The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is an Australian government-funded scheme that allows NDIS participants to access life-changing disability supports and services. The cornerstone of this scheme’s success is the integrated plan management services. NDIS participants can choose fund management options, including working closely with an NDIS registered Plan Manager to ensure they receive the support they need. So, who is an NDIS Plan Manager?
What is the NDIS?
To understand the role of an NDIS Plan Manager, it is useful to understand the NDIS as a whole. The NDIS was established in 2013 as a result of lengthy discussions about major reforms needed in Australia’s disability sector. The scheme aims to ensure that all Australians living with significant and permanent disabilities have access to the support they need. Alongside the establishment of the NDIS came the creation of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). This independent statutory agency implements and delivers the NDIS in all Australian states and territories.
How does NDIS plan management work?
When accepted into the scheme, NDIS participants have four options for managing their NDIS-approved funding:
Self-management. If participants choose to keep their funding self-managed, the NDIS will provide them with funding to allocate independently.
Agency management. Participants can choose to have the NDIA pay providers on their behalf. Participants do not need to manage funding on their own.
Plan management. Participants may choose to engage a plan manager to pay providers and handle financial information on their behalf. If participants choose plan management, the NDIA will include funding in their NDIS plan to pay a plan manager.
Combination management. Participants may use two or more of these options to handle their funding.
Once accepted into the program, participants can request a plan manager at their initial planning meeting. If an individual would like to add plan management to an existing plan, they can contact the NDIS. No matter which management options an individual chooses, they will maintain a high level of choice and control over how their funds are spent.
What is a service agreement?
One of the ways an NDIS participants can ensure they maintain a high level of choice and control over their NDIS plan is to enter into a service agreement with their plan manager. Service agreements are recommended to agree on:
which services the plan manager will provide
how the plan manager will supply those services
how long the participant would like to engage the plan manager for
Establishing service agreements is a great way to ensure both parties are clear on roles, responsibilities and dispute resolution.
What does an NDIS planner do?
When using NDIS plan management, participants can enjoy the benefits of their NDIS plan without the stress of keeping track of invoices, reports or any other tasks they may find tricky. There are many reasons an individual may choose plan management services. They may lack confidence in dealing with financial tasks, they may have trouble communicating effectively or they may want to have someone else take on any time-consuming tasks relating to their NDIS funds.
Plan managers can support participants throughout their NDIS journey by:
teaching them to self-manage their own plan (if this is something they want to do)
helping them build skills such as financial literacy and plan management
handling all the paperwork including record-keeping and budget control
paying invoices for any registered and unregistered providers approved in the NDIS plan
How to find a plan manager for NDIS?
Many experts offer plan management services in Australia. When choosing your own plan manager, you must find one you feel comfortable with. There are different ways to find and connect with potential plan managers including:
using the Provider Finder tool on the NDIS MyPlace portal
speaking to friends and family – they may know a good plan manager through personal experience
connecting with your local area coordinator, support coordinator or early childhood NDIS partner
using other online websites, forums and resources
Using the Provider Finder tool on the NDIS portal is highly recommended. This database contains details for NDIS registered providers who have been thoroughly vetted and adhere to NDIS practice standards.
Before making any decisions regarding plan management or your NDIS funds, it’s recommended that you seek independent advice. While plan-managed funding is helpful for some participants, agency-managed or self-managed funding may be more appropriate for your particular circumstances.