This is the second post of our six-part series on confusion-clearing and myth-busting pieces about the NDIS. As we said in the first post, What’s going on with the float for people who self-manage their NDIS funds, please respond in the comments or contact us if you’ve been given different advice from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)!
This is another confusion-clearing piece – this time about the difference between Support Coordination, Plan Management and Local Area Coordinators (LACs).
As an NDIS participant, you (or your nominee) become responsible for getting started, understanding your plan and its budgets, and finding and connecting with supports and services in your community to achieve your the goals in your plan.
A Support Coordinator is someone who could be funded separately in your NDIS plan to help you do just this!
They are like the person you can look at and say ‘Holy cow now I have my plan what do I do now?’
They should be like a partner to you to ‘breathe life into your plan’ and become your contact person.
At present they must also be a person or provider who is registered by the NDIA to provide this service.
The official definition of Support Coordination by the NDIA is
‘Assistance to strengthen participants abilities to coordinate and implement supports and participate more fully in the community. It can include initial assistance with linking participants with the right providers to meet their needs, assistance to source providers, coordinating a range of supports both funded and mainstream and building on informal supports, resolving points of crisis, parenting training and developing participant resilience in their own network and community.’
You can find more information about Support Coordination in our Mixed Messages: My First Plan (and How Do I Help People to make the most of their Planning Meetings blog on LinkedIn. If you think you need Support Coordination, you will need to discuss needing assistance for implementing your plan in your planning meeting .
For more information about the services we provide, click here.
Plan Management is one of the ways you can manage your NDIS funding package. Remember there are three options:
- Manage your own funds (self-management)
- Get a professional to do it (plan-management)
- Let the NDIA do it (agency-management)
- A combination of the above.
Again, you will need to say in your planning meeting how you want to manage your NDIS funding package – and you can choose a mix of these options in a way that best suits you.
So a Plan Manager can help with the financial tasks of a plan. For example, organising providers and their payments, processing of claims and invoices and tracking of budgets. They may also do some tasks like a Support Coordinator does – for example, liaising with providers and perhaps trouble-shooting. They are also paid separately in your NDIS plan to do this. They must also be a registered provider.
Like self-management, if you plan-manage your funds, you can use any provider you think will help you achieve the goals in your plan. They don’t need to be registered. We have assisted people link with local services that are not NDIS registered to help achieve their goals – local small business advisors, personal concierges and cleaners as some examples.
So choosing a Plan Manager can be a great way of getting the benefits of self management, but with someone to assist with the financial side of things.
Remember that our social media assistant, Lauren, uses a Plan Manager, and writes about it here.
Local Area Coordinators (LAC)
An LAC may be the person you meet with during your first planning meeting, and then perhaps afterwards.
Because of the large number of people coming through the NDIS, LACs have been tasked with gathering data and information from people in their planning meetings, and will pass this information onto the NDIA so they can turn it into a plan. That is, they have taken on a planning role, although only the NDIA has authority to create an actual plan with dollars against it.
The NDIA has also said that a number of people will be allocated an LAC to help them implement their plan, and perhaps this will be for people they think only need a small amount of help to get started – not for those who need Support Coordination.
We wrote about the specifics of the NSW planning process here.
LACs do not work for the NDIA. In NSW, St Vincent de Paul and Uniting are the organisations that received funding to do this. There are also LACs in some parts of Victoria. Tenders for other States are happening now.
There is some controversy surrounding LACs taking on these planning specific roles. This is because this was not the original intention of the role. Indeed, LAC has a long history in Western Australia, particularly, of vital community development and capacity building work. This is because it is understood that genuine inclusion takes more work than just people with disabilities using their individualised funding packages. For a recent critique about this read here.
Support Coordination is when someone helps you to implement your plan, get started and find services and supports in your local community. Plan Management is one of three funding options you can use to manage your NDIS funds, and Local Area Coordinators (LACs) have been tasked with gathering data and information from people in their planning meetings, and will pass this information onto the NDIA so they can turn it into a plan.