As an NDIS Support Coordinator (SC), your time is the most valuable asset you have, since this is what you are charging for. This means that you absolutely should be billing for the time spent with clients so that your business (whether a company or as an individual) is sustainable both economically and physically.
At MyCareSpace we have a deep respect for SC and the role they play in support individuals and families. We have many conversations with SC on a weekly basis and so focus on how MyCareSpace can best support them in the incredible challenging work they do.
The purpose of this resource is to share the methods, tips and tricks that Support Coordinators are using successfully to help them remain economically sustainable and bill appropriately.
How many hours of SC does a participant get?
Basic SC funding is 24 hours a year. This amount can be increased when the planner or LAC determines that the need for more support is reasonable and necessary amount in each individual case.
Typically SC is seen in 3 levels*:
- Low: 1 to 2 hours a month/ approx. 24 hours a year
- Medium: 3 to 6 hours a month/ approx. 36-72 hours a year
- High: 7 – 9 hours a month
Estimating how many hours you plan to spend on each part of a participant's support over the duration of the plan is essential - for both you and your participant.
In your initial meeting, you will create an 'Action Plan' for your participant that covers:
- What the role of the SC is
- What the role of the Participant is - what can the participant do themselves? Remember that our role as a SC includes building the capacity of their participants.
- The goals you plan to achieve with your participant over the duration of their plan
You will also address the support tasks you plan to provide and how many hours you plan to allocate to each task over the 12 months (or plan duration).
These are the support tasks a SC will typically need to allocate time for:
- The initial client meeting (2 hours)
- The time needed to look for services, providers and supports for the participant (5 hours +)
- Ongoing check-ins, calls, meetings (7 hours)
- Planning and Crisis (4 hours)
- Preparation for their Plan Review (6 hours)
Initial Meeting - Setting Expectations
The very first step of managing your billing time is setting realistic expectations for your clients. You can even place these expectations in their service agreement.
i. Communication with your participant
Inform your client:
- What your working hours are Mon - Fri
- When you check emails
- When you return phone calls
- When you schedule meetings
- Urgent messages? Text or email.
ii. Face to Face vs non-Face to Face Services
Explain to your client the difference between face-to-face services and non-face-to-face services. And how both form a very important part of the support you provide. Set expectations around the number of hours you will spend on both.
Describe the type of non-face-to-face services performed, like:
- Time spent looking for services, supports and service providers
- Time spent scheduling meetings with participants, family members/supports and service providers
- Travel time and costs
- The additional time that may need to be spent with you for communication reasons. e.g using a communicative device, translation services etc
- The time needed to support a participant as well as any communication with their family
- NDIS - time that is needed to navigate the rules and regulations
Scheduling both your face-to-face (meeting with your participant and others) and non-face-to-face time (travel, research, reporting etc)
Non-face-to-face time will take up a major part of our time
After setting expectations around what this might entail, you need to decide how you can best manage the time you spend between the two.
- You could alternate weeks for meetings and research/writing
- Make sure you schedule your work to your most productive hours. If you work best in the mornings, write your reports in the mornings!
- Make sure to set agendas for meetings - both face to face and online. Use the mantra, "no agenda, no attenda!"
Case notes are incredibly important and should be completed each time you have a meeting of any kind or you perform work on behalf of the participant.
Write your case notes immediately after each meeting and at the very least, on the same day.
TIP: A seasoned SC tells us that as he leaves a meeting he verbally records case notes on his laptop. He then emails the recordings to himself and writes up the notes when he gets back to the office. He uses Microsoft Outlook voice memo to do this, but there are many other voice memo apps to use.
Many SC are using this super little free app that converts audio to text:
Ensure you record the time spent at the same time.
Billable vs Non-Billable Hours
Keep track of billable hours by using a timer (yes really). There are many apps to record time:
If it's during face-to-face meetings start and end as your meeting does.
During non-face-to-face hours, use your timer to record work slots.
For example, set a 30min timer for report writing or call making. Record.
Time Saving Tips
- Outsource the Research - Let the MyCareSpace connection team do the provider heavy lifting for you - We know which providers have the skills, experience and capacity you need.
- Delegate tasks to the Participant where possible - Tasks like filling in forms, looking for services (with the help of MyCareSpace). This builds the capacity of the Participant as well as gives the SC more expertise hours to spend.
- Team up with Other SC - whether you work as an independent or in a team, draw on the expert skills of other SC. E.g. justice, mental health, crisis.