you manage all of these relationships? Think about how having multiple people calling will fit with your lifestyle and family structure. Will it add to your comfort or intrude on your privacy?
And remember, as well as managing multiple people you will need to manage multiple service agreements (one for each provider).
These are things to consider when you’re deciding how many providers you’ll choose.
Step 4. Choose a provider
This is another big one! It’s so important to choose a provider you can get on with and that understands you and your family. You need to make a connection - remember you’re relying on them to help you get the life you want. Look for a provider that listens to you and is prepared to help you get there - no matter how long it takes.
The best way to help you make this decision is to have conversations with your prospective providers and ask lots of questions to help you understand if they’re right for you.
Here are some things you might like to know to get you started - will your staff be ‘your staff’? Will you have the same staff each time to provide your personal care? Will they get to know you and how you like to be looked after?
Also, consider who are you meeting to discuss these questions with. Is it management or someone that can answer your questions and make decisions without deferring to someone else? Are they interested in building a long term relationship with the people they provide support to? Are they willing to spend the time to get to know you so they can match you with the right support people ? Do they have a ‘can do’ approach? Are they looking for ways they can work for you rather than how to fit you into the services they offer.
If you’re comfortable with someone keep asking questions - call them back or meet them again if you need to. If they are genuinely committed to providing individualised support - one person at a time - your support provider should be keen for you to ask any questions and talk about what you need. A good provider will even help you with the questions you need to ask.
Here’s another blog we’ve written to help you assess your prospective providers.
Step 5. You’re ready to implement your plan!
Once you've chosen your provider or providers, you'll have a written service agreement with them all for the next 12 months. Don't forget you have the ability to change your provider if the need arises.
Always remember you’re in control, it’s your plan. Work with your service provider and tell them when something's not working or you’re not happy. Let them know when things are going well too. They will want to know.