How to Navigate the Unclear Horizon for Service Providers
3 July 2018 at 8:18 am
There are many hoops and hurdles to navigate in maintaining National Disability Insurance Scheme registration and compliance, but Centro ASSIST can help providers work through the steps, writes Bruce Nixon, Holocentric CEO.
There’s a new dawn for disability care in Australia, but the horizon remains unclear for service providers.
The Quality and Safeguarding Framework (QSF) will eventually yield a nationally consistent set of standards governing the procurement and provision of services funded by the NDIS. But it is still a work in progress, with many of its components under review.
Providers in New South Wales and South Australia, where the QSF has initially rolled out on 1 July, are transitioning over from state and NDIA registration. They are now answerable to the Quality and Safeguards Commission (the other states and territories will follow later), which has taken on many of the regulatory responsibilities of the NDIA.
What’s in the regulatory pipeline?
Beyond registration, which is well-defined by the QSF, the regulatory picture for providers is far less clear.
In May, the commission released draft versions of seven guidelines for public consultation. The window for feedback closed in June and the policies were put under review by the commission.
The commission has yet to announce expected timelines for adopting these guidelines and whether they’ll become policy. Its latest feedback is: “These guidelines will continue to develop in light of feedback and the experience of the NDIS Commission in administering the NDIS rules.”
These policy documents are:
- reportable incidents guidance – setting out to service providers the definition for determining whether an incident is reportable, how to respond and how to report it to the commission;
- incident management system guidance – the process that providers must follow to identify, manage and resolve an incident;
- effective complaint handling guidelines for NDIS providers – how providers should implement effective complaints management processes, and readily provide information on them to third-parties;
- complaints management and resolution guidance – the NDIS’ principles and procedures for managing and resolving complaints about service providers;
- code of conduct guidance for workers – the standard of professional behaviour expected of anyone providing care services, not only in regards to safety and competence, but also attitude towards participants;
- code of conduct guidance for service providers – covering the standards expected of a provider in regards to safety, competence and attitude towards participants, as well as the support and guidance they give to ensure their workers meet these standards; and
- National Disability Insurance Scheme (procedural fairness) guidelines 2018 – the rules that apply when a complaint or allegation is made to the commission about a provider.
Each of these policies and processes will apply to all providers of NDIS-funded services, whether or not they are registered with the NDIS.
Getting registered under QSF
The NDIS suggested that service providers wait until after 1 July before submitting their applications so that they now fall under the QSF and the new Quality and Safeguarding Commission. Under the commission, providers must agree to work under the QSF, which requires them to demonstrate they are capable of delivering services to a high level of quality and safety.
There are many hoops and hurdles to navigate in terms of documentation for NDIS registration and compliance. Mapping out what is required has given us some insights into the complexity. Our web app, Centro ASSIST, helps providers work through the steps to register and meet their compliance obligations.
Importantly, subscribers to the web app get access to a suite of ready-made documents including the 22 processes and policies required to be a registered service provider. For a low monthly subscription to Centro ASSIST, subscribers can include these documents in their applications.
However, non-subscribers must find other, more costly sources for these NDIS-compliant documents, such as a legal firm or business consultancy.
Looking to the future
It’s still early days for the QSF and the NDIS – and there have been many teething problems well documented in the media. This is understandable with such an ambitious and expensive undertaking, affecting so many lives.
Ultimately, to succeed, the QSF will need to evolve to meet the challenges, as and when they present themselves. So nothing is certain for providers, except that the way ahead for QSF compliance and maintaining NDIS registration is sure to yield many twists and turns.
Centro ASSIST is a web app that enables services providers to register and stay compliant with the NDIS.
You can stay up-to-date with NDIS and QSF changes with Centro Alerts by email.
Bruce Nixon is the CEO of Holocentric, the providers of Centro ASSIST for NDIS service providers. www.centroassist.com.au