New NDIS Price Guide: What It Means For Providers

The NDIA has delivered some welcome news to providers following an Independent Pricing Review (IPR) – 10 of which will come into effect from 1 July 2018.

There’s no doubt that yesterday’s news announcing the NDIA’s acceptance of the IPR’s pricing recommendations demonstrates its willingness to take ‘bigger’ steps in the right direction. With capped hourly rates and tight worker-participant ratios making things difficult, many provider services have struggled to survive, let alone prosper. With some key funding increases to come into effect almost immediately (and in much needed areas) many providers will be a little happier leading into the new financial year.

However, there is a strong argument that the NDIS pricing model should take into account deeper considerations. The argument around ‘what hourly rate is adequate to operate a service’ must go beyond simple operational viability and include a broader perspective around the other challenges facing providers. The immediate challenges (and required supports) for disability service providers will generally depend on which of two groups they fit in:

  1. New businesses trying to establish their services. Like any new business, half the battle is getting the service off the ground, let alone building efficient internal processes, employing staff  and ultimately being able to compete effectively. Conservative profits can make it particularly hard for these services to survive long-term as they build their client bases.
  2. Established, larger non-government organisations trying to transition from existing ‘block funding models’ to the new world of participant-managed funding. Many organisations have simply had to close down with no clear way to survive once the money runs out. Those who are pushing through are having to diversify their services, invest heavily in marketing to reposition themselves and look for ways to build internal capacity.

While the 2018/19 NDIS Price Guide has taken into account operational margins, there’s been little provision to support services across both groups and help them manage these challenges. And, as the NDIS market grows with ever-increasing numbers of participants and service providers, the Federal Government continues to juggle the Scheme’s affordability while trying to build a long-term, self-sustaining marketplace for the future – and this has proven much more difficult, particularly given the fast pace of the rollout.

While there are no immediate solutions, the Government’s ‘guarantee’ of the Scheme means the only way to move is forward and the Scheme, its participants and providers will need to find a way through.

Below are the 10 changes to come into effect from 1 July, 2018.

Regional Travel

The Independent Pricing Review (IPR) highlighted the difficulty that participants (who do not live in a metropolitan area, but are not considered remote) may have with accessing supports.

  • Providers will now be able to charge up to 45 minutes of travel time in rural areas with more specific arrangements for remote areas to be implemented in the not too distant future.

Group Supports

The IPR highlighted the inconsistency between charges for high intensity or complex requirements for group based supports in a centre compared to other core supports.

  • New price limits will be introduced for both standard and high intensity community-based group supports, to allow for support ratios of 1:4 and 1:5 (i.e. worker:participant ratio).
  • A capital allowance will be included in the price limits for centre-based group care.

Short Term Accommodation

The IPR report recommended the NDIA address the update made to price limits for STA to ensure they reflect the costs of delivering the service.

  • A new price limit will be added for STA to allow for a 1:3 support worker to participant ratio.

Temporary Support Overhead

The IPR recognised the time and effort it takes for providers to establish efficient systems and processes to support the roll out of the NDIS.

  • 2.5 per cent loading will be added to standard intensity attendant care supports, helping to support providers transition their business to the NDIS funding model.

Cancellation policy for core supports

The IPR highlighted the inefficiencies that last minute cancellations cause for providers.

  • Providers will now be able to charge 90 per cent of the service booking price for short notice cancellations, up to a maximum of 12 cancellations per year for core supports and 6 hours per year for therapy.

Group supports (community based) / Group supports (centre based)

The IPR report suggested the current price limits for group supports did not allow for sufficient flexibility in group care arrangements.

  • New  price options to support 1:4 and 1:5 support worker to participant ratios for both standard and high intensity rates will be added to the 2018/19 NDIA Price Guide.

Therapy assistant (level 1)

The IPR suggested an increase to the price limit and the inclusion of a second tier of the therapy assistant rate would result in improved participant outcomes. 

  • The hourly rate for therapy assistants (Level 1) will be increased to align with the rate for a standard level support worker.

Therapy travel

The IPR report found that participants living in regional areas may find it difficult to access therapy supports.

  • The NDIA will now remove the $1,000 cap for therapist travel.
  • Therapists can now claim for travel up to 45 minutes when visiting participants in regional areas, and up to 20 minutes for all other areas.

Cancellation policy for therapy

The IPR highlighted the inefficiencies that last minute cancellations cause for therapists.

  • Therapists will now have the option to charge 90 per cent of the service fee for a participant who cancels an appointment at short notice.

Reports requested by NDIA

The IPR report acknowledged the out of pocket time and resources for providers when supplying reports that are requested by NDIA.

  • To acknowledge this providers will now be able to claim for:
    • Reports requested at the commencement of a plan which identify goals and objectives
    • Reports requested at plan review to measure progress against those goals
    • Any other report as stipulated within participant plans.

 

For the full 2018/2019 Price Guide – click here

Amergin Director Presenting at 2018 National Mental Health Forum

We’re very excited to be attending this week’s National Mental Health Forum in Sydney with Amergin’s very own, Christine Dempsey delivering her presentation on ‘Developing strategies to remain sustainable under the NDIS’.

Christine is one of Australia’s foremost experts on the Australian disability services sector, primarily the NDIS. Christine will be providing key strategies to help CEOs, Directors and other Executives transition to the Scheme effectively and sustainably.

You can register to attend here.

New Aged Care Expert Joins Amergin

As Amergin continues its mission to meet the growing demand for support services from organisations across the community sector, we are making sure that those who join our Team not only bring the relevant expertise, but also the right approach – this means the positive culture we create in Amergin will directly benefit clients.

Our newest Team Member, Aynsley Johnson is no exception. Aynsley joins us as Senior Consultant, leading our Aged Care services among other roles.

Aynsley has worked within the government, not-for-profit and private community care industry for over 12 years. Over the past 6 years, she has specialised in her area of interest – Aged Care, working directly with clients on Home Care Packages, Community Home Support Program funding and Team Leadership/Management of Aged Care Programs.

With a passion for helping people and a strong sense of social justice, Aynsley commits to supporting Amergin clients to achieve the best outcomes for their business and in turn the best care for aged care consumers. Given the recent 2018 Budget Announcement committing 1.6b over the next 4 years to in-home care services, we expect Aynsley will be very busy helping providers with registration, compliance and advice.

2018 Federal Budget: What it means for Aged Care and NDIS Providers

As the Australian public continue to digest the impact from the Federal Government’s 2018 Budget Announcement, the overall implications for the disability sector (National Disability Insurance Scheme or NDIS) and aged care sector appear to be quite positive – for providers and participants alike. We’ve tried to cover some key areas that service providers should be aware of.


Aged Care

The Aged Care sector, in particular, will receive a huge financial boost to manage Australia’s ageing population and ever-increasing demand for in-home care services. There is still scepticism as to whether this commitment is only scratching the surface when thinking about the real demands on the sector in the future.

Increased demand for in-home care services

The budget provides $1.6 billion over four years for 14,000 people to stay in their homes rather than nursing homes. The funding boost means close to 74,000 people will be able to access home care packages by mid-2022.

Increased demand for mental health services

For those who are in a nursing home, the Government is promising $83 million to address the drastic shortage of mental health services in residential aged care facilities.

Improving the quality of providers and standard of care they deliver

  • The Government will establish an independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission in January 2019, bringing together the functions of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner. This measure is aimed at holding providers more accountable and empowering Australians who use their services.
  • Just over $250m has been allocated to helping to safeguard rights and protect people from abuse.
  • $50m has been allocated to help providers meet new standards.

Access to services by Australia’s Indigenous people

A commitment of over $105m to improve access to aged care facilities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities.


NDIS

The main piece of positive news for the NDIS was more related to the Federal Government’s funding commitment and provides real confidence for disability advocates. It is however still hard to ignore the long-term challenge facing the Scheme where Government services and supports are struggling to keep up due to the fast pace of its rollout. 

Guaranteed funding

In the weeks leading up to the 2018 Budget Announcement, there was significant concern from disability advocates that the scrapping of proposed 0.5 per cent Medicare levy rise to fully fund the NDIS – from last year’s federal budget – was now no longer necessary due to an improved fiscal position. They can now breathe a sigh of relief with Treasurer Scott Morrison announcing in his federal budget speech that the NDIS would be fully funded now and into the future -the NDIS is on track to be fully rolled out by 2020, with 140,000 Aussies now accessing the scheme.

Support services for NDIS Providers

As the NDIS readies itself to transition to a national regulatory framework (NDIS Quality and Safeguards Framework) from 1 July 2018, there were no signs in the Federal Budget of efforts to increase support services and for both providers (and participants). The ever-growing frustration when people call the NDIS’s 1800 number in addition to the lack of communication (particularly through the www.ndis.gov.au website) is frustrating at best.

Increasing the NDIS workforce

An extra $92.1 million will support people who aren’t yet eligible but are transitioning towards the NDIS, and a jobs fund will be launched with an additional $64m to add more NDIS support workers.

 

What are your thoughts on the 2018 Federal Budget for service providers?

The New National NDIS Quality and Safeguards

At the NDIS Provider Forum in Adelaide this week, we heard a lot of detail around  the National Quality and Safeguards Framework that will be coming in to effect from 1 July 2018.

Here are 8 things providers need to know:

  1. The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (or the Commission) will oversee the implementation of a new quality assurance scheme, to include the new Practice Standards, only for States that have completely rolled out – South Australia and New South Wales will be the first to transition.
  2. Both the new provider ‘registration’ and registered provider ‘transition’ processes under the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Framework are now known.  However, the Practice Standards are still being finalised and expected to be released in April 2018.
  3. Existing providers registration will continue to be recognised and the Commission will initiate renewals against the new standards progressively.
  4. The NDIS Practice Standards will address:
    • Rights and Responsibilities
    • Governance and Operational Management
    • Provision of Supports
    • Support Provision Environment
  5. The providers will have to undergo ‘verification’ and/or certification’, depending on the type of services they’re intending to deliver. The Commission will be responsible for approving all registrations.
  6. A Provisional Licence will be granted for providers applying for, or, adding additional registration groups.
  7. Registration will consist of annual surveillance and 3 yearly recertification. Auditors will make recommendations to the Commission of compliance and for a provisional licence.
  8. Organisations will need to select from a list of recommended auditors will be provided by the Commission. Auditors will be expected to ‘work with and help empower’ providers. The audits themselves will be proportional to the organisations size and service footprint.

 

Amergin is the trusted name to help your business register for the NDIS.
We partner with you from start-to-finish, providing ongoing education, support and advice. Our experienced Team will develop high-quality, tailored documentation – including policies and procedures and self-assessments – so your organisations will comply with the new Practice Standards upon release. We can even help you prepare for audit!

Click here for complete NDIS registration support

Already registered?
While organisations already registered will roll in to the new Framework form the NDIA, the Commission will be contacting organisations to take them through new compliance expectation. For registered providers, Amerginhub is your ongoing compliance resource portal with industry / government updates, useful resources and tools and much more! We can also develop website and deliver tailored NDIS organisation preparedness workshops for your business.

Important Updates For Aged Care Providers

Aged Care Quality and Safeguarding: Toward a New, Single Aged Care Quality Framework

The Australian Government Department of Health is attempting to cut through the Aged Care compliance red tape with the introduction of a single quality framework, due to take effect from 1 July 2018.

As many Aged Care providers are well aware, the Aged Care system is highly regulated, particularly if you are delivering multiple Aged Care service types. To simplify regulatory requirements, the Australian Government will release a Single Aged Care Quality Framework that comprises a single set of aged care standards for all aged care services. The Framework will include a streamlined approach to assessing provider performance against the standards, as well as improved information on quality to help clients make choices about the care and services they need.

New Standards

The new Standards will replace:

  • Accreditation Standards;
  • Home Care Standards;
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program Quality Framework Standards; and
  • Transition Care Standards.

The standards are currently being finalised, however, the draft standards are:

  1. Consumer dignity, autonomy and choice;
  2. Ongoing assessment and planning with consumers;
  3. Delivering personal care and/or clinical care;
  4. Delivering lifestyle services and supports;
  5. Service environment;
  6. Feedback and complaints;
  7. Human resources; and
  8. Organisational governance.

They will apply to all aged care services including residential care, home care and flexible care, with flexibility around how they are applied to different services.

Preparation and Support

The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency is working with the aged care industry, consumers and other key stakeholders to develop guidelines and supporting material for the draft. Amergin can help you get registered and maintain ongoing compliance.

Want to be kept up to date with everything Aged Care? Join amerginhub

Amergin To Present At The National Mental Health Forum 2018!

Amergin Director, Christine Dempsey has been asked to present at the 2nd National Mental Health Forum in Sydney, June 2018.

As a strong advocate for mental health support services, Christine is excited at the opportunity to provide both strategic and practical advice to Senior Executives from Public and Private Health Organisations as well as Not-For-Profits and Government Agencies from around Australia.

This year’s Conference is themed ‘developing practical strategies to improve service delivery and consumer outcomes’.

Christine’s presentation will focus around helping mental health providers transition to the NDIS and providing practical advise to support them.

Choosing a Consultant – 5 Things to Expect (and Demand)

Choosing a Consultant - 5 Things to Expect (And Demand)

The word ‘consultant’ elicits images of a well-dressed, officious, impersonal business person licking their lips at the prospect of charging exorbitant hourly rates to those who come knocking. Is this really the case with consultants in 2017 or just a perception spilling over from the 90’s / 00’s when consultants were a dime a dozen, making choosing a consultant even more difficult?

Thanks to the advancements in communication (including social media and portable technology) immoral and unscrupulous businesses can’t get away with what they used to — particularly in the community sector where it’s all about people and relationships.

Remember, consultants are people coming into your business from the outside with a specific expertise to help you achieve your goals. So, it’s not just about whether they will deliver on their promises, it’s also about making sure they are the right fit so you can work effectively with them.

Nevertheless, it’s essential to do your homework so you get what you need from a consultancy relationship to ensure you maximise value, service and desired outcome.

Detailed below is what you should expect (and demand) when you engage any consultant to support you and your business.

Choosing a Consultant

Chemistry

Consulting in the community sector is all about people just as it is for the service providers who provide direct support to people across Australia. As with any relationship, it’s important to find a good match and work with an organisation who understands you, your business and what you’re trying to achieve.

Trust

We’ve heard some horror stories from clients who have experienced negative, costly support from consultants and ended up receiving poor service with a less than ideal outcome. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Ask them how long have they been operating for?
  • Ask yourself whether they understand your needs?
  • Ask to speak with some clients. Did they have a good experience / outcome?
  • Check the fine print in the contract. Do you have any built-in assurances?
  • Will they be accountable?

Communication

One of the most important factors that will shape a successful consultant outcome is structured communication. Having an ongoing dialogue ensures that expectations are clear and timelines are met. Working in partnership will always get you a better outcome than someone just ‘developing documentation’.

Price

Every business offers different pricing, services and value. Do your research and make sure you’re not comparing apples with oranges. Value is often built into your experience and process that will support your best outcome. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

Confidence

Check their credentials, website and history – make sure everything checks out, be comfortable with what they stand for and that you are inspired with confidence.

If you’ve gone through this process and you’ve ticked the boxes, you can move forward with some level of confidence. Remember, it’s your business and it’s up to you to look after it.

Australian Aged Care System – The Silent Opportunity

Aged Care Provider | A Silent Opportunity

Becoming a Provider under the Australian Aged Care System

Like most things in Australia’s political sphere, the media’s focus is generally directed toward those issues, initiatives, and people that offer a controversial or contentious story for the next day’s headlines.

The NDIS has certainly provided such a platform, which has seen sustained media coverage, from its inception through to now where the Scheme’s rollout is well underway across the country.

There is no doubt that the NDIS will be a great system for Australians with a permanent or severe disability. It replaces an archaic, unfair and fragmented disability system that left Australians with disability little, with regard to choice and control, to improve their quality of life.

It must be said however that the ongoing teething issues emerging as the Scheme rolls out are proving to be problematic for both participants and disability service providers respectively. These issues range from poor communication to pricing to poorly constructed participant plans.

Aged Care Provider Opportunity

However, as the relevant Government agencies look to knock these issues into place and drive the Scheme forward, there is another Scheme that is quietly experiencing its own evolution – the Australian Aged Care system.

Like the NDIS, Aged Care Home Care has shifted toward a person centred, or ‘consumer-directed care’ model – meaning people over 65 will get more choice and flexibility as to how they choose and receive these services.

These reforms began in 2012 and are part of a 3-phased process that will stretch out over 10 years. Like the NDIS, the transformation of the Aged Care sector is presenting a huge opportunity for businesses looking to deliver aged care services like Home Care. With Australia’s ageing population, the demand for these services is steadily increasing – a plus for providers looking to deliver quality, innovative services to Australians over 65.

If you would like to find out more about becoming an Aged Care Provider, download our free information guide and learn how we can assist in navigating the process.

Free Guide Download:
How to become an approved Aged Care Provider.

Becoming an Approved Aged Care Provider can be a time-consuming and complex process. Get your free guide today!

Click Here to get your copy

Marketing in the Disability & Aged Care Sectors

NGO Transitioning to the NDIS - Differentiate Your Services

The changing landscape of the Community Sector is being driven by mass reforms within the aged care and disability services sectors. This rapid evolution is forcing non-government organisations to rethink their position within the market to ensure a competitive advantage.

Why this is important in the Disability & Aged Care Sectors

One of the major necessities of successful marketing is having a comprehensive understanding of the environment in which you operate. This is of significant importance in the disability and aged care sectors as more and more businesses enter the market in order to capitalise on more open markets created by person-centred and consumer directed service delivery.

Most organisations have, at the very least, the standard marketing tools and functions in place – a website, an occasional newsletter to clients and maybe one or two social media accounts. Although this is a very good starting point, without understanding the market in which you are operating, efforts to increase engagement are often misguided and end up falling flat.

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Do you understand what makes your organisation different to your major competitors?
  2. Are you finding it increasingly difficult to compete against new competitors?
  3. Do you have a plan or strategy in place to attract customers and drive growth?

Without an understanding of the impact these things can have on your broader marketing efforts, your organisation will find it increasingly difficult to thrive. So, where does this leave you?

Time to take action

Whether you’re just entering the market or are an established organisation, there’s no better time than now to undertake an audit of your current positioning. This will help you and your team to identify any areas that may require improvements or discover opportunities that you may be missing out on. Either way, having a better understanding of where you sit within the competitive landscape will provide valuable insight into what steps you need to take to position yourself for success and drive financial growth.

Start with your brand

How you communicate, what you communicate, when you communicate, what your values are and the emotional reaction you want your customers to feel when engaging with your business are all crucial parts that make up your brand. Unfortunately, these defining elements can be afterthoughts, or more often than not, neglected altogether. By reviewing your current brand and asking yourself a few simple questions about where it currently stands, you are well on your way to establishing yourself as a serious competitor in the disability and aged care sectors.

To help you get started, we’ve developed a comprehensive guide to help you through this process and give you a valuable resource to share with and include your staff and stakeholders. Our free Position Your Brand for Success Guide provides comprehensive insight about where to start and what to think about to distinguish your business and drive financial growth in the Community Sector.

Free Guide Download:
Position your brand for success.

Where to start and what to think about to distinguish your business and drive financial growth in the Community Sector.

Click Here to get your copy