New website upgrades! What’s new

Bye bye service bookings?

Sara explores the many changes being rolled out with NDIA’s new business management software, PACE.

By Sara Gingold

Updated 15 Apr 202410 Feb 2023

There’s a word you’re going to be hearing a lot of in 2023 and it’s heralding in changes to the NDIS. It’s time to meet your newest frenemy- the system you are either going to hate to love or love to hate- PACE.

If you’re wondering what PACE stands for, then I’m sorry to say I don’t have an answer for you. The world is full of such mysteries. But what we do know is that, on the surface, PACE is NDIA’s new business management software, which has been built by Salesforce to replace Services Australia’s SAP software. If that sentence bored you to sleep, then, mate, you’re not alone. But do yourself a favour and slap yourself awake. Because PACE won’t only affect the internal operations of the NDIA, it will also alter the participant and provider experience of the NDIS. There are several important new features, including:

  • Faster payments for providers who are endorsed by their participants
  • Funding released in stages
  • Changes to support categories
  • Provider’s will have to bulk upload their claims, as the portal will no longer allow them to make single claims
  • New portals for providers and participants
  • Removal of service bookings
  • Increased access to participant plans

From the NDIA’s perspective, new business software was sorely needed. Since publicly they’re telling us that the Service Australia software was not fit for purpose, we can assume privately its logo was used as a dart board in the staff lounge. Where the nerves come in is that government’s track record when it comes to developing tech is, well…. poor.

Tech might not be your favourite topic of conversation. But we’re here to make the complex simple, to deconstruct the messiness down to its 0s and 1s (that’s a computer joke, folks). Let’s get into it.

Tassie tested before going national

PACE is currently being tested in Tassie, with all new participants and applicants included in the test. People with plans due to end in the next 3–6 months will transition to PACE after their plan reassessment.

The NDIA will use feedback from the Tassie test to adjust the system before it rolls out nationally. The rest of the country can expect PACE sometime in 2023. Unfortunately, that’s all we know.

Participant-endorsed providers

PACE will introduce the new concept of ‘participant-endorsed providers’. This system allows people to ‘endorse’ the providers they want to deliver their supports. The long and short of it is that if the provider has been endorsed by the person whose plan they are claiming against, then they will get paid faster. The NDIA is estimating endorsed providers will be paid within 2-3 days, so basically the same speed they get paid now. Whereas for unendorsed providers payments will take around 10 days.

There are two ways that a participant can endorse their providers

  • Participant-endorsed providers – general: These are providers endorsed to deliver supports in any category, except Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) and Behaviour Supports.
  • Participant-endorsed providers – support category: These are providers that can endorsed to deliver supports in a particular support category. During the trial, at least, this will only apply to SDA and Behaviour Supports.

People can still use unendorsed providers, but will need to validate they received the service via a message from the NDIA.

Providers can be endorsed during planning meetings, participant check-ins or calls to national call centres. People can also contact the NDIA if they want to unendorse a provider.

Between the hell of contacting (any!) call centre and validating unendorsed provider payments, this new system requires more admin on the part of participants. It also create more work for providers, who will invariably have to explain this system to the people they support.

During the Tassie test, all Agency-managed participants will be able to endorse providers, and it will be compulsory for PACE participants with SDA or Behaviour Supports in their plans.

Changes to the support categories

PACE will also bring changes to the support categories.

There will be a new ‘support type’ called ‘recurring.’ 'Support type’ seems to be the new name for ‘support purposes’ (so like your Core, Capacity Building, Capital and, now, Recurring). The only support category under Recurring is ‘recurring transport.’ There is no information about which of the many NDIS-funded forms of transport will be included in this category. We’ll need to keep an eye on this, as many people will want to ensure that there will still be circumstances where Core funding can be used flexibly on transport

You can find a list of the new categories below. Categories in bold are new, and categories underlined just have new names.

PACE Support Categories

Bold – new categories

Underlined – new names

Core

  • Assistance with daily life
  • Home and living
  • Transport
  • Consumables
  • Assistance with social, economic and community participation

Capital

  • Assistive technology
  • Assistive technology maintenance, repair and rental
  • Home modification
  • Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)

Capacity Building

  • Support coordination and psychosocial recovery coaches
  • Improved living arrangements
  • Increased social and community participation
  • Finding and keeping a job
  • Relationships
  • Behaviour Supports
  • Health and well-being
  • Lifelong learning
  • Choice and control
  • Improved daily living skills

Recurring

  • Recurring transport

The line items will not change for the time being.

As intended, some of these new category names are much clearer now. Though I imagine that NDIS newbies will still be scratching their heads about what categories such as ‘choice and control’ mean. 

Stated supports at category level

Under the PACE regime, whether a support is ‘stated’ or ‘flexible’ will now be listed at the support category rather than the line-item level. The NDIA says that this is to create ‘more flexibility for participants in how they use their plan.’

New portal

Participants and providers will get brand-new portals that have been designed to create a more user-friendly experience. Participants can navigate to their new ‘my NDIS portal’ via the NDIS website, thereby allowing them to avoid Australia’s most reliable panic-attack trigger- the MyGov website.

In the transition to PACE, providers will need to use two portals: their new my NDIS provider portal and the old problematic-but-familiar myplace portal. Providers will continue to claim using the old portal. Presumably, this is just an interim measure, as they’re not going to want to be operating two portals till the end of time. Support item numbers used to claim will also not change for the time being. However, once a participant has transitioned to PACE, providers will not be able to make single claims against their plan; they will have to bulk upload all their claims.

There is guidance for participants and providers  on using the new portal on the NDIS website. However, people on the mainland won’t need to worry about this until PACE rolls into their area.

Release of funding in intervals

One of the suites of changes to be rolling in with PACE is the release of participant funding in intervals. There is a surprising lack of information about what this will look like. When a similar concept was floated as part of the Independent Assessments (IAs) policy, it proved rather unpopular. So, they might be hoping to get this through without attracting too much attention (sorry guys!).

The NDIA has said that this will not stop people drawing on future funding if they want to, though there’s no information on how this will happen or what the process will look like.  

We don’t know how long the funding intervals will be. The NDIS website says that the release of funding in stages is a response to feedback the NDIA received from people with longer NDIS plans (up to 3 years long) who said that they want their budget released every 12 months. So, maybe 12 months?

Bye bye, service bookings… Hello….?

Much to the relief of many a support coordinator, service bookings will no longer exist under PACE. This will be to remove unnecessary red tape and give participants more flexibility. The NDIA has said that there will be a new function that providers can use to ensure that there will be funding available, but it’s not clear what this will look like.

Viewing participants’ plans

PACE will make it easier for providers to access a participant’s plan if they have the appropriate consent. Under PACE, the following can be done:

  • Registered providers can view a person’s goals and nominee details.
  • Support coordinators and psychosocial recovery coaches (PRCs) can view the whole plan.
  • Plan managers can view the parts of the plan they are managing. 

Support coordinators and PRCs

Particularly during the testing phase, many new PACE features will particularly impact support coordinators and PRCs, so there are some things that these people need to be aware of:

  • Unregistered support coordination providers: Unregistered providers will also need to access the new portal.
  • New request for service function: Planners will send requests for service via the new provider portals. Providers will then have 4 days to respond. This means that providers will need to monitor the new portal regularly, as a notification system does not yet exist.  
  • Submitting reports: Support coordinators and PRCs will be required to submit progress reports via the new portal.

Conclusion

PACE won’t be staying on one side of the Strait forever. At some unknown point in 2023, it will come for the mainland as well, so it’s a good idea to be ready for it when it does.  

People participating in the Tassie trial will have the opportunity to provide feedback to the NDIA on PACE.

Providers can find more information here.

Participants can find more information here.

Authors

Sara Gingold

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