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Standout Support Coordination

Tristram Peters uses his experience as an NDIS participant and his work at online directory Clickability to provide insight into what participants look for in Support Coordination.

By Tristram Peters

Updated 15 Apr 20247 Sept 2020

For many people, Support Coordination is one of the most important elements of their NDIS Plan. Why? Well, it’s like the glue that holds a participant’s NDIS Plan and supports together, ensuring they make progress towards their goals and live the life they want to live. 

I’ve seen this firsthand at Clickability, an online directory that matches participants with disability supports (like support coordination). I’ve also experienced it as a participant who’s used support coordination to kick start my Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) journey and move into my own unit. Yes, you’re obviously invited to the housewarming!  

Given my admitted crush on all things Support Coordination then, I’ve eagerly watched the NDIA’s proposed review into Support Coordination, with a recent Discussion Paper seeking feedback on how to improve our experience as participants. 

This got me thinking, what does ‘quality of Support Coordination’ mean to me? And to all those participants who come to Clickability to find Support Coordinators? With both my participant hat and work hat on (I’m wearing two hats in this analogy, just roll with it), let’s explore the context of quality Support Coordination within the NDIA’s discussion paper.

What qualifications do Support Coordinators need?

As things currently stand, Support Coordinators generally don’t need to hold a qualification to do their role, but they do need to follow the NDIS Code of Conduct. That’s a given. If they are NDIS registered, they also need to meet the NDIS Practice Standards. If they aren’t registered, these don’t apply, but they then can’t support a large cohort of participants (the NDIA managed variety). 

While the NDIA Discussion Paper is asking what qualifications ‘might be useful’, it’s interesting to explore how people choose their coordinators now. How did I? And how do others, from what we’ve seen at Clicka? 

Specialist Knowledge

My Support Coordinator works for an NDIS-registered provider that specialises in my condition (the wonderfully titled Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type II). This means they have knowledge around the type of care I need and can help implement my plan around this. I don’t have specialist support coordination, but I still want my Support Coordinator to have specialist knowledge.

But plot twist, I’m not the only one who wants specialist knowledge. Users at Clicka also search for Support Coordinators with disability-specific knowledge (such as Autism, Psychosocial, or Acquired Brain Injuries). They also search for Support Coordinators who have specialist knowledge beyond disability, including age-specific knowledge or experience. A parent might need an early childhood Support Coordinator or one who can assist their child’s transition post-school. Our users might also be looking for a Support Coordinator who is multilingual or can help them communicate with services on their behalf. The list is endless. 

NDIS Savvy

About a year ago, I was given a conditional offer for a unit. I needed to submit a housing application to prove my Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) eligibility. With the evolving nature of SDA, I needed someone who was across it. This was a gap in my knowledge of the system, but not for my Support Coordinator. They worked with my Occupational Therapist to complete this submission – and get me my own place!

The NDIS is a complex system. So, above all else, participants want someone who can fill their knowledge gaps, who knows which providers might prove helpful, and who can help them get started on their plan.

Peer-reviewed 

Clickability gets calls and messages from participants, asking us to help them find services that suit their needs. This includes Support Coordinators. Sometimes they want a Support Coordinator who’s a sole trader and not part of a larger org; other times, the opposite is true. But more often they just want a Coordinator who’s well reviewed by people who have already used the service. They use this as the qualification they need. This is really consistent with what we hear from participants and families over and over again – trust is a major factor in decision making, and we know we can trust you if people we already trust, do.

How do we measure the success of Support Coordination

Another key issue that’s part of the current discussion paper is how to ‘better align the price of Support Coordination with participant outcomes.’ This sounds complicated… but basically, what’s good value for money? This is a harder one to gauge. 

As a participant, my NDIS plan has a set amount of Support Coordination funding per year – to help me achieve my goals, such as moving out. To this end, my Support Coordinator sat down to research accessible housing options with me, complete the housing application for my choice and submit it to the NDIS, and liaise with assistive technology suppliers to increase my independence in my new home. For me then, the value for money is real – I had a goal to move out, and my Support Coordinator was instrumental in helping me achieve it. Hello, new unit!

Some people write positive reviews of Support Coordinators who do similar. They praise those Support Coordinators who help them achieve their goals, whether it be exercising (using a Plan to access exercise physiology), eating healthily (accessing dieticians), or simply becoming more independent (finding everyday assistive technology for the home). 

Achieving goals is the benchmark – and sharing these stories of success is how we trumpet the success of a particular Support Coordinator.  

What should you look for?

A Support Coordinator could have specialist knowledge, specific NDIS knowledge, or just be well reviewed, but my experience in finding a support coordinator—and many others—is also much broader than that. 

In her recent article my colleague Aviva spoke about what participants look for in providers here, but a few of her messages are specific to Support Coordination:

  • Champion. In every dire situation I’ve faced (two reviews, thanks), my Support Coordinator has championed me, being the one in meetings with me, lending a hand. 
  • Networker. My Support Coordinator is a networker, linking me to community, mainstream and informal supports. They know everyone in your particular area.
  • Engager. Okay, that noun doesn’t quite work, but you get the point. They should be checking in, as often the participant wants – and be active listeners when they do.

Support Coordination has assisted me greatly, helping me achieve my goals. The NDIA’s discussion paper is all about ensuring this happens and continues to happen for others like me, but while we wait, let’s not stop. I’m going to keep chasin’ those goals. 

Authors

Tristram Peters

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