How Service Agreements help you make more of your NDIS plan
A continence nurse has recommended a continence assessment for Craig, who recently had his NDIS plan approved.
Craig (name changed) found an assessor, made an appointment, and shared with her, his NDIS plan. The assessor could see that Craig’s plan had enough funding to cover her services, and so she completed the assessment. However, Craig had not asked prior to the assessment what it involved and how much it would cost. When he saw the bill afterwards, he thought it was unreasonable – even though his plan would cover it.
The result was a disagreement that left neither the assessor nor Craig happy. A Service Agreement could have avoided this outcome. If Craig had begun the appointment by completing a Service Agreement with the assessor, both he and the assessor would have discussed at the outset the support he would get from her, the responsibilities each incurred, and all the costs involved.
The assessor could have explained why her proposed fee was fair. And if Craig did not agree, he could have declined the assessment.
“Arm yourself with knowledge. Knowing where you can seek support and assistance, and being prepared, will go a long way towards you getting the most from your plan.”
What is a Service Agreement?
Service Agreements are documents that describe what supports you will receive from a provider under your NDIS plan, how and when those supports will be delivered, and how much they will cost.
A Service Agreement is particularly helpful for avoiding confusion and misunderstanding. Most importantly, it puts you firmly in charge of how your NDIS funds are spent.
A Service Agreement usually covers the following:
- A description of the support;
- When the support will be provided;
- How much the support will cost. This is particularly relevant if the support comes from core funding. Core funding is flexible but it is also finite.
It is a good idea to attach a copy of your NDIS plan to each Service Agreement, as this will give the service provider a clear picture of how their support fits into the bigger picture. But you don’t have to do this.
Other things you can put in your Service Agreement include:
- How you would like your supports to be provided;
- Where you would like your supports to be provided;
- For how long you would like your supports provided;
- How any problems or issues that may arise will be dealt with;
- Your responsibilities – such as letting your provider know if you can’t make an appointment;
- Your provider’s responsibilities – such as working with you to deliver your supports in the right way.
“Always remember it is your NDIS plan, and you have the choice and control on how you would like to use it,” says Fiona Scoullar, NDIS Service Development officer with AQA Victoria.
“Service Agreements are supporting documents that are a good way to make sure you receive the services that are right for you.”
An NDIS Support Coordinator can help you prepare a Service Agreement that you can work through with a new provider. “If you have Support Coordination in your NDIS plan, it is a good idea to talk to the coordinator before engaging new service providers,” Ms Scoullar says. “The coordinator can help you find the best ways to implement your plan.
“If you don’t have Support Coordination, then your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) should be your first point of call if you have any questions".