For many NDIS participants, applying for funding is just one step in the process of accessing the supports they require – there’s also the issue of what to do with the money once it comes through. And it’s a huge concern, with a recent NDIS report finding 30 per cent of funding has gone unclaimed. With any unspent monies not rolling over to the next NDIS plan, it means many participants are missing out on vital supports and services.
“In the earlier days of the NDIS, people weren’t spending their money and didn’t even know where to go,” HenderCare CEO Amanda Blight says. “A lot of plans, at least for the first plan, now have some support coordination: especially clients with more complex care requirements will often have quite a large amount of funding for support coordination.”
Enlisting the help of a support coordinator can go a long way to ensuring NDIS funding is used to its maximum potential. Support coordinators can assist participants in understanding the supports available to meet their goals and maintaining control of their plan management. “The idea is to make sure the plan is utilised to its full potential and the funding is used the best way possible for that,” Blight says.
The organisation has recently added support coordination, recovery coaching and plan management to the list of services it provides in South Australia, with plans to expand nationally in due course. Its support coordinators work to connect participants with service providers and other relevant services – not always provided by HenderCare.
“We must make sure that the participant is always at the centre of what we do, and hence that the outcomes that they want to achieve and their goals are always at the forefront of any recommendations we make in regards to services,” Blight says. “That may be HenderCare or it may be another service provider. It’s making sure clients get the support they need and that their plan allows for.”
Using a disability service provider to manage their NDIS plan is another welcome resource for almost a quarter of NDIS participants across the country. “When your plan is agency-managed, you don’t have to worry about counting the dollars,” Blight says. “Your plan manager liaises with service providers like HenderCare and approves the invoices. So it’s much easier. Most clients opt to be plan-managed these days. If someone in my family had a plan. I would definitely be opting to be plan-managed.”
– Lynn Cameron