Tips for Plan Managed Participants
There's not a single thing about NDIS that is simple. It's a complex scheme and there are a lot of different aspects and a lot of things that participants or their nominee/representative need to be aware of.
Here are my tips for plan managed participants:
Communicate with your plan manager. Keep them informed on what's going on and if any changes occur. If you have a support coordinator, put them in touch with your plan manager and advise them what information you consent to be shared between the two of them. Often it can be helpful to allow your plan manager to provide your support coordinator with budget reports or access to view funding availability - but only if you're comfortable with that.
If you receive a schedule of supports or sign a service agreement with a provider for a certain amount of funding, provide the schedule or agreement to your plan manager. This will enable us to "quarantine" the funds in our system so that we can adequately determine how much is remaining to be spent and what has been allocated to services that are expected to be provided in the future.
Be aware of how much funds remain in your plan. The last thing that you want to do is overspend or run out of funding mid-plan. There is a belief amongst some that if you run out of funding the NDIS will simply allocate more but unfortunately this is not the case, if funds run out before the end of the plan you may be left without supports until you're due for a plan review.
Create a budget. This is something a support coordinator or plan manager is able to assist with. It's strongly recommended that you create a budget that details which supports are required and how much funding you wish to allocate to each of them, this helps to prevent overspending and ensures that there is enough funding for the required supports.
Know your options and negotiate price. Often there are multiple providers available that may provide the same or similar service at a different cost. Weigh up your options to decide which you believe is best for you and try to negotiate a price that you're happy with.
Avoid providing a full copy of your plan to providers. Often a provider will ask for a copy of your plan, but there's no requirement for you to provide the funding section to them. The relevant section that they may need will be your goals. Most providers out there are trustworthy and do the right thing, but you may come across the odd provider who will see the amount of funds that are available and try to take as much of that funding as possible, even when not necessary. Providers will want to check that you have enough funding in your plan to honour the agreement you sign with them - this can be confirmed by you or your plan manager - but it's strongly advised to keep the total funded amount to yourself.
Know how to acknowledge when something isn't right with a provider. If you feel like a provider isn't doing right by you, you have external options that may be able to assist you too. One of those being the NDIS Quality and Safeguard Commission, and in some cases a disability advocate or even Fair Work Australia may be helpful.
Finally - know what resources are at your disposal. Your plan manager is a good source of information for things that you may not know or understand. Even if we as plan managers can't help you directly, we can often point you in the direction of the person who can and we're always happy to help. Other resources that you may have are support coordinators, your LAC, relationships you have with providers or others in the community, or even local disability advocates. Don't be afraid to use these resources, we're all here to help.