What role does a support coordinator play in assisting their clients to understand their overall budget and the different categories of funding within it – and helping them to budget and allocate their funding to the supports they need?
KW – As a provider, we personally obtain the participant’s ‘wish’ list during onboarding and get an indication on which parts are highest priority. We compile this into the budget template and communicate the outcome back to the participant. If there is surplus, we explain areas where they could increase and additional supports they may be able to access, and we help with understanding that.
If it is over budget, we provide options to the participant as to how they could plan their supports/therapists to stay within the budget, look at any mainstream supports that we can utilise to maximise the funding, and explore reviews if deemed necessary.
We like to educate our participants as much as possible on the different categories, and what is reasonable and necessary as well as disability related. We have also created a course on this for NDIS participants to assist with expanding their knowledge.
DB – Support coordinators have a key role in supporting the person to understand processes, rules, and jargon in NDIS plans. Support coordinators collaborate with people to find language that makes the most sense for each individual person and helps build their capacity in exercising choice and control and managing their plan budget.
It is valuable to make it a regular part of your practice to log onto the plan manager portal together with your participants so you can both keep track of how the budget is going. The person is the decision maker; the support coordinator can support the person to have access to the information they need to make those decisions.
There’s a time in a support coordinator’s life before finding out about service bookings, and another time afterwards! They’re a handy tool that involve collaboration between the person, the service provider, the support coordinator (if needed), and the plan manager that help to introduce more structure and certainty into the process. Supporting our people to embrace service bookings is a great step in that person having more control over their budget.
Some participants already have the capacity to track and manage their budgets independently. When participants are new to the NDIS though, there is often still a need to help them orient and become familiar with what the plan is, how it works, the language used etc.
At Aspire Recovery Connection (ARC), we view this process as another opportunity to help people be empowered, informed, and in control of their NDIS plan, and by extension, their recovery journey. It is embedded in our practice to invite regular conversations about budgets, budget categories, and how these fit within NDIS plans overall and foster active participation in decision-making around use of funds.
EH – One of the biggest jobs a support coordinator has is to assist a participant to understand their budget and then help them to implement that budget in a way that is reasonable and necessary and helps them to achieve their NDIS goals.
Helping participants and their families to identify what supports they would like, as well as potentially other supports they had not identified using previously, and then connecting this to their NDIS budgets is a great way to start with creating an overall budget for their support. From there, I will typically work with the participant to review the reports and planning preparation they have done and develop a draft budget with amounts directed to specific supports.
By working with the participant to create an actual budget for their plan and working through with them the amounts budgeted for each provider, I then encourage participants to communicate with their current and new providers to develop service agreements to match their budget.
Two things I always encourage participants to consider are the whole cost of a support – reports, service delivery and travel – as well as how much of a contingency they will need for the end of the plan.
ZD – I believe a support coordinator should be playing a huge role in assisting their participants to understand their plans, how much funding they have in each category, and what type of support services they can use each category for. A support coordinator should also have contacted the participant’s LAC /NDIA/plan manager to find out exactly how many hours they have for each support in their plan.
If the support coordinator is prepared with this information, then they can help participants/carers to budget and allocate their funding correctly to stay within their budget. For example, if the support coordinator knows the participant has core funding for 20 hours per week for self-care support, 10 hours per week for community access support, and 2 hours per week for domestic activities support, then the participant can inform their support worker service and cleaning service of these hours and their plan will stay within budget for the full plan.
AT – A support coordinator should sit down and take the time to explain a participant’s plan, how the budget is used, and what it can be used for.
Taking the time to explain it is important. If they find it difficult to understand, it can be written down in point form or provided as an easy read document about their plan and how they can use it.
Additionally, having a decent plan manager who can assist the participant with their budget and provide monthly budget reports is helpful, as is keeping in regular contact to manage incoming invoices to approve before payment.