Maintaining Continuity of Supports for NDIS Participants

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Published: 21 July 2021

Providers of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services need to ensure that wherever possible, NDIS participants receive support without experiencing interruptions or changes to their care.

Providers should incorporate mechanisms into their policies and procedures to ensure operations run smoothly and allow for alternative arrangements to be made in the case of an emergency or staff absence.

In addition to optimising services, this continuity of supports aims to ensure that NDIS participants receive care that is predictable.

What are the Benefits of Maintaining Continuity of Supports?

  • Improved safety and quality of services
  • Increased participant, worker and provider satisfaction
  • Optimised use of resources.

(Lifestyle Centred Services 2020)

Continuity of Supports in the NDIS Practice Standards

Continuity of supports is a requirement of the NDIS Practice Standards under Core Module 2: Provider Governance and Operational Management.

This Practice Standard aims to ensure that NDIS participants receive timely and appropriate support without interruption (NDIS 2020).

Continuity of Supports Quality Indicators

NDIS providers must meet the following quality indicators:

Efficient and Effective Management of Operations

The provider’s day-to-day operations must be managed in an efficient and effective way in order to ensure continuity of support and prevent delays (NDIS 2020).

In order to reduce disruptions to service, the provider should implement policies and procedures that address all foreseeable risks - for example, staff absences (WAAMH 2021).

Examples of how to ensure efficient and effective operations include:

  • Ensuring staff are allocated to participants who are located close to their home
  • Consistently allocating the same staff members to a particular participant
  • Ensuring clear internal communication within the organisation - for example, establishing clear guidelines detailing how to manage disruptions
  • Brainstorming potential disruptions and implementing appropriate processes for managing them.

(Lifestyle Centred Services 2020; WAAMH 2021)

continuity of supports participant with carer
Consider consistently allocating the same staff members to a particular participant.

Staff Absences or Vacancies

If a staff member is absent, or there is a staff vacancy for any reason, an appropriately qualified and experienced person must take over the vacant role (NDIS 2020).

Therefore, in the case of staff unavailability, providers should have processes in place to recruit an appropriate replacement - possibly on short notice (WAAMH 2021).

Examples of how to ensure continuity of supports in the event of staff unavailability include:

  • Employing a scheduling officer or using scheduling software
  • Allocating two or more staff to each participant, which ensures that even if one staff member is unavailable, the participant is still able to receive care from someone they are comfortable and familiar with.

(WAAMH 2021)

Participant Needs and Preferences

NDIS participants should receive supports that have been planned in accordance with their specific needs and preferences. Needs and preferences should also be recorded in documentation and provided to all staff who commence working with the participant. This ensures participants receive care that is consistent with their wishes (NDIS 2020).

Participants’ needs and preferences should ideally be reviewed on a regular basis. Furthermore, participants should be able to provide feedback about whether they feel their needs are being met (WAAMH 2021).

It may be useful to develop documentation outlining key information for each participant, which staff can refer back to. This might include details such as:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Address and contact details
  • Next of kin details
  • Diagnosis and present issues
  • Triggers
  • Members of the person’s support network
  • Goals (in line with the person’s NDIS plan)
  • Care needs (e.g. who is the best person to carry out care and how long will this particular care need be required?)

(WAAMH 2021)

Keep in mind that participants may have specific wishes such as wanting to receive supports from a worker who speaks their language or is from the same cultural background as them (Lifestyle Centred Services 2020).

Preventing Interruptions

Providers should have arrangements in place to prevent interruptions to the participant’s care during the period of their service agreement. These arrangements should be relevant and proportional to the scope and complexity of the services being delivered (NDIS 2020).

In other words, providers should be committed to delivering care for the specified duration of service and undertaking all responsibilities outlined in participants’ service agreements (WAAMH 2021).

Examples of how to prevent interruptions to services include:

  • Developing schedules or timetables detailing the times at which participants are receiving supports and who is providing them
  • Planning supports upon commencement of participants’ NDIS plans in order to ensure adequate funding.

(WAAMH 2021)

continuity of supports developing schedule
In order to prevent interruptions to services, develop schedules or timetables detailing the times at which participants are receiving supports and who is providing them.

Unavoidable Changes and Interruptions

Changes and interruptions to services are sometimes inevitable. However, in these situations, any alternative arrangements that are made must be explained to and agreed upon by the participant (NDIS 2020).

Always maintain a person-centred approach, even when things don’t go to plan (WAAMH 2021).

It’s always better to be proactive than reactive, so it’s essential that providers plan for changes and interruptions, and implement processes for addressing unexpected situations before they happen (WAAMH 2021).

Disaster Preparedness and Planning

Providers should have disaster preparedness and planning measures in place in order to ensure participants can continue to receive critical supports before, during and after a disaster (NDIS 2020).

These disasters might include:

  • Bushfires
  • Cyclones
  • Floods
  • Extreme heat
  • Severe storms
  • COVID-19 outbreak.

(NDIA 2020)

Providers should undertake a risk assessment in order to determine disasters that could affect the delivery of services, and develop plans and processes for responding to and managing these situations (WAAMH 2021).

Additional Resources


References

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