The NDIS offers people more freedom and control over their supports and lives than ever before. But for some, a little bit of extra support is needed to help them get the most out of the NDIS. The NDIS can include support coordination in your NDIS plan to help you find and connect with the service providers that are the best fit for your situation. But how does the NDIS determine whether you are eligible for support coordination?
What is support coordination?
The NDIS defines support coordination as “…a capacity building support to implement all supports in a participant’s plan, including informal, mainstream, community and funded supports.”
To break that down a little, that’s essentially saying that support coordination is designed to help you find and connect with the service providers that are best suited to meet your needs and achieve your goals.
There are several ways support coordinators can help you to get the most out of your NDIS plan, from start to finish. Some of the ways they can do that include:
- Providing insights on your NDIS plan: Once you get your NDIS plan, knowing what to do next to put it into action and achieve your stated goals can be daunting. A support coordinator can help by working closely with you to examine your plan and identify exactly the kinds of supports you can access under your plan.
- Finding and connecting you with local providers: Given the huge amount of service providers within the NDIS marketplace, finding one that’s suited to your needs, goals and plan budget can be tricky. support coordinators will match you with the right service provider for your specific situation and then help you to reach out and contact them.
- Setting up service agreements: Once you sign up with a service provider, setting up a service agreement helps ensure you’re protected and receive a certain standard of care. A support coordinator can assist with this process, contacting your service provider, sending them a service agreement to sign and then keeping it on file.
- Offering ongoing advice and guidance: As an expert on the NDIS, a support coordinator can provide you with guidance over the course of your NDIS journey. If you have any questions, or if any issues with providers arise, your support coordinator can help you to resolve them.
As you can see, support coordination is a pretty broad support, covering a wide range of activities. The one thing that ties them all together is that they’re designed to help give people the skills and confidence they need to navigate the NDIS on their own.
So, who is eligible for support coordination?
Unlike plan management, support coordination is not available to all NDIS participants. The NDIS only funds support coordination in cases where participants…
- Are likely to develop the skills and confidence needed to be able to navigate the NDIS independently. This is called capacity building and it’s an important part of the NDIS and support coordination – but more on that later.
- Don’t have an informal support network that could otherwise provide a similar style of support. So, if you don’t have family, friends or other contacts with the time and knowledge to help you find and connect with service providers, the NDIS might fund a support coordinator to provide that support.
- Are likely to gain a tangible benefit from having the assistance of a support coordinator.
- Are new to the NDIS and receiving their first plan or going through a significant life change. We’ll take a closer look at the role timing plays in support coordination eligibility shortly.
The NDIS assesses each participant on a case-by-case basis to see whether they are eligible or not. If you request funding for support coordination in your planning meeting, the NDIS looks at your individual situation to decide whether you meet the criteria.
Capacity building: The tools to empower independence
One of the NDIS’s main goals is to enable people with a disability to become as independent as possible and have active social, economic and civic lives. This vision of allowing people with a disability to live an ordinary life is central to the concept of capacity building.
If we think about support coordination in this context, it can help us understand exactly what it is trying to accomplish. If a support coordinator does their job perfectly, they will hopefully not be needed in the longer term as they will instil in their clients the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to set and achieve their goals.
A matter of timing – supporting your transition
As a capacity building support, support coordination is not intended to be offered on an ongoing basis. It’s generally only funded a year at a time and looks to reduce the number of hours needed as the participant’s independence grows.
As we touched on earlier, participants are often only eligible for support coordination during a participant’s first NDIS plan, as this is when they’re working out the ins-and-outs of the NDIS and learning about the supports they can access through their plan. During this phase, a support coordinator can act as a guide, teaching them the ropes so they can manage their supports independently in the future.
Similarly, you may be eligible for support coordination if you are going through a significant life change, such as moving to a regional area or transitioning into supported accommodation. In this case, it’s intended to serve as a minor refresher, helping them adjust to the changed conditions and regain your independence.
Giving yourself the best chance
So, if you think you’d benefit from having support coordination in your plan, what can you do?
Firstly, make sure you go into your planning meeting well prepared, bringing any documentation that highlights how support coordination would help you. Remember to tie your request back to the idea of capacity building and be clear about how it will help you to achieve your goals, and think about the eligibility criteria we’ve outlined above and consciously highlight how each applies to you.