People with disabilities will face the same price and/or quality trade-offs in purchasing their Scheme funded services as they do with any other purchases. The difference in the case of Scheme funded services is that the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) will apply value for money criteria in deciding whether to fund particular supports or services.
When a mainstream service has been chosen to deliver a person’s support or services, a person with disability is entitled to expect that they receive the type and quality of service that they pay for. They should seek assurance and evidence that the service can deliver on their promises and that it complies with relevant service standards and/or professional codes of practice. It is also useful to have a service agreement that sets out the expectation of both parties in regards to the service to be delivered and the mechanisms available for resolving any disputes that may arise.
Specialist disability services
If a person wishes to use a specialist disability service, they should look for one that has a good reputation with people with disabilities and is known for following good service practice. Before agreeing to use the service, people with disabilities and their advocates could ask the following questions:
- How does the service provider ensure that they are using evidence-based practices throughout the service?
- What outcomes have been achieved by the service for people with similar support needs?
- How does the service provider offer opportunities to contact other service users to discuss their experiences of using the service?
- How does the service provider quantify or demonstrate results to service users?
- What opportunities do service users have to contribute to service improvement and how do service users make a complaint?
Specialist disability services in Australia vary in their ability to deliver high quality support to people with disabilities. Even service providers that meet industry or accreditation standards may not deliver the outcomes desired by a particular individual. It is, therefore, important to weigh up all the available options before entering into agreement with a service provider.
Specialist disability services also differ markedly in the terms of service they offer e.g. the minimum number of hours per shift for support workers, and the cost of services. For example, some case management agencies charge 25 per cent of the total funding package for coordination, and others charge up to 55 per cent. Service providers should be explicit about their charges and what service users can expect for their funding. People with disabilities should insist on having access to this information. Many people with disabilities, and their families, find it helpful to speak with a range of other service users about their personal experiences of using services before deciding on which service provider to use.
Disability Service Standards and Accreditation
The National Standards for Disability Services are under revision (at time of publication, May 2013). The current standards set out how services are to be provided and how people’s rights are to be respected and protected when they are receiving services. Agencies delivering services to which these or other similar standards apply are commonly required to be audited for compliance with the applicable Standards.
Organisations that are contracted directly by the NDIA to deliver services to a person with disability will be required to register for this purpose [s69]. The registration process involves fulfilling criteria specified in [Part 3 Rules- Registered Providers of Supports]. It is likely that the registration process for providers of certain services will require evidence that a service has been accredited for compliance with specified service standards.
If a person wishes to use a service that is not registered, the NDIA will not manage this aspect of their plan. Other options are available for plan management. See Plan Management Request.
When supports are unavailable
It is likely that during the Agency planning process, a person will identify services or supports they would like that are not available through current mainstream or specialist disability service providers. In such circumstances, the person should make their requirements known to the Agency and seek assistance to think as creatively as possible about how to acquire the desired service. It may be that an existing provider can be encouraged to diversify its service offerings or that a local business can be persuaded to provide the service.
The Agency will play a role in the development of the disability service sector as well as in encouraging mainstream services to be responsive to the requirements of people with disabilities. Providing feedback to the Agency may assist in the development of new services.
Local Area Coordinators
Local Area Coordinators (LACs), are employed either directly by the Agency or by a service contracted for this purpose by the Agency. They will work with people with disabilities and their families to help them access suitable supports (both formal and informal) and services in their local community. LACs will also encourage local mainstream and community organisations to improve their capacity to provide services to people with disabilities. This makes them a potential useful ally in locating existing sources of support or creating new ones.