Plan Management & Support Coordination

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In the new world of the NDIS there is a lot to learn and we understand that this can sometimes feel overwhelming. One area of confusion is in how plan management and support coordination work. Are they one and the same or are the different? The answer is that they are different and here’s how.

Plan Management

Plan management is one of the four ways you can choose to manage the funds in your NDIS plan. The other two options are self-managed and agency-managed. To understand plan management it’s important to understand all four options for managing your plan. These work like this:

  1. Self-management: The NDIA provides funding to you directly to pay for the supports that you need, you may choose from registered and non-registered providers
  2. Agency managed: The NDIA pays providers on your behalf, the funds do not come to you and the providers you choose must be NDIS registered
  3. Plan management: The NDIA will provide funds within your plan for a Plan Manager who will pay your providers for you, help you keep track of funds and take care of financial reporting
  4. A combination of the above. Some people choose to self-manage some supports and have the NDIA or a Plan Manager provide the financial intermediary services  

If you request and receive plan management it will be included in your plan as a separate item known as ‘improved life choices’ which means that all NDIS participants have the option to be plan managed.

Benefits of Plan Management

For many participants, plan management is a happy medium. You have the flexibility to pay for both registered and unregistered providers with your allocated NDIS funds unlike agency management where you must choose NDIS registered providers to support you. You retain the flexibility and control of self-management, to select from both registered and non-registered providers, however you do not have to deal with the financial and administrative side of things. Once your plan is approved, your Plan Manager (who will need to be NDIS registered) will deal with the financial side of your plan, for example your NDIS related invoices.  

It can be a confusing name because a Plan Manager does not “manage” your plan. Your selected Plan Manager administers the financial payments and records on your behalf.

Plan management is a good option for families or individuals who want more control and flexibility over how their needs are met, with the flexibility to choose non-registered providers, but don’t want to deal with the financial side of their NDIS plan.

Support Coordination

Now that we have explained plan management, what is support coordination?

Support coordination will assist you to build the skills you need to understand, implement and use your plan. A Support Coordinator will work with you to ensure your services align to your plan goals.  Depending on your goals, the Support Coordinator will work with you to maximise your plan by ensuring a mix of supports are used to increase your capacity to maintain relationships, manage service delivery tasks, live more independently and be included in your community.

So like plan management the name is a little confusing.  Support coordination suggests a coordinator will “coordinate your supports’. This is not the case.  A Support Coordinator is someone who helps you to implement your plan, getting you started on your NDIS journey and to find services and supports in your local community that will suit your needs and help you meet your goals. If you receive support coordination, it is a separately funded part of your plan.

Benefits of Support Coordination

The role of support coordination includes:

  • Supporting the implementation of your plan and working with you to identify options for all supports in the plan, including informal, mainstream and community, as well as funded supports
  • Strengthening and enhancing your ability to coordinate supports and participate in the community, reach decisions and develop agreements with support providers, and
  • Building capacity to achieve greater independence, to self-direct supports in the longer term and understand what flexibility and choice means with NDIS funding.

But what does all this mean? In simple terms, the main function of support coordination is to teach and advise you on how to connect with and monitor the providers of the supports and services that you choose.  Support Coordinators can assist you to engage with providers and support you to compile what you need from service providers. They should also know other community options that may not need NDIS funding and should be able to guide you on how to best use your funding but also guide you about what your funding does not buy.   

Support coordination is intended to be time limited.  When picking a provider of support coordination it is recommended to choose a provider who has programs to build your understanding of how to choose and monitor service providers.  It is a great opportunity to learn and gain knowledge from them because your funding for support coordination may only last for a short time, so is important to learn as much as you can while you have this funding.

Confusion about these services

People who have received funded services will have heard of support coordination and plan management before.  These terms have been used before but they previously meant different things.

Many service providers have roles called "support coordinators" or "support worker coordinators", these names have been used for a long time.  The people in these roles supervised workers and/or client services at each service providers.  The NDIA has rebadged an old term for new things.  At Xavier we will be changing job titles to help to clear up the confusion. 

Similarly the term “plan management” has also been used before by service providers but it would refer to a task undertaken by a staff member to assist a client to create, review and change a support plan.  Again, the NDIA use of the term is very different and changes the definition of “plan management” from the how it has previously been used.

What to do

If you would like a Plan Manager to help manage your NDIS funds and/or a Support Coordinator to help you implement your plan then you will need to request these from the NDIA at your NDIA planning meeting.  Plan management will be approved for you if you request it.

Support coordination is subject to the NDIA assessment of the “reasonable and necessary” criteria. For this reason, you need to make sure that you specifically ask for support coordination in your planning meeting, if you feel that you need this support. You will need to state why it is reasonable and necessary that you receive support coordination to help implement your plan. For each subsequent plan you will need to request it again.

There is another type of support coordination, called “specialist support coordination”.  This will be a topic in another post.

At Xavier we are able to provide both plan management and support coordination services. To find out more click through to the Services section.