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

Knowing the difference between Plan Managers and Support Coordinators, and what to expect from their services, can be instrumental in managing your NDIS plan successfully. Plan Managers and Support Coordinators offer assistance to NDIS Participants, and when used effectively, these services can provide expert advice, guidance and support to help you live your life as independently as possible. At First2Care, we aim to work closely with your Support Coordinator to ensure you can make the most of your NDIS funding and have more time to enjoy life.

What’s the difference between a Plan Manager and a Support Coordinator

The key difference between Plan Managers and Support Coordinators is: A Plan Manager can help with the financial side of your plan, while a Support Coordinator can help manage your supports and providers.

Plan Managers

Plan Management is one of the four options you can use to help manage your NDIS funding. The other options are: self, agency or a combination. It’s important to research all your options to make sure you choose the one that is right for you.

Plan Managers act as your personal NDIS accountant. With a Plan Manager, you’ll have the flexibility of self-managing your plan, without the stress of paying the bills and managing the budgets. Plan Management is available for all NDIS Participants with no out of pocket costs. The service is fully-funded by the NDIS, and can be accessed by requesting to include a Plan Manager in your plan.

A Plan Manager will:

  • Give access to NDIS-registered and non-registered service providers

  • Help you choose the right support provider(s) for your needs (if requested)

  • Receive invoices and pay your providers for their services

  • Track your supports and funding budgets

  • Claim funds through the NDIS portal

  • Adhere to the NDIS Price Guide

  • Manage financial reporting for your NDIS plan review and audits

  • Be your expert in NDIS funding matters

There are several Plan Management options available for NDIS Participants. At First2Care, we want you to focus on the things you love, and achieve your personal goals. Which is why our team of experienced bookkeepers and professional advisers offer a personally tailored service to ensure your plan is working for you, and not the other way around.

Support Coordinators

While a Plan Manager can provide access to both NDIS registered and non-registered service providers, and help you choose the right provider for you, it is the role of a Support Coordinator to manage the supports and providers you hire. Whether you’re plan-managed, self-managed, NDIA-managed or a combination, you can access a Support Coordinator if it is deemed ‘reasonable and necessary’ by the NDIS.

Support Coordination has three levels of support – Support Coordination, Support Connection and Specialist Support Coordination.

Support Coordination functions within the NDIS as a Capacity Building Support to help you implement all other supports needed. Initially, Support Coordination will operate a few hours per week to help you set up your supports. Once those supports and Service Agreements are in place, your Support Coordinator will continue to touch base to ensure you’re happy with the supports or if any adjustments need to be made.

A Support Coordinator will:

  • Help choose supports and providers

  • Arrange assessments

  • Talk with your Plan Manager to allocate funding

  • Connect with mainstream and community services

  • Manage Service Agreements, including changing or ending an agreement

  • Assist in preparing for your plan renewal and/or plan review

Support Connection is typically a few hours per month, which decreases over time as you connect with your community and funded supports. The purpose of Support Connection is focused on helping you understand your plan and to build the skills needed to implement and manage your NDIS plan.

Specialist Support Coordination operates much the same as Support Connection. The communication for both is typically a few hours per month, decreasing over time, and offers assistance in preparing for your plan renewal. This type of Support Coordination provides a specialised level of support for more complex situations. It’s used for people who might require multiple government agencies or services to actively achieve their plan and personal goals.

How they can work for you

To include a Plan Manager or Support Coordinator (or both) in your NDIS plan, you can request these services at your planning meeting. Both your Plan Manager and Support Coordinator can liaise with each other regarding your supports and providers when needed.

Questions to consider when choosing a Plan Manager or Support Coordinator:

  • Is your plan manager truly independent and have your best interest at heart or do they offer other services that they seek to direct you to also use?

  • How often does your Plan Manager communicate with you to ensure you are on track with your plan?

  • Do they have experience in the disability sector as well as financial services?

  • Will their services assist you to manage your fund more effectively?

  • How well do they understand the ins and outs of the NDIS as it relates to you?

  • Are they focused on helping you achieve your goals of today and your goals you have yet to dream of?

  • Do they have a good personal rapport with you or is it a different person every time?

Read more about the benefits of working with a Plan Manager. Alternatively, register today on our FREE NDIS Plan Management platform, so we can start helping you best manage your plan today.

Read more about First2Care’s plan management features.

Over to you

Plan Managers and Support Coordinators can provide crucial services for the successful management of your plan. We’d love to know your experience managing your plan with a Plan Manager and Support Coordinator. Let us know in the comments below.

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