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Helpdesk Top 5 - January 2018

Desk in an office


The NDS online Helpdesk offers providers practical advice and interpretation of key NDIS policy and practices. This month we have reached an impressive 500 users!

Despite the Christmas period and NDS closure, there has still been quite a number of excellent questions submitted to the Helpdesk in the past month, with housing, employment and the price guide being popular topics.

Below are the top 5 Helpdesk questions for January 2018:

Question 1

A participant regular sees an Occupational Therapist and a Physiotherapist weekly.  The only funding she received under 'Improved Daily Living' was specifically for OT assessment in relation to modifications and equipment. There is therefore not enough funding under this category for the other therapy she needs. Can she use her Core Support to fund therapies or should we put in a request for a plan review?

Answer 1

Core Supports can not be used to pay for therapies. If the participant does not believe that the funding in their plan is sufficient, they are able to request a review of their plan.

Question 2

Can a participant use Core Support funding flexibly to make for an additional transport needs if transport is funded in their plan but is insufficient to meet the cost?

Answer 2

Yes, in order to use Core Supports to pay for transport there needs to be a funding allocation to Transport under Core Supports in the participant’s plan. 

It is important to note that, if participants receive their transport monies as periodic payments, they are not able to use core funding flexibly to access additional transport supports.

It is not advisable for providers to convert transport costs into other support line items for the purposes of claiming for transport supports, as this may result in non-compliance if audited.

NDS has been engaged in ongoing discussion with the NDIA regarding the flexibility of transport, particularly when participants receive periodic payments into their nominated bank account. 

Question 3

Does a Service Agreement need to be in place for an in-kind support?

Answer 3

We acknowledge that the signing of Participant Agreements has come up as an issue in relation to the delivery of in-kind supports.

This question highlights the broader discussion regarding the requirement for providers to have Service Agreements in place with participants. The Provider Toolkit states that it is best practice for providers to have a Service Agreement in place, however is not mandatory. Providers delivering supports that are not in-kind are required to have Service Agreements in place for payment assurance and GST purposes.

It is important to note that providers delivering residential services as defined by the Disability Act 2006 are required to have a residential statement in place as per quality and safeguarding requirements, regardless of in-kind arrangements.

Refer to section 5.1 of the NDIS Provider Toolkit- Service Agreements for further information.

Question 4

How are the DHHS administered Vacancy Coordination Team (VCT) and Disability Support Register (DSR) different?

Answer 4

DHHS will coordinate the process to advertise, receive and consider applications for residency in all government owned SDA dwellings in transitioned and non-transitioned areas in Victoria through the Vacancy Coordination Team (VCT) as a transitional arrangement. Other providers delivering SDA/SIL will have the choice to opt out of the DHHS-managed system if they operate and own their own dwellings, however will need to demonstrate compliance with the ‘Offering Vacancy in Specialist Disability Accommodation’ policy. 

More information can be found in the Vacancy Coordination Practice Guide (September 2017). 

The Vacancy Coordination Practice Guide details that: "The introduction of SDA into the NDIS brings a change to how participants with specialist housing needs will find a home. The NDIA, as the administrator of the NDIS, does not manage or coordinate placements into SDA dwellings via a centralised process. Instead, participants with SDA in their plans will need to look for a home and SDA providers will need to advertise vacancies to these participants. 

For participants this means considering advertised SDA vacancies, selecting which to apply for, and considering and negotiating any offers to reside in a SDA dwelling, with assistance from their supports. SDA providers are responsible for advertising SDA vacancies and carrying out processes to review applications and to identify their suitable participant to offer residency in their SDA dwelling. The decision to accept or decline a SDA offer rests with the participant."

The guide also stipulates that: "Community service organisations (CSO) SDA providers, in consultation with the SIL providers operating in their dwelling, are required to develop their own procedures for offering residency in SDA that comply with the minimum standards outlined in the policy. SDA and SIL providers may choose to engage an external provider to coordinate this process. The department’s VCTs may be engaged to coordinate the process of advertising, receiving and considering applications for SDA."

Question 5

Will a participant be eligible for SLES if the region in which they live does not roll over until March this 2018?

Answer 5

School leavers who transition in 2018 (for example, Bayside, in March) should have received funding for Futures For Young Adults program (FFYA).
Because they will not have been assessed for SLES, they will not have SLES reflected in their plans. If employment is a goal in their plan, they may receive funding for SLES-type supports.

We hope that this month’s Top 5 provides clarification and insight. Do you have a question on your mind? Find out more or join the helpdesk here.

Contact information
Elise Garraway, Policy and Project Officer, 03 8341 4300,