Ask DSC: Support Coordination hours being cut?
Ask DSC: Recently, my team and I have had a lot of plans coming back from reassessment with reduced Support Coordination hours funding. There was no indication at the planning meetings that this may happen.
Any idea what might be occurring?
Thank you for the question! It is so well timed, considering there is so much change in the air with all-things NDIS at the moment.
The most recent Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits document announced the price-caps for Level 2 and Level 3 Coordination of Supports would remain stagnant for the 4th consecutive year. This has caused some Support Coordinators to feel that they are not being adequately valued by the NDIA. So, when plans come back with reduced Support Coordination funding, it can exacerbate these feelings.
Capacity Building and Return on Investment
Support Coordination lives in the ‘Capacity Building’ support purpose, indicating that the NDIA does not view it as a long-term support. The NDIA defines Capacity Building supports as those that ‘help you build your skills and increase your independence’.
There is an assumption that the need for Support Coordination will reduce over time. Particularly if the Support Coordinator has successfully facilitated a capacity building approach, and the participant and their support network have increased their skills, knowledge, understanding, independence, and ability to navigate the NDIS. In these situations, it may be entirely appropriate for Support Coordination funding to reduce from one plan to the next. In fact, this can be seen as a sign of a successful Support Coordination/participant relationship.
So why was this not discussed in the planning meeting? It is important to remember that LAC’s are not NDIA delegates, and as such cannot approve or determine what will be funded in a plan. With this in mind, even if the LAC agrees there is a case to fund Support Coordination, they do not have the authority to make that call.
Additionally, don’t forget the potential influence of the old ‘TSP’ (Typical Support Package- beautifully explained by my colleague Chris in a recent article) winning the day. The TSP is an in-built calculator within the NDIA’s system which suggests a plan budget based on individual participant information and more widespread participant data within the scheme.
Get geeky: Evidence is key
There is nothing we can do to guarantee Support Coordination funding, but we do know that anything funded in an NDIS plan must be deemed reasonable and necessary for that individual, against all 6 of the criteria from Section 34 of the NDIS Act 2013.
Providers, including Support Coordinators, should justify all recommendations against the reasonable and necessary criteria. This is often documented in an end of plan reassessment report, or a progress report.
You may want to consider addressing the following:
Alignment to NDIS goals: How are you helping a person to achieve their goals? Will they be unable/less likely to achieve these goals without your support?
Social and economic participation: How are you helping somebody to increase their social and economic participation? Are you linking them to mainstream and community services? Helping them find or keep a job? Are you building their capacity?
Value for money: Capacity building supports can be viewed as an investment: how does Support Coordination contribute to a ’return’ on this investment? Is the person experiencing increased independence in NDIS navigation and plan implementation because of funded Support Coordination? Are you supporting them to access other supports that will help them to build their capacity?
Effective and beneficial: What have you been able to achieve together so far? What are some outcomes that would not have been possible without Support Coordination? What might be some risks if Support Coordination is not funded?
Existing supports: How does Support Coordination complement a participant’s informal and community supports and networks, by taking into account what is reasonable to expect of others? Have you played a role in building the capacity of the participant’s informal supports?
NDIS Responsibility: How/why is the Coordination of Supports the responsibility of the NDIS and not another existing mainstream service (e.g. Community Mental Health, advocacy, etc)?
Are there multiple interfaces intersecting, such as the NDIS and the justice system, mental health, housing, etc?
Is the participant currently or about to navigate a significant transition period - such as preparing to finish high school or working towards employment or independent living?
Is there a current or anticipated limitation or reduction to informal supports?
What are some potential risks if Support Coordination is not funded?
Is the participant experiencing a crisis or is there risk of a crisis pending (e.g. loss of informal support, profound loss of function due to progressive deterioration associated with disability)?
Alignment to the role:
How does the support you are providing align with what the NDIS considers the role of a Support Coordinator? The NDIS paper ‘Improving Support Coordination for NDIS Participants’, published in November 2021, summarised some key roles of a Support Coordinator as follows- it might help to address alignment to these in your reporting:
1. Help participants connect to NDIS and other supports
2. Build a participant’s capacity and capability to understand their plan, navigate the NDIS and make their own decisions
3. Broker supports and services in line with a participant’s wishes and their plan budget
4. Monitor plan budgets and support effectiveness
Provide a detailed breakdown of how Support Coordination hours have been used in the current plan, as well as documenting progress towards goals.
Exactly how many hours are being recommended in the next plan? Provide a detailed breakdown of how the hours will be used. And be very clear about hours required for a specific plan length - for example 12 months vs 24 months vs 36 months.
Remember: if the participant remains unhappy with their Support Coordination funding, they have the right to request a review of the decision, or request a plan change based on a change in their situation.