Except as specified in [s44] and [Part 3 Rules – Plan Management] the National Disability Insurance Scheme provides an opportunity for a person with disability to choose who will manage their funded supports.
- their nominee;
- a registered plan management provider; or
- the Agency.
Many people with disabilities in Australia and overseas already self-manage their funding. The benefits of self-management include greater control over day-to-day decision making, more flexibility and greater choice in how funding is used.
Where a person with disability decides to self-manage their plan they take on the responsibility of receiving funding, purchasing and managing supports and acquitting funding. [s42] This may at first appear to be an onerous task, however, it is possible to share plan management so that the person with disability delegates to others that part of the management task that is of less interest to them.
Registered Plan Management Provider
A registered plan management provider may be a disability service provider, in operation before the NDIS came into being, or a new organisation or business established to fill this role.
The decision about which plan management provider to appoint is important because the role of the plan management provider is to receive the Agency funding on behalf of the participant, to purchase the planned supports and to manage and acquit the funding provided. [s42] How well the plan management provider fulfils their role affects whether the participant gets the supports that are best suited to their circumstances and whether their financial responsibilities to the Agency are properly discharged.
Some registered plan management providers may also deliver other kinds of services. A plan management provider has a conflict of interest in both managing a participant’s plan and seeking to deliver other forms of service as part of that plan. This means that the plan management provider will be less likely to recommend or arrange for another organisation to deliver any services that it is able itself to provide and less likely to ensure that the services it provides stay as competitive and responsive as possible.
Participants should seek out as much information as possible about the activities and history of potential plan management providers before choosing a provider to manage their plan. They should check that the provider operates in a way that they feel comfortable with and is willing and prepared to enter into agreement to support their decision making and their control over the supports purchased.
Management by the NDIA
When a participant chooses to have their funds managed by the Agency, the range of services from which they can choose is limited to those offered by registered providers. This is unlikely to provide the same range of service possibilities as is available on the open market. It may also mean that the services on offer are more expensive and less flexible than those available on the open market because the registration process will have imposed certain requirements (with an associated cost) on providers so as to achieve registration. On the other hand, compliance by a provider with the requirements of registration may give participants a greater sense of security about the quality of the services being purchased.
Sharing the Plan Management
A participant may choose to share the planning and management of their supports with:
- a family member or friend;
- an small group of family members and friends;
- a circle of support or microboard; and/or
- a service provider.
Plan management sharing can be:
- informal where the person managing the plan is the participant but they do this with the assistance of others; or
- formal where the plan agreed with the Agency details the way the plan management will be divided between the participant, their plan management nominee and/or their registered plan management provider.
Some people with a disability who have experience in self-managing their funding have found it beneficial to delegate particular fund management tasks to a service provider. The person may, for example, choose to recruit and train their support workers but ask a service provider to undertake the tasks of providing payment, insurance, workers compensation and funding accountability. This allows the person to have control over those aspects of the process that matter to them while ensuring that the other important management tasks are covered off. It is recommended that participants enter into a written agreement with the service provider so that the delineation of rights and responsibilities, and dispute resolutions, are clear.