This article, written by Mahala Wallace, first appeared on First2Care, Australia’s first full NDIS Plan Management App developed for participants, workers and providers. To find out more, click here or check them out on Facebook.
Whether you’re new to the NDIS or already have a plan in place, employing service providers is a key element in effectively implementing your NDIS Plan. If you are Self-Managed or with Plan Management, you will have access to both registered and non-registered service providers who can offer the support and services you require to live your life and meet your NDIS-listed goals.
As an NDIS Participant, you have the option to formalise the services, expectations and commitment of the service provider through the use of a service agreement. Although service agreements are not compulsory, they can provide NDIS Participants with more choice and control.
What is a service agreement and why is it important?
For some, the idea of outlining a service agreement can be a little daunting. But a great way to think of a service agreement is as a tool to make sure you and your service provider are always on the same page. With your service provider, you can create a written document setting out what supports they will provide and how they will be delivered. Service agreements don’t need to be complicated; in fact it’s better to keep it simple.
What should you expect in a service agreement ?
Creating and implementing a service agreement is between you and your service provider. The service agreement is tailored to your personal needs, and there are no rules as to what you can include. However, to prevent any miscommunication, there are some key details you should consider when creating a service agreement.
What to include in your service agreement:
Your name and contact details
Your provider’s name and contact details
The start and end date of your service needs, within your current NDIS Plan
What supports and services the provider agrees to provide
How, when and where you would like your supports and services to be provided
The cost of the supports and services
How you and your provider will handle any problems or issues that may arise
The provider’s cancellation policy
How you or your provider may change or end the service agreement
When your service agreement will be reviewed
It is possible your provider may have their own standard service agreement already in place. If this is the case, take the time to read it carefully and if there are any of the above check list items missing or further adjustments you feel are important, you can discuss this with your prospective service provider. When you have drafted, and reviewed your service agreement, both you and your service provider can sign the document to make it binding.
How you can stay in control
Your service agreement will signify the support and services you will receive from your service provider in helping you achieve your NDIS goals. It’s very important for you to feel a sense of control in the creation of your service agreement. This is especially vital if the service provider will be assisting your NDIS journey in an ongoing manner. Whether you’re creating a service agreement from, or your service provider has a standard service agreement that they generally use, think about making notes on what you would like to be included in the service agreement before meeting with your prospective service provider. In the meeting, have an open and honest discussion with your service provider regarding what your needs and wants are. It’s best to have this discussion before you engage their services as you seek to exert your right of choice and control by ensuring you have covered all bases within the proposed service agreement. Remember, you can always bring a family member, friend or another person to the meeting for additional support.
You have a service agreement. What’s next?
When you and your service provider are happy with the service agreement and have both signed the document, make sure to keep a copy for your records. This can be a digital or hardcopy, depending on your preferences. If you are Plan Managed by First2Care, it’s a good idea to send through a copy of your service agreement to us. Having a copy of this document on hand can help us continue to manage your NDIS funds by tracking your spending and ensuring your funds are being used effectively. It will also help our team keep up to date with your current agreed services.
Over to you
Setting up a service agreement with your service providers is a great tool to help you make the most out of your NDIS Plan. Have you had an experience in creating a service agreement? We would love to hear about it. Let us know in the comments below.
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