We asked the team at PQ Plus for un update on how COVID-19 is affecting NDIS providers undergoing NDIS registration and NDIS audits.
They have provided us with the following:
WHAT CAN NDIS PROVIDERS DO NOW?
You have the authority to act – manage risk
You have the authority to determine when it’s safe and viable to deliver your supports. It’s in the NDIS Practice Standards and hasn’t changed with COVID 19.
It’s about identifying and treating all relevant risks to participants, staff, the community and your business.
Whatever your risk management measures you take, be sure your decisions are based on reliable information. Record your decision-making process and your reasons for the actions you take – and be sure to report properly. The current risk management issues include:
- Continuity planning:
- Clearly define roles and responsibilities
- Map roles against require qualifications (avoid substituting with unqualified or unscreened staff)
- Develop documented plans to fill roles with appropriately trained, experienced and screened workers as needed.
- Reach out to your local provider network to discuss pooling staff if required.
- Ensure supplies of critical materials
- Continuity of supports planning also includes:
- communication with staff and participants
- ensuring participant risk assessments, support plans, emergency plans, contact details, medication lists etc. are up to date
- Staff and participant safety. Ensure that staff are:
- kept informed
- trained in infection control
- practicing the advised measures
- Information security: As services do more work online, risks to information security increase. See this resource from Infoxchange
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- Financial risk:
- Check your cashflow and projected income and expenditure
- Ensure you stay informed about the Federal Government’s stimulus packages and the additional financial assistance being provided by the NDIA.
Reliable sources of data for NDIS Providers include:
- The central information page for the NDIS Commission
- The NDIS Disaster Response page
- Registered providers will have received updates from the NDIS Commission, outlining the key compliance issues and information sources for NDIS Providers. You can see this here.
- The Department of Health website
Record and Report
You will no doubt have to make some tough decisions.
- Notify the NDIS Commission of any changes that:
- significantly affects your ability to comply with your conditions of registration and the NDIS Practice Standards
- seriously impairs your ability to effectively conduct your operations and deliver ongoing supports or services to NDIS participants
- adversely affects a person with disability’s access to the supports or services you are registered to provide.
- Communicate with participants and record their agreement to any changes in service delivery. If talking with participants over the phone, note this alongside the consent.
- Record your decision-making process and reasons for taking actions.
WHAT HELP IS AVAILABLE?
Help from the NDIS
On 21 March the Federal Government announced new measures to support NDIS participants and providers.
For participants, this will include:
- NDIS plans to be extended by up to 24 months, ensuring continuity of support and increasing capacity of NDIA staff to focus on urgent and required changes to plans.
- Face to face planning shifted to telephone meetings where possible.
- Action plan to ensure NDIS participants and their families continue to receive the essential disability supports they need.
- Proactive outreach to high-risk participants and sharing of data with states and territories to ensure continuity of supports.
- Support Coordination in Core: With many people struggling to access their disability supports, Support Coordination has become an essential service and a new line item for Support Coordination has been added to Core. This will allow participants without Support Coordination funding (or who have used all of theirs up) to access the service through their Core budget.
The Support Coordinator does not need to be registered to provide Core services. But people who are Agency managed will still need to use a registered provider.
For providers, this will include:
- One-month advance payment to registered providers to give them immediate cash flow relief (based on a monthly average of supports delivered in the previous 3 month period)
- A 10% ‘COVID-19 loading’ for up to 6 months on price limits for:
- Assistance with daily life (excluding Supported Independent Living)
- Assistance with Social and Community Participation
- Improved Daily Living
- Allowing providers to charge 100% for cancellations
- Broadening the definition of a ‘Short Notice Cancellation’ (detail is yet to be provided)
See the Ministers’ announcement.
Infection Control Resources
Information and training courses relating to infection control have been made available by the Department of Health – you can access them here: https://www.health.gov.au/
The Council for Intellectual Disability has developed easy read information for participants.
Federal Small Business Stimulus Package
The Federal Government has also released a stimulus package, targeting small business owners. For many of you, this support may be crucial in to support your viability. Stay up to date on these measures! Get in touch with your accountant and see what this means for your business.
WHAT ABOUT AUDITS?
Currently, several auditing companies are saying that audits will go ahead. There may be changes in the way that the audit is done – e.g., Stage 2 onsite audits might be conducted offsite. If so, this may cause information security issues. Consult with your auditing company about de-identifying participant documents etc..
If you have an audit booked and are in doubt of what arrangements are in place, please contact your auditing company.
Of course, the situation is changing rapidly and it is important to stay informed about the situation and the government’s response. This information was current on 23 February, 2020.
PQ Plus are NDIS Audit and Registration Consultants. Find out more about the service they offer.