Got a letter in today’s mail. On the back it gave the sender as AllCareAbility. Opened it. Covering page thanked me for choosing them to provide NDIS funded supports. Then followed a document with lots of headings about Responsibilities, Pricing, Billing, Cancellations, Termination, Privacy (of course), Complaints and more. They politely asked, “Please return the signed Service Agreement within 14 days.”

I took a deep breath and put it in my To-Do basket – on top of 3 others I received in the past few days from providers I also get services from.

A week later and I had to face what was in the To-Do basket. Tough going. Hard to read. I couldn’t help wondering if any of these providers had actually talked to people with disabilities and families of people with intellectual disability.

Why can’t these Service Agreements be written in ‘plain’ English? Why don’t I just sign as I was asked and get them over and done with? I’ve done that when I want a new app or an update on my iPad. Somehow I thought this is different. I want to know what I am getting.

The Questions

I opened the first Service Agreement thinking I will just read through it all. But in my head came lots of questions as I read:

  • Why was it so big on my Participant Responsibilities and so light on the Provider’s?
  • Why do I have to give so much notice if I need to make a change to a shift or a program? How come the provider lets itself off so lightly?
  • How come this is supposed to be an Agreement but there is no room for me to have input other than just sign?
  • Why doesn’t the provider follow the NDIS instruction to collaborate with me on service agreements?
  • How am I supposed to know the price rate of supports when my Plan just gives a total?
  • What if this provider is going to have extra charges that are not mentioned here?
  • What if the provider doesn’t have support backup arranged for? What am I supposed to do? It doesn’t seem fair.
  • How will I know the staff are qualified and they know my needs?
  • This ‘Agreement’ only refers to meeting the goals in my NDIS Plan. These are so broad they could mean anything – like, “increase relationships to people in communities.” I don’t want to just ‘fill in time’. Shouldn’t we talk about what I want to get out of this?
  • Wouldn’t you think that for all this funding, the provider would give some written review statements, say every 3 months, on how they think they are meeting what I want?
  • I wonder if the provider is expecting my funding to pay them a fee if I change from them? Why should I give them 28 days notice of a change when they have to only give 14 days?
  • My planner told me that my funding for a group activity was to meet Standard Needs with a ratio of 1 staff to 2 participants. How does that work out when I know we have 10 participants to 1 teacher in my literacy class?
  • Why don’t I have the name of a real person to contact if I need to? And while I’m at it, why shouldn’t this ‘Agreement’ say how long I can expect to wait before getting a response?
  • Why does this provider expect me to just give my whole Plan to them when they are not the only provider I have? How does privacy work for this?

I’m exhausted already. I think I’ll have another go tomorrow. Wouldn’t you think there would be some support for people like me to work through these ‘Agreements’? My Planner didn’t mention anything about this. I thought I was supposed to have more ‘control and choice’.

I feel like I’m doing the serving instead of being served.

Brian Donovan

For the Geelong Parent Network.

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Reply to this blog post

Service Agreements – Are you being served? Service Reviews

  1. Dear Brian,

    I read your blog post with great interest! I am sure your frustration/exhaustion is shared by many.
    I work for a service provider, YMCA Victoria, and the area of service agreements is of personal interest to me as I would dearly love for us to have a plain English version, as well as an accessible version of the said document.
    I’ve contacted Scope in the hope that they will be able to assist me and my team in designing an accessible and Service Agreement that is easier understood by all. Many of our participants have an intellectual disability and I fear the language in this document is much too complicated for this population, as it is for many others as well.
    I would be interested to know what others think about this, and get some more tips on how we can make our Service Agreement more user friendly.

    Kind regards,

    Miia Tolvanen
    YMCA Victoria Camping Escapes