There’s no doubt that self-managing your NDIS plan gives you great flexibility. You can choose supports from different businesses. You can also choose to engage independent support workers, or directly employ your own staff.
However, with this flexibility comes significant additional responsibilities. These may include managing service agreements, and organising and managing a roster of support workers. If you employ your own staff, there may be employer obligations you will also need to meet. For some people, the extra responsibilities are no burden at all. It’s simply a way to have more control with an NDIS plan. Others, however, may not have the time or capability to take on these additional requirements.
Do you self-manage your NDIS plan? Are you thinking about finding your own team of support workers? If so, here are a few points to consider…
Are you in safe hands?
One of the reasons that may have prompted you to self-manage your NDIS plan, is the control over the choice of support workers. Your team of support workers will be coming into your home, your safe space. They will need to understand and tend to your very personal needs. If you are engaging an independent support worker, conducting a thorough background check is a must, for your own safety and wellbeing. Check their qualifications, experience, referees, National Police Check, and Working with Children Check (if applicable). If you choose to engage a reputable home care provider, they will have carried out their own extensive security checks on their support workers, to eliminate any risk and assure your safety. Recently, a new additional requirement has been implemented for registered NDIS providers. It requires their employees, such as support workers in certain caregiving roles, to have an NDIS Worker Screening Check. If you hire an independent support worker, you too may prefer that they obtain this extra level of screening for your own protection and peace of mind. Remember to also ask your independent support worker if they have public liability insurance, and professional indemnity insurance. Plus, check that their vehicle is roadworthy, registered, and insured if they provide you with NDIS supports such as transport, or social and community participation.
Are you thinking of using an online platform to find and hire independent support workers? Remember, the online platform is merely an avenue that connects NDIS participants with independent support workers. The online platform is not a business that has employed or contracted people to provide care services. This means it’s your responsibility to check the support worker’s qualifications, security checks, insurances, and registration. Don’t rely on the online platform to thoroughly check these for you.
What if there is a problem?
Unfortunately, sometimes unpleasant incidents can occur with support workers who do not fulfil their duty of care. If you hired your support worker via an online platform, and remembering the platform is not their employer, what happens if there is a problem with your support worker? Where can you turn for help? Who will listen? Who can respond? Who will take action to fix the situation for you?
If you choose a home care provider and there is an incident with your support worker, you have somewhere to turn. It’s easy to contact the provider and let them know what happened. They have the resources to quickly respond, make sure you’re ok, and take appropriate action. A reputable home care provider will not retain a support worker who is a risk to you or their business.
Will you have support when you need it?
Flexibility means having the type of care you want – when you need it. So, it’s essential to communicate your specific needs, likes and dislikes, to your service provider. If you engage a team of independent support workers, it will take time to communicate your unique care requirements to each and every one of them. Additionally, there won’t be any form of ‘hand-over’ communication between your independent support workers from one shift to the next.
If you engage a registered NDIS home care provider, the scenario is different. Most home care providers have a team of people who communicate with each other to manage your supports. You won’t spend time repeating yourself, advising each support worker of your likes and dislikes, over and over. Home care providers also have proven systems to record and communicate any issues for ‘hand-over’ of care.
Also, what happens if your support worker is sick and unable to come as planned? Or, what happens if your support worker fails to turn up without any warning?
If you have engaged independent support workers via an online platform, it is up to you to have a Plan B in place. It’s not the responsibility of the platform to step in and help. You will need to find, connect with, and arrange another support worker to come to you, as quickly as possible. On the other hand, a home care provider has the resources to ensure you’ll always have a support worker when you need one.
Finding the right support worker or team of support workers can make a huge difference to your life, and care outcomes. If you self-manage your NDIS plan, it’s so important to consider your options very carefully.