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Building a Support Coordination dream team

Everyone wants to recruit and retain good team players, here's some helpful tips from Charmaine.

By Charmaine Fraser

Updated 15 Apr 202418 May 2022
group of hands reaching for the stars of success

In sporting terms, a ‘Dream Team’ is a combination of players who achieve greatness by being the very best at what they do.

Navigating the NDIS is somehow both a marathon and a sprint. Therefore, we need to build Support Coordination teams who can

  • support participants to slam dunk goals, sail through reviews, and know when to challenge the call of an umpire
  • keep pace with changes in legislation, guidelines, and prices
  • endure to the finish line of a plan and then recover to do it all again

Here are some tips from the front line on how to build a winning Support Coordination team that lasts the distance.

A Pipeline of Talent

Recruiting is the single highest-impact function in building a team, so we recommend casting a wide net. Your future Support Coordination superstars could be amongst those who are

  • coming up through the ranks of disability support workers
  • moving in sideways from another industry with transferrable skills
  • a person with a lived experience of disability who is in a position to share their expertise with others
  • former NDIA employee, Local Area Coordinator, or Early Childhood partner
  • stepping away from a role in Allied Health
  • an experienced Support Coordinator looking for a new opportunity (also known as a unicorn).

Develop an organisational structure that nurtures the talent pipeline. Provide potential for movement through the ranks for those looking for career progression, as well as the opportunity for specialisation in key areas to ensure that recruits stay on the team.

Train Regularly

‘Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.’ Richard Branson

Strong teams aren’t just hired, they’re also trained. Complete a training needs analysis and create an individualised development plan to identify key training topics, including

  • NDIS legislation Reasonable and Necessary (Section 34), Review of a Participant’s Plan (Section 48), and Review of a Decision (Section 100)
  • NDIA Operational Guidelines
  • Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits
  • Supporting participants through plan review
  • Time management, case notes, and role boundaries

Play to Strengths

While Support Coordinators need to be NDIS all-rounders, successful teams also identify and play to the personal strengths of team members. To do this, you can

  • tailor the caseload of team members with a background in mainstream interfaces such as health, education, or justice to match participants who will benefit from their experience
  • use the strong verbal skills of team members in critical meetings such as planning conversations and negotiations with providers
  • have those with excellent written communication skills review and provide feedback on Support Coordination Reports to the NDIA
  • give a team member with a mind for figures and mastery of MS Excel the responsibility to map out expenditure and utilisation across the participant’s plan period
  • appoint the team member who never forgets a name or a face to research local providers with capacity and have them share their connections with the team.

Pit Crew

Hone your back-office systems and people to ensure that Support Coordinators spend the maximum time providing billable hours by

  • Appointing a contact for new referrals who knows the strengths and capacity of team members
  • Investing in easy-to-use time tracking, case noting, and invoicing software
  • Magicking up a portal wizard who understands Requests for Service, Service Bookings, Payment Requests, bulk uploads, and payment reconciliations
  • Assigning the role of policies and procedures perfectionist to ensure that documentation, case notes, and participant records are always audit-ready.

Smells Like Team Spirit

Support Coordinators deserve at least a whiff of encouragement for the effort they put into building the capacity of participants, families, providers, and communities.

Support team spirit by calling out great work when you see it, encouraging positive chatter between peers, and logging and sharing positive feedback widely.

Communicate to Stay Connected

Keep communication lines open between your team to share wins and losses and challenges and opportunities. Of course, everyone knows how to use email, text, and phone. Then, a global pandemic prompted us to connect virtually using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and FaceTime. Our team at DSC use Slack to stay connected and share ideas, information, and inspiration.

Make Retention a Goal

Employee turnover costs time, money, and morale, not to mention the negative impact on participants. Invest in proactive retention efforts such as

  • Ensure your remuneration package is competitive
  • Create internal career pathways
  • Provide continuous training and development
  • Offer flexible work arrangements where practical
  • Actively promote wellbeing and monitor for possible burnout
  • Foster positive feedback

Before finishing up, I should admit that I don’t play or watch any sport because I am always glued to House Hunters, so the accuracy of any reference to sporting terminology is purely accidental.

Authors

Charmaine Fraser

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