Happy New Year! I hope you all had a restful break and feel motivated to start another year.
I cannot say I had an entirely restful break. The week before Christmas, I had my NDIS plan review meeting.
When I first became an NDIS participant, I was informed that the same planner would conduct my reviews each time for consistency. As I arrived for the meeting, I was startled to hear that a local area coordinator [LAC] who I hadn’t met before, would be conducting the meeting, and was to make recommendations to the NDIS regarding the amount of funding I would receive. I found this incredibly daunting.
This wasn’t the only shock that I had.
My distress increased greatly when I discovered I may not be allocated Support Coordination.
I value Support Coordination as it has enabled me to make the most from my plan.
So, what is support coordination?
Support Coordination is an NDIS funded support.
The NDIA defines it as –
‘Assistance to strengthen participant’s abilities to coordinate and implement supports and participate more fully in the community’.
In a nutshell, a Support Coordinator helps participants and their families coordinate their paid supports.
Libby Ellis from InCharge wrote that a Support Coordinator’s role is to help participants find the right supports and service providers to achieve their goals.
This assistance has been vital for me. I have a speech impairment, and therefore I often require my Coordinator to act as a mediator between myself and service providers.
Evie Nauful, an independent NDIS expert, writes that participants are having their Support Coordination hours significantly reduced, or having their hours completely removed. Unfortunately, some providers try domination tactics, so it is imperative to have someone who can mediate for participants.
NDIS considers Support Coordination as a Capacity Building Support.
Capacity Building involves imparting participants with the skills to coordinate their own support. This is why use of a Support Coordinator is viewed as a time limited support.
The NDIA claims Capacity Building is to move people with disability, from being dependent service users to active citizens who exercise choice and control. As a person with a disability this sounds empowering.
However, I feel as though without a huge investment in Capacity Building, expecting participants and their families to coordinate their own supports is akin to thrusting them into the wilderness.
Capacity building takes time.
It cannot be a short term support.
In a report prepared by Libby Ellis, Kate Fulton and Luke B’osher, they explain that Support Coordination should be viewed as a long term support. Assistance is required to move through the hurdles involved in implementing NDIS plans, and the report shows that participants and families can be confused in how to best utilise their funds. Due to the time spent on resolving such issues, Support Coordinators are then delayed in implementing effective capacity building with participants.
The NDIA intends for LACs to implement support coordination.
When I was told that a new LAC would assist me with Support Coordination, I was very apprehensive.
The NDIS explain that LAC roles consist of linking people to the NDIS, connecting participants to information and support, and work within local communities. There is minimal mention of Support Coordination.
An independent NDIS consultant, Sally Coddington writes that she is very doubtful of the LACs capacity to do this. Unfortunately, the KPIs for LACs prioritise quantity, not quality of input. This is due to the fact LACs are pressured to work at a fast pace, and therefore they simply don’t have time to offer quality Support Coordination. Sally writes providing Support Coordination is a complex task, and Coordinators must have sufficient time to undertake this.
LACS shouldn’t be given the added responsibility of Support Coordination.
I believe Support Coordination is imperative to the roll out of the NDIS.
Without Support Coordination, many participants are expected to organise their own funded supports for the first time in their lives. We need someone to impart to us the skills required to navigate the complex service delivery environment. I am certain that if the NDIS invested in Capacity Building and Support Coordination more, we would be more than capable to control our own supports.