3 minute read – Business Management Series – NDIS Compliance
If you work in a back office or leadership role within a NDIS service provider, you are likely no stranger to the stringent regulations that govern the scheme, and the requirement for your organisation to show its adherence when audited for compliance.
While this level of scrutiny and the nature of some of these regulations may seem restrictive, as providers, you also know they are necessary, to help ensure every participant is given the best and most effective care.
Like any industry, the quality-of-service provision changes from organisation-to-organisation, and the aim of regulation is to try to ensure a strong standard, sector-wide.
In speaking with our users, we know audits are not only daunting, they are hard work! We’ve highlighted some of the key challenges many providers experience:
- Keeping up with the changes
As a continuously evolving initiative, the NDIS challenges services providers to stay on top of changes to practices, fees and of course, compliance.
In interviewing one NDIS service provider employee, we were told that ‘compliance wouldn’t be so difficult, if it just stayed still for a minute’.
And while she mentioned this lightly, with a smile, we can see across the sector, the issue of moving goalposts is one that not only costs money, but requires regular time and effort.
- Getting started in the NDIS
As we all know, the NDIS service provision sector is a diverse space. We have providers that have thousands of employees, and we have small businesses, with only a few people facilitating its services.
Bigger providers often have the advantage a larger and more experienced, management team, with a greater understanding of the complexities of the scheme and its compliance requirements.
For smaller organisations, just getting started can be a challenge.
All providers must go through an audit process when they begin offering services. While crucial issues may put a stop to registration in the first place, more minor issues might require an action plan or the allocation of some time to fix the problem before registration or renewal is complete.
Preparing for an audit can be difficult, and it is important to note that an Auditor is there to do their job, not to help. They will check the organisation against the NDIS’ quality requirements and standards, they will not provide advice or consultation on how you can comply.
That being said, a number of excellent consulting companies do exist, that can provide much needed insight and expertise, and can even conduct a pre-audit to ensure organisations are prepared.
- Detailed record keeping
The greatest challenge with record keeping is actually doing it, and getting employees to do it!
In addition, to diving into various parts of your business, auditors will also require the provision of a range of documents and records to assess the compliance of an organisation.
Where many organisations fall down on the record keeping front, is time and commitment.
The intention is there, initially the procedure is in place, but between the day-to-day delivery of services, and facilitating other tasks, thorough reporting can get overlooked.
When this is the case, often there is a flurry of activity before audit to try to get everything up to speed.
Effective induction, training and internal audits, play a big part in managing time and commitment to procedures.
Using training to ensure employees not only understand their responsibilities when it comes to record keeping, but are also very comfortable with the business and case management software being used, is crucial. This is especially the case for areas like complaints and incident records.
Perhaps most important, is making sure record keeping is second nature, and a habitual part of every role.
- Process in practice
This leads perfectly into the challenges of turning process or policy into practice. Record keeping is just one requirement of completing a positive audit, there are many more, and as noted above, that is on top of the regular workload.
Organisations can have the best intent when writing policy and procedures for how their business operates, but if these don’t translate on the coalface – if they aren’t practical or can’t be facilitated within the limitations of the time or abilities of employees – they get lost.
When developing policy and procedure, it is important to take a consultative approach, especially when it will be implemented in roles within which the policy writer has little practical experience.
- Participant self determination
Self-determination is the process by which a person controls their own life (Oxford Dictionary).
The basic concept of the NDIS rests on this idea – that a participant should have more choice and opportunity to govern both the way they are supported, and the goals they want to achieve now and in the long-term.
Enabling participant control can be easier said than down. Organisations can drop the ball on this front due to the simplest of factors, such as inadequate staff training or even time-poor employees.
As above, this is not just about putting in place more stringent policy, but about how those policies are brought to life and implemented.
Ongoing employee training, with a nod to time management and operating under stress and tight deadlines, is crucial to really enabling policy implementation, and in turn, participants to make their own positive decisions.
Not getting participant control right, can lead to more complaints, which must be kept as detailed records and will be considered during auditing.
What is obvious from all the points above is that policy and procedure, implementation and training will all be drivers towards a successful audit, or a negative outcome.
Getting it right from the start, through consultation and collaboration with staff at all levels will go a long way towards a better result.
VisiCase provides an NDIS-ready business automation platform, built on powerful workflows. It helps you manage, streamline and optimise every component of your business, and its modules empower a positive employee and client experience.