Support Coordination Hours – How to manage the limited hours available

Guest blogger Mary Ingerton, Managing Director at Support Coordination Academy, talks through how to manage your limited Support Coordination hours.

What challenges does a Support Coordinator face, when the NDIS expects them to support a participant to implement and manage their NDIS Plan, with insufficient funding?

Let’s explore this further…

A challenging environment

The limited assessment by the NDIS of a participant’s need for Support Coordination, often results in inconsistency in the number of hours allocated and does not reflect the complex barriers a participant is experiencing in their life, or the intensive level of Support Coordination service required.

This lack of appropriate assessment, creates a challenging environment for a Support Coordinator to work in, due to the allocation of hours not taking into consideration:

  • the time it takes to build collaborative working relationships with the participant’s complex support network, to educate mainstream providers or to navigate the interface with the NDIS and the broader community;
  • the need for additional hours to flexibly support a participant to manage a crisis when they occur; or
  • the time it takes to navigate and manage the incredibly complicated and often unresponsive NDIS processes.

Proactive approach

Even with all of these challenges, Support Coordinators have a professional responsibility to manage the limited hours available.

A Support Coordination provider must have clear systems in place, to ensure:

  • the participant has a realistic expectation of the service they can provide with the limited hours available.
  • they develop an Action Plan with an agreement of the activities they will complete.
  • there is transparency around how a participant will be charged for the hours used.
  • the Support Coordination provider continually reviews, assesses, and supports a participant to plan for their future disability related support needs, including the need for Support Coordination.

When first accepting a referral to work with a participant, a provider needs to ensure they have systems in place to gather enough information to assess:

  • if they can add value and have the right skills to support the participant to manage their complex situation; and
  • the participant has the appropriate level of Support Coordination hours available on their NDIS Plan.

If a provider chooses to engage a participant with highly complex support needs with insufficient Support Coordination hours, they need to agree on a proactive strategy to manage the limited hours available. This could involve supporting the participant to submit a NDIS Change of Situation and using the limited hours to gather evidence to support the need for additional Support Coordination hours.

When a crisis happens, this is where a Support Coordinator’s assessment and planning skills come into play, to assess how many hours are available and how long the hours will last, taking the level of intensity and the time it takes the NDIS to respond, into consideration.

The aim is to assess when a NDIS Change of Situation needs to be submitted:

  • does the Support Coordinator wait until they’ve gathered all of the evidence needed to substantiate the need for additional hours, running the risk of using up all of the Support Coordination hours available? OR
  • do they support a participant to submit a Change of Situation straight away, providing evidence of the current situation, impact, and risk for the participant, and notifying the NDIA when the Support Coordination hours will run out?

It is important to note, that notifying the NDIS and gathering evidence to substantiate a participant’s support needs, can happen at the same time. A Support Coordinator need to plan ahead and be proactive, as much as possible, to ensure there are enough hours to support a participant when a crisis occurs.

Evidence for Support Coordination

When supporting a participant through a review process, a Support Coordinator needs to provide evidence of how they will add value for a participant. This includes how they will support a participant to build their capacity and increase the resilience in their support network, in effect, empowering a participant to achieve their life goals.

When Support Coordinators write their reports for the NDIS, they need to provide evidence of:

  • how they have used the hours available to support a participant to achieve their goals, including any barriers or risks evident;
  • how the participant’s reduced functional capacity impacts on their ability to implement and manage their NDIS plan; and
  • the participant’s future goals and support needs, including how Support Coordination funding will be used to support the participant to build their capacity and achieve their life goals.

There’s a lot to learn about the NDIS and Support Coordination. To help you to build your skills, Endeavour Foundation has partnered with Support Coordination Academy to offer free online professional learning sessions for Support Coordinators.

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