From 1 July 2018, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will have oversight by the newly established Quality and Safeguards Commission. The Commission will be responsible for enforcing rules that directly affect providers and how they deliver supports and services.
Up till now, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), responsible for the administration of NDIS, regulated service providers through the terms of business. All providers must subscribe to as part of the registration process. Registrations, while done through NDIA, still required some state approval for certain support clusters.
As of July, this process will no longer occur, all arrangements transitioning over to the newly established Commission. This is a positive move for the disability sector. This will bring about national consistency when it comes to registering as a provider. This also ensures that all providers maintain third party verification for supports against the National Disability Service Standards, instead of just the state based ones.
What will this mean for providers?
The requirement for service providers to not only subscribe to the service standards, but to also ensure that they are embodied in operations and service delivery is essential. Here at Butter Fish Services we have worked to ensure that we were third part verified as a service provider, against the standards, before we even commenced taking on our first clients.
These standards are reflected in the way we work. It is our view that all disability providers should be working to raise the standard of the supports and services they provide, creating a culture of continuous improvement.
One of the key features of the new Commission will be a NDIS Code of Conduct. This will apply to all NDIS providers and persons employed or otherwise engaged by them. It will also apply to those working within the NDIS space and not registered.
We are waiting to see what the expectations are of this Code of Conduct and what will be expected of providers and workers in complying with it. At this stage, we have only had the liberty of reviewing the new rules.
What will this mean for you?
Under the new rules, it is a requirement that all NDIS providers manage certain incidents that happen in connection with providing supports or services to people with a disability. Here are Butter Fish Services have always had a functional, reportable incidents management system in place.
It is somewhat concerning that some providers have operated to date without such systems in place. We support the Commission's aim in ensuring there is greater transparency, accountability and resolution of incidents. We also welcome that there will finally be some oversight of all providers concerning managing and reporting incidents. This action again will lift the standard of how NDIS providers operate and go some ways in mitigating potential risks.
The Commission will also be in a position to make decisions and prescribe actions in relation to a complaint connected with supports or services provided by an NDIS Provider. In our view, this has long been overdue.
Complaints are inevitable, they afford us as NDIS providers, with the opportunity to see if we can do things better. While NDIS providers may have their own complaints and feedback mechanisms in place, the Commission will help NDIS providers with ensuring there is resolution to a complaint. This is sometimes not easy to facilitate as a provider alone.
Just like managing incidents, NDIS providers will also be expected to keep records about complaints and make available to clients the mechanisms available to raise issues and how they will be managed. Our Butter Fish Services welcome booklet sets out to our clients the ways in which you can make a complaint and our process once a complaint is received. This information is also available on our website at www.butterfish.com.au
There will also be new rules concerning the screening of workers who undertake work in the sector. These rules are still under development and have not been released to date. Unlike many other NDIS providers, who only require a first aid certificate, police and a working with children check, Butter Fish Services ensures all our support staff have a Certificate 3 qualification in either disability, independent supports, community services or aged care, in addition to a first aid certificate, police and working with children check.
From the beginning we have considered it important to make sure our clients are supported by those that are qualified and can ensure they deliver supports that are in line with the standards and are outcomes focused. You wouldn't go and see a doctor that isn't qualified? Why would you then allow for a person with a disability be supported by someone that isn't qualified?
It's because of this reason, we always screen our staff to ensure they meet this standard. We look forward to reviewing and aligning our processes to the new rules once the details are released.
The Commission has also detailed new requirements for behaviour support and restrictive practices. Workshops are currently rolling out here in NSW to educate NDIS providers on what this will mean for those that currently provide behaviour supports.
It is clear that the use of any restrictive practice in the course of behavioural supports will require authorisation and compliance with any state or territory arrangements. Butter Fish Services is supportive of this.
NDIS providers will also be required to demonstrate compliance with the NDIS Practice Standards. We see this as a really big step forward. This will mean NDIS providers will need to become accountable for the supports and services we deliver.
This will be a challenge for some NDIS providers who don't provide planned supports. Here at Butter Fish Services we have always provided clients with planned supports. Planned supports help build capacity and are outcomes focused. After all, isn't this why we exist?
We are here to build our clients capacity, wherever possible, to ensure they are living their life, their way. As the Commission progressively ramps up its role we will continue to provide you with updates.