How To Become an NDIS Provider
Have you been wondering about the process of becoming an NDIS Provider? You’re not alone.
With almost half a million Australians receiving funding from the NDIS, the market for disability service providers has grown significantly in recent years.
One of the most significant features of the NDIS is that it gives people with a disability funding directly to spend how they choose. This transfers choice and control to the individual and allows participants to seek out high quality services that are safe and effective.
As such, becoming an NDIS provider requires careful consideration and planning from a business owner.
What is the NDIS?
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was introduced into legislation in March 2013 and was designed to improve the system for funding disability services in Australia. The change came after years of debate about existing disability support arrangements and a need for reform.
Prior to the NDIS, funding for disability support services was given directly to service providers.
The Productivity Commission found in 2011 that this system denied choice and certainty of access to people with a disability and their carers, with services being delivered based on the provider’s capacity to do so and not on the consumer’s needs.
The NDIS completely reversed this existing system.
People with a disability are now given funds for their supports directly and can control how and where this is spent. The NDIS model significantly improved the level of choice and independence that people with a disability can expect when seeking out services.
What kinds of services can I deliver if I become an NDIS provider?
Participants can spend funds allocated to their NDIS plans to access ‘reasonable and necessary’ services that will help them pursue their goals.
- Assistance with daily activities
- Nursing care
- Community participation and group-based activities
- Household tasks, such as cleaning and gardening
- Transport assistance
- Assistive products, such as wheelchairs, vision equipment, and prosthetics
- Therapeutic support and exercise physiology
- Early intervention services
- Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)
- Many other services and products
What services are not funded by the NDIS?
The NDIS has been designed to fund supports related to a person’s disability that aren’t otherwise already being funded by another system, like the wider health or education system. The NDIS Rules specifically outline what funding won’t be allocated for.
Becoming an NDIS provider – registered or unregistered?
As an NDIS provider, one of the key decisions you’ll need to make is whether you want to operate as a registered or unregistered provider.
As an unregistered provider, you and your workers will still have to abide by the NDIS Code of Conduct and have a system in place to manage complaints you may receive about the quality or safety of your services. You won’t be able to deliver some higher-risk services, such as implementing restrictive practices, behaviour support planning, and Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA).
Unregistered providers are also unable to deliver services to agency-managed participants where the NDIA manages a participant’s funding. These participants make up more than a quarter of total NDIS consumers and can only access services from registered providers.
Many NDIS participants and plan managers consider registered providers to be safer and of a higher quality, as these providers are required to meet a strict set of standards before becoming registered and are regulated on an ongoing basis by the NDIS Commission.
Becoming a registered NDIS provider not only can help make your business a more desirable option in today’s competitive market but can help you as a business owner feel more confident that your service delivery is meeting the highest standard.
Completing your first NDIS audit
If you decide to become a registered provider, you’ll need to complete either a verification or certification audit depending on the types of services you deliver.
Once you have registered with the NDIS Commission, you will need to select an Approved Quality Auditor (AQA) to audit your service against the NDIS Practice Standards. AQAs are specifically approved by the Commission to audit services against the NDIS Practice Standards.
The Commission maintains a list of AQAs here, and you can approach any of these, including HDAA to obtain a proposal and seek further information to determine the right fit for your service. Some important questions to ask AQAs are:
- What is included in the price and are there any extra costs (e.g., auditor travel)?
- How long will you take to complete my audit?
- How much support will you provide?
- Do your auditors have backgrounds in working with disability services?
- Do you have experience auditing other providers like me?
- Can I meet with you by video conference to discuss our requirements before I make my decision?
The AQA will then work with you to set a date and start planning your audit which could take place at your service or virtually, depending on a number of circumstances. Verification audits are completed as a “desktop” process.
After the audit is complete and the Approved Quality Auditor makes a recommendation to the NDIS Commission, the NDIS Commission will make the final decision on your registration and confirm this to you in writing.
Finding clients as an NDIS provider
Registered providers have the benefit of being automatically listed on the NDIS Provider Finder tool, which NDIS participants can use to find your business by location and service delivery type. Registered NDIS providers can also request access to the myplace Provider Portal.
Once you are a registered provider, you can also use the NDIS Provider Logos to easily let potential customers know that your business delivers NDIS services of a high standard.
As a certification body, we strongly encourage you to monitor your business, take onboard the good and not-so-good feedback, regularly review your processes, and strive to improve!
Adopting a continuous improvement approach can strengthen your organisation, your team, and improve your business so that your clients know they are getting safe, quality, and effective service. Getting registered and working with an approved quality auditor like HDAA is a great first step.