What the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission means for you
If you are a provider of services to NDIS participants, you’ve probably heard about the new NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. Designed to protect people with disability, this Commission works with providers all around Australia to ensure they’re delivering a high level of service and support to NDIS participants. Since 1 July 2019 the Commission operates in all states, except for Western Australia (due on July 1, 2020).
At Plan Partners, we’re very familiar with the NDIS Commission, having implemented all Quality and Safeguards obligations in our organisation and successfully completed audits of our services.
In this article, we give an overview of what the NDIS Commission means for you - and share some handy tips on how to operate and thrive under it.
WHAT IS THE NDIS QUALITY AND SAFEGUARDS COMMISSION?
The NDIS Commission is an independent agency that’s been created to ensure all NDIS service providers are providing high-quality supports to people with disability. It does this by:
- educating providers on NDIS regulations;
- helping them resolve any issues that arise; and
- enforcing penalties on those that don’t comply.
The NDIS Commission is separate to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and will essentially take over anything relating to service providers, leaving the NDIA to focus on managing a well performing scheme.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PROVIDERS?
Service providers must now ensure they’re compliant with the NDIS Commission’s requirements, which are detailed in the next section. Providers that fail to meet these obligations can face disciplinary action, ranging all the way from simple education to being banned from the NDIS.
NDIS Commission Audits
The Commission will regularly ask service providers to get an independent audit done to determine whether they’re complying with the requirements. These audits can be an intensive process, requiring quite a bit of time, money and effort, but they also give some great insights into how you’re performing and what you can do to improve both the quality of your services, and the safety of your customers and staff.
Fortunately, for the majority of service providers there will be very little material change to their day to day operations, as these requirements simply formalise what many are already doing. In fact, the NDIS Commission simplifies things by setting out clear expectations that are standard all throughout the country.
WHAT ARE MY OBLIGATIONS?
Your obligations depend on:
- whether your organisation is registered with the NDIS; and
- the risks involved in the services you provide.
Obviously, for larger, high-risk organisations there are greater obligations and tighter scrutiny. There are four key obligations for service providers under the NDIS Commission.
1. The NDIS Code of Conduct
All service providers and workers must adhere to the ‘NDIS Code of Conduct’. The Code of Conduct outlines seven guidelines or rules that must be followed when dealing with NDIS participants. Designed to ensure people with disability are treated ethically, the Code of Conduct covers things like respect of privacy, delivering supports with care, and acting on concerns around safety.
2. Complaints management
Service providers must have a complaints management process in place to work with participants that have raised a complaint. This process needs to be easy to access, fully-documented, focused on and support the person making the complaint, and be regularly reviewed.
3. Incident management
Service providers need to have a system in place to record all incidents that occur and take measures to prevent them from happening again. Serious incidents, such as the assault of an NDIS participant, need to be reported to the NDIS Commission within 24 hours.
4. Worker screening
Service providers must ensure any staff that have any meaningful contact with NDIS participants have been appropriately screened. The NDIS Commission is developing a national screening database that providers can use to ensure that staff have the relevant clearance.
OUR TOP TIPS
- Don’t fear the change - embrace it! Complying to the new obligations presents a real opportunity to deliver a better experience for your customers - and grow your business!
- Prepare yourself. Don’t wait until the auditors come in to make sure you comply to the obligations.
- Educate your staff members on the NDIS Commission, and the roles and responsibilities of NDIS workers.
- Utilise the resources that are out there to help you ensure you’re compliant. There is some great training material available, online and offline, and plenty of organisations that can help you train your staff.
- To ensure your organisation is compliant with the NDIS Practice Standards you will need to engage with an approved quality auditor. The details for approved quality auditors are available through the NDIS Commission.
- If your organisation is required to undergo an audit, be aware that there is a cost involved. How much will depend on the required work that needs to be done.
At Plan Partners, Australia’s leading expert in NDIS Plan Management and Support Coordination, we have supported thousands of NDIS participants and their service providers navigating the NDIS. Find out more about how we can support you and join our Service Provider Network.