Helpdesk Top 5: February 2022
Can SIL/SDA providers claim for the period while waiting to fill a vacancy which has arisen in a property?
The SIL Operational Guideline is clear that vacancies in SIL are not funded. Providers need to discuss and preferably document how vacancies will be managed with residents/families/carers/LACs or support coordinators.
Depending on the notice period that you have agreed with the participant and whether you have entered into a program of support, you may be able to claim against a participant's plan should they not serve out the notice period, or under a program of support, not provide at least two weeks' notice of their intention to vacate. For more information on programs of support please see the NDIS Pricing Arrangements (page 28).
If a worker has tested positive for COVID-19 recently, is there an extension of time for them to obtain the third vaccination dose (booster)?
Current advice from the Victorian Department of Health is that there is no requirement for staff to delay their third vaccination following a positive diagnosis. Staff are encouraged to obtain the vaccine once they have returned to baseline health. Employees who have been COVID-positive and are included under the mandate are required to proactively seek a formal medical exemption if they are choosing to delay their third dose. Vaccinations can be temporarily deferred for up to four months, provided they meet the requirements.
We are responding to workforce shortages by engaging personal care attendants and nursing staff via external agencies – however these staff don’t have NDIS Worker Checks. Are there any workarounds, given staffing levels are critical?
The requirement that all workers in risk-assessed roles must hold an NDIS Worker Screening Clearance is written in legislation. As a result, NDS understands that unfortunately there is no way that the NDIS worker screening unit or NDIS Commission can offer exemptions to this requirement. At this point, we have been informed that the average turnaround for applicants through the online system is three working days. The turnaround time for manual applications is longer.
NDS has a strong working relationship with the Victorian NDIS worker screening unit and is able to seek fast tracking of applications. For prioritisation with the Department, NDS members are invited to send the full names of applicants through to Clare Hambly, Policy and Projects Officer at NDS: submit enquiry/feedback. The Worker Screening Unit has assured us that they will prioritise COVID-19 related workforce shortage issues.
Providers can seek further information about sourcing surge workforce through DFFH (RREMoutbreak@dffh.vic.gov.au) or the NDIA (firstname.lastname@example.org), noting surge workforce supply is very limited.
With the January 2022 commencement of the Safety Screening Policy for Funded Organisation Policy in Victoria, there are some ambiguities around compliance requirements for workers. Is the NDIS screening check sufficient for this policy, or is the more intensive ‘International Police Check’ for support workers required?
With the cessation of the Disability Worker Employment Scheme (DWES) on 31 December 2021, safety screening for Victorian Government-funded organisations providing disability-related services has changed.
Under the updated Safety Screening Policy for Funded Organisations, the Victorian Government will accept an NDIS clearance as suitable safety screening for new staff in NDIS registered organisations. This replaces the requirement for an international police check.
For DFFH registered organisations that are not registered NDIS providers, a national police check is sufficient for new staff.
All DFFH-funded disability workers also need to have a referee check, an employment history check, a qualification check (if qualifications are mandatory for the role) and a Working with Children Check or VIT registration (if in child-related work).
DFFH-funded disability service providers are also required to ensure they do not employ a person who is subject to a prohibition order issued by the Victorian Disability Worker Commission (VDWC). The VDWC publishes a list of people who are subject to a prohibition order on its website.
When a plan nominee is appointed for a participant, is it ongoing indefinitely, until change of circumstance, or verified at review meetings? Are there circumstances where the NDIA sets an expiry date for a plan nominee?
Information about the appointment of plan nominees is available on the NDIS website under '5.9 Term of a nominee's appointment'. It specifies that: 'Under the NDIS Act, the NDIA is able to appoint a plan nominee indefinitely, or for a specified term (section 86(4) and 87(3)). An appointment that is for a specified term can expire on the expiry of a specified period, or on the expiry of a specified event. For example, at the expiry of 6 months or when a participant turns 40 years of age (section 86(5) and 87(4)).'
The page then specifies examples of when the NDIA may determine an appointment for a specified term is appropriate:
- the NDIA considers it desirable to review the appointment after a period to see if a nominee is still required
- the nominee is appointed in the interim before an appointed decision-maker (such as a guardian) is appointed
- in an interim whilst the preferred nominee is unable to act (e.g. overseas or in hospital)
- the nominee is a court-appointed or participant-appointed decision-maker, and the NDIA considers it appropriate the appointment lapse if the appointment as decision-maker lapses.