Safeguarding role of a Support Coordinator

Guest blogger Mary Ingerton, Managing Director at Support Coordination Academy, talks through the Support Coordinator role as a safeguard for participants.

NDIS and Participant Safeguards

Safeguards are actions designed to protect the rights of people to be safe from harm. They also increase a participant’s ability to have choice and control over their lives.

Formal safeguards are the rules and actions applied by organisations to ensure the safety of the participants they support. These include:

  • NDIS Code of Conduct
  • NDIS Complaints and Incident Reporting processes
  • Service Provider policies, systems, and procedures
  • Government Funded Advocacy Programs
  • Appointed Guardianship

Natural or informal safeguards are the actions and features that are part of a person’s daily life that support them to stay safe. These include:

  • Actions that help people with disability to make informed decisions e.g. providing accessible information, sharing information to build confidence and skills.
  • Having a trusted network of people to support, look out for and possibly help advocate for the participant e.g. family, friends, connections in the community etc.
  • Paid advisers e.g. Support Coordinators, allied health therapists, support workers etc.

Support Coordinators deliver safe, and quality supports to participants by implementing developmental, preventative, and corrective safeguarding measures.

Developmental measures strengthen the capability of participants and providers to reduce the risk of harm and to promote quality services. For example, working with a participant to build their capacity, confidence and skills to self-advocate, problem-solve challenges and make informed choices.

Preventative measures proactively regulate providers and workers to reduce the risk of harm and promote quality services. Examples include working with a participant to negotiate how their supports are to be delivered and reviewing Service Agreements to regulate services provided. A Support Coordinator also works collaboratively to build a resilient network of supports around a participant and facilitates case review meetings in highly complex situations, to ensure all providers are working towards the same goals and expected outcomes.

Corrective measures are used to problem solve issues, enable improvements, and avoid the same issues recurring. Examples of corrective measures include. facilitating person centred planning to understand a participant’s goals and developing Action Plans with strategies to overcome barriers. Check-ins help a Support Coordinator to address issues before they escalate, and Risk Assessments help to put mitigation strategies in place to reduce the likelihood of risks occurring.

These safeguarding actions enable a Support Coordinator, to promote the safety of participants and helps to ensure a participant is able to exercise their rights, and have choice and control over their supports and services.

Critical Incident Reporting

The NDIS Incident Management and Reportable Incident Rules 2018, require registered providers to have an incident management system in place, to respond to, notify and investigate reportable incidents.

A registered provider is required to notify the NDIS Quality and Safeguard Commission of a reportable incident when the incident happened in connection with the provision of supports or services by that provider.

Support Coordinators also ensure unregistered providers understand any potential risks for a participant and have the right skills and expertise to respond to and safely manage any situations that may occur.

Service providers are more likely to report and advise of an incident when they have a collaborative working relationship with a Support Coordinator, enabling them to take action to ensure effective strategies are in place to reduce the risk of harm to a participant.

NDIS Code of Conduct

All providers, whether registered or unregistered, who are providing NDIS funded supports or services to a participant, are bound by the NDIS Code of Conduct, and must promote safe and ethical service delivery.

A Support Coordinator’s role is to proactively take steps to build the capacity of a participant to understand their rights to be free from harm, including experiencing unacceptable, inappropriate, or unethical practices.

Support Coordinators also educate providers of their responsibilities under the NDIS Code of Conduct by sharing information, resources, and links to the Commission website, especially if they are new to the disability sector.

Recent updates to the NDIS Code of Conduct include conditions around Price Differentiation as a form of sharp practice. This includes not charging a higher price for the same product offered to people who are not participants of the NDIS, providing services or claiming funds for services that are contrary to the intention of NDIS funding approved on a participant’s Plan, or when selling a business, falsely claiming that participants and their NDIS Plans are a guaranteed source of income or will transfer with the business as part of the sale.

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

Would you like to receive our monthly Support Coordinator emails?

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date