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Quality and Safeguarding May Update

For a quiet month there is still a whole load to get on top of. Person-centred preparedness, RAC, Commission surveys and student worker screenings, Jess covers it all in her latest update.

By Jessica Quilty

Updated 15 Apr 202419 May 2021

Welcome to the latest edition of Quality and Safeguarding Updates. It has been a pretty quiet month or so, but here are a few things you might have missed. 

 

NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission Survey

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) has released a special edition of its newsletter, “SAFEGuard”. The newsletter refers to the changes that affect NDIS participants who receive daily support in their own home from just one support worker. These changes were made to make sure that their NDIS provider:

  • properly looks at risks the person might face in their home
  • checks the quality of the supports that the person receives
  • asks how happy the person is with those supports
  • has an agreement in writing with the person about how they will make sure the support worker is doing the right things

The NDIS Commission has prepared a short survey for NDIS participants that asks questions about other ways to respect the choice and control of people with disability who live by themselves while making sure they are safe. They invite all NDIS participants (whether or not they are in the target cohort of these changes) to complete the survey by Friday, 28 May 2021, so spread the word. 

You can find issues of the SAFEGuard newsletter on the NDIS Commission’s website.

 

Resources for Residential Aged Care (RAC)

If you have been playing at home, you will know that RAC providers who are supporting NDIS participants are now registered with the NDIS Commission. The Registrar recently wrote to RACs to address the concerns raised about the impact of the increased regulatory burden and how the NDIS Commission is supporting their transition. The Registrar has flagged several mechanisms to minimise undue regulatory burden, including:

  • not requiring affected RAC providers to do anything to be registered with the NDIS Commission
  • giving RAC providers time to progressively meet obligations to comply with the NDIS Practice Standards, NDIS Worker Screening, and positive behaviour support requirements
  • giving extended periods of time to the majority of providers to undertake a registration renewal process, with providers that support low numbers of NDIS participants not having to complete that process until March 2023
  • providing a free support service for RAC providers to help them comply

 

The Registrar has advised that RAC providers will also receive more information shortly about:

  • work with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) to develop guidance on how evidence available through an aged care assessment can be used to demonstrate compliance with the NDIS Commission 
  • how to apply NDIS Worker Screening in the context of aged care settings
  • how aged care nursing plans can be used in many circumstances to meet behaviour support obligations to NDIS participants who may have a restrictive practice in place

The NDIS Commission has also released:

  • flow chart which explains RAC NDIS registration
  • flow chart which explains the requirements to comply with the NDIS Worker Screening check 
  • flow chart which explains the requirements relating to behaviour support and restrictive practices 

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) has also developed this checklist to help RAC providers tick off their compliance requirements. 

 

Worker screening for tertiary and tafe students

The Queensland Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors has written to subscribers of the Disability Connect newsletter to advise of changes to the NDIS Worker Screening process for tertiary and TAFE students. Students who require an NDIS Worker Screening check for their placement in a risk assessed role with a registered NDIS provider can apply through the new automated online application system.  As part of the application process, NDIS providers are required to verify engagement of their workers, including students, through the NDIS Worker Screening Database (NWSD) operated by the NDIS Commission. Feedback from the sector was that the worker verification process for students would be best undertaken by the university or Registered Training Organisation (RTO) they are studying through rather than the NDIS provider hosting their placement. To address this feedback, universities and RTOs are now able to request access to the NDIS Worker Screening Database for the purpose of verifying student applications. More information on this process is available on the NDIS Commission website.

It is still the responsibility of registered NDIS providers to ensure students attending placements in risk assessed roles have a clearance before starting. They must link to the student through the NWSD at the start of the placement and delink at the end of the placement. In Queensland, students must also complete and submit the “Change in Engagement” form to the Queensland Worker Screening unit within 14 days of starting or ending placement with a registered NDIS provider. A new fact sheet about screening requirements for students has been created and is available on the resources page of the Worker Screening website. Further information about disability Worker Screening in Queensland can be found on the Worker Screening Website.

 

Person-Centred Preparedness

Collaborating for inclusion has released a Person-Centred Emergency Preparedness (P-CEP) Workbook and related resources that were co-designed with people with disability. The workbook outlines four steps to increase emergency preparedness. Each step provides information, resources, and guidance to get the emergency preparedness conversation started. Each planning conversation results in self-assessment and actions to increase personal emergency preparedness. People with disability can use the P-CEP Workbook to tailor emergency preparedness planning to their support needs, so they know how they will act together with their support network in an emergency.

 

NDIS Behaviour Support Practitioner Assessment

In February of this year, we provided you with detailed information about the NDIS Commission’s process for assessing the suitability of behaviour support practitioners (practitioners). A set of FAQs has now been added to the NDIS Commission’s website. Additional information includes:

  • the NDIS Commission expects practitioners will take hours to complete the process
  • the application must be submitted along with:
    • a resume or CV
    • certified copies of relevant qualifications (if applicable)
    • a completed self-assessment tool, along with endorsement by a supervisor
  • while a portfolio of evidence is required to assist supervisors to complete the endorsement process, this does not need to be submitted to the NDIS Commission
  • the NDIS Commission will only ask for the portfolio of evidence if they require additional information to make a decision about practitioner suitability
  • all practitioners require a supervisor to provide clinical supervision of their practice (a requirement of the NDIS (Quality Indicator) Guidelines 2018). This supervisor needs to complete the endorsement tool
  • there are a number of options for supervision outlined in the Self-Assessment Resource Guide for PBS Capability Framework
  • The FAQs provide a reminder that applications must be submitted by the required date, and provisional suitability remains in place until an outcome is received by the NDIS Commission. If applications are not submitted by the required date, practitioners are no longer able to provide behaviour support services.

While the additional information provided by the NDIS Commission is welcome, the FAQs provide no guidance on the timeframes for assessment of suitability following submission of an application. Given the wait times for many participants and families to access behaviour support services across many jurisdictions, the prioritisation of this task by the NDIS Commission is essential. 

 

Royal Commission Update

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (Disability Royal Commission) has been granted an extension to deliver its Final Report. The Final Report will now be due on 29 September 2023. The extension acknowledges the breadth of the Royal Commission’s responsibilities under its Terms of Reference and the significant and prolonged disruptions to the Commission’s program as a result of COVID-19. 

Public Hearing 13 will focus on a case study about the recent experiences of people with disability residing in a house in Western Sydney, operated by Sunnyfield Disability Services. It is anticipated that evidence will be presented relating to this case study that highlights broader systemic issues to be examined in subsequent public hearings. The hearing will examine the experiences of three people with disability residing at the house over approximately four years, including:

  • how their NDIS-funded services and supports were provided
  • how their agreements for accommodation and support services from Sunnyfield operated
  • how Sunnyfield communicated with and provided information to their families
  • how Sunnyfield responded when incidents occurred or complaints were made
  • Sunnyfield’s policies, systems, and operations
  • the external oversight of disability services, from the NDIS Commission and others, to prevent violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation and to respond when complaints or allegations are made

 This will be followed by Public Hearing 14 in the week of 7 June in Adelaide – Preventing and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in disability services (South Australia).

 You can stay up to date with the Disability Royal Commission by signing up for updates on its website.

That’s it for this month. In our next edition, we will examine Public Hearing 13 and 14 in more detail, so stay tuned.  

Authors

Jessica Quilty

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