First and foremost, the way your plan is managed will inform which kind of providers you can use. The types of plan management are:
- Agency managed: where the NDIA holds the funding and pays providers through the NDIS portal
- Plan managed: a financial intermediary (like an accountant or bookkeeper) who manages the plan is invoiced by providers
- Self managed: NDIS participants or a nominee receive and pay invoices directly
Once you understand these different management options, you have a way to navigate your choices including what and how NDIS providers will cater to your needs.
We’ve identified some questions below that you can ask when choosing your next provider.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Provider
What is it I want and need?
What kind of support do you want? And how do you want it to be delivered? The more specific you can be, the more specific your request can be when you are speaking to different contractors or NDIS providers to ensure they meet your wants and needs.
Outlining clear expectations will give the provider the opportunity to meet your requests, and give you a clear benchmark to hold them to account. For instance, you could state a clear expectation like:
- I am looking for someone who (insert personality traits here)
- To help me with (insert tasks here)
Refer to your NDIS plan to check what funding items are allocated toward your goals.
Does the Provider you are considering come with great recommendations and reviews?
Do your research! With the wealth of information online now, there is a lot you can learn about a NDIS providers before you get in touch. A great company offering good services will speak for itself in good reviews and testimonies written over time. By thoroughly researching different providers, you’ll be able to get a sense of what features stand out for you.
Do they have the skills I’m looking for?
You want to make sure you’re matched with people who have the right skills for the job. Whether it’s punctuality or friendliness, or the ability to assist in enteral feeding, or other specialised needs - you want to make sure you get the person with the skills to do the job well.
Questions to ask NDIS providers
What are your operating hours and the wait time to get an appointment?
Ask lots of questions to find out the nuts and bolts of how the provider works, what their operating hours are, and the time it takes to get an appointment.
How flexible are you with last-minute changes? And are there fees for changes on bookings?
Find out if there are costs involved with making a change within a week, or several days before a booking, and whether this is even possible. Some NDIS providers will not have the means to provide another worker and will cancel the booking. Ask in detail about fees and charges.
Can you please email me relevant accreditation and a sample service agreement?
Ask to see accreditation and check if the company is actually among NDIS providers. Request a sample of their service agreement. You’ll be able to find out any shortfalls early on this way and check out the NDIS provider’s flexibility and fine print including with last-minute changes to bookings, which could cost you over time.
Do you have staff members with experience in (insert skill here)?
Make sure that the independent company or NDIS providers have experienced staff who have the skills and/or qualifications that are relevant to what you need.
What is the process of giving feedback during the service agreement?
Get a sense of whether there is a dedicated customer service team and whether there is a system in place for feedback and complaints. Ideally there should be a designated team that listen to feedback from clients. Seek warm and friendly providers who can speak your language and be sensitive to what you need. The lengths NDIS providers go to in order to maintain customer satisfaction will be important over time.
Could you give me some information on what emergency care or services you provide?
An important question that might save you in the long run.
Questions to ask yourself both during and after your first few visits with a new provider
Are the service providers professional, on-time, and respectful?
Be honest with yourself in what you see and how you feel, and the professionalism of the people who begin to work with you. Great workers will show initiative, and their companies will be thorough in their compliance and record-keeping.
Are they friendly?
They might look great on paper, but are you happy with the communication you’ve had with the provider? Like any other service in the marketplace, NDIS providers should be seeking to outshine one other by offering outstanding customer service. You have a choice in how you receive care and support. If something doesn’t feel right over time, you can review your choice in provider.
Have the workers been well-matched?
It’s important that NDIS providers offer what was agreed upon. That means supplying workers with the specific skill sets, or qualifications that you require to support your day-to-day life and achieve your goals. But sticking to an agreement is not enough – personality match is important too. Do they ask you about yourself, your likes and dislikes? This is important so the NDIS providers can find you the right personality match for you, someone that you will enjoy spending time with.