The National Disability Insurance Scheme(NDIS) is a Australian Government funding program designed to provide people with permanent and significant disabilities access to the supports they need to live an ordinary life. Not everyone with a disability can access the NDIS. Only those who meet the access criteria can become a participant and receive an individualized plan.
Participants in the NDIS are given access to the scheme via a tailored plan designed to help them access the supports they need. These could be informal, like assistance from friends and family, mainstream or community supports or funded supports.
Managing an NDIS plan and accessing the necessary supports can be complex and time consuming. But this is where an NDIS support coordinator steps in.
What does a support coordinator do?
A support coordinator works directly with NDIS participants to help create support plans and to organise the required supports. They work with individuals to help identify their specific needs, tailor support plans to their requirements and ensure clients are receiving all the appropriate and necessary services.
They also coordinate and liaise with service providers, review plans and goals and work with clients to ensure they are progressing and getting the support they need.
The coordinator’s long-term aim should be to help participants build capacity to self-manage their NDIS plan and necessary supports, and promote, as much as possible, independent living and decision making for those with disabilities.
These are some of the common tasks a support coordinator will carry out:
- Assess options for mainstream, community, informal and provider supports
- Create and implement an NDIS plan
- Provide options for support providers
- Help clients to develop capacity to choose, manage and control their own supports
- Organise assessments to access funding
- Negotiate services and prices, make bookings, develop service agreements, liaise with service providers
- Help to plan and implement the funding budget
- Ensure service providers are delivering adequate services and supports
- Help resolve points of crisis, problems or issues that arise
- Provide support for plan, goal and outcome reviews
- Troubleshoot problems with the plan and service providers
Who funds the role?
It is important to understand that support coordination is funded by the NDIS depending on the needs and situation of the participant. Not every participant is eligible for support coordination and those who are will be allocated a set number of funded hours.
Unfortunately, funding for support coordination is often under-allocated, which means coordinators may not have time to do everything that may be required or requested of them. The best support coordinators will take some time early on to discuss how much they can realistically achieve given the client’s funding.
What are their skills and qualifications?
Most support coordinators will have formal tertiary qualifications in a relevant field like social work, psychology, aged care, allied health, occupational therapy, community services, nursing, or social or health science. They will also often have experience working within one or more of these fields.
The work requires compassion, empathy and patience and high level interpersonal and communication skills. Besides the ability to build a genuine and caring rapport with clients and their families, support coordinators must also maintain strong networks with a range of service providers. They must also be able to meet defined outcomes and deadlines while managing the complex bureaucracy of the NDIS.
Different types of support
There are various different levels and types of support that an NDIS support coordinator can provide. The type of support provided will depend on the available level of NDIS support coordination funding, the requirements of the client and their surrounding formal and informal support network.
Here are some of the different support types:
- Support Connection
This involves helping the client connect with their community, support systems and service providers. It’s also aimed at developing the client’s knowledge, experience and independent ability to interact with their network.
- Support Design
This involves working with the client to understand and develop a funding plan tailored to their requirements. Based on the client’s abilities and confidence, support coordinators can identify the required services and develop and design support solutions to meet outcomes and goals.
- Crisis Support
When crises emerge, support coordinators may be required to resolve points of crisis, while also improving a client’s resilience and ability to deal with issues independently. Crisis support can also involve ensuring the client has access to the crisis supports they require in their network.
- Coach and Refine
A major part of the role is coaching clients through challenges and helping them to develop the skills and networks they need to live comfortably and independently.