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March Planning Café: Making awesome service agreements! It Takes Two to Tango...

March Planning Café: Making awesome service agreements!  It Takes Two to Tango...

March’s Planning Café was all about making awesome service agreements. If the NDIS is to reach it's potential and deliver on its promises, people with disability and service providers have to find new ways to authentic partnerships with each other.  People with disability must be in the driver's seat of our own service agreements and we need service providers to come along for the ride to work in partnership with us.
Service providers, people with disability and family members shared their thoughts and ideas on the essential ingredients of service agreements and how best to approach them. It was great to be able to come together in one space, and break down the usual “us and them” approach. Service agreements are all about conversation, negotiation, working together in a genuine partnership and we think we modelled this approach in our Planning Cafes this month.  We also appreciated a representative from the NDIA joining us in Maitland.

Service agreements...the right ingredients

  • Shop around. Check out different services and find out what they have to offer. It’s not all that different from other shopping we do. We test drive cars (and kick the tyres) and ask shop assistants what they have that suits us. We can take the same approach to finding a service that meets our needs. Ask others what services they would and wouldn’t recommend. Get reviews from your peers.
  • Service agreements can include your vision and your passions. That way everyone has a sense of what the paid supports are working towards. Most importantly, the service agreement needs to include a clear and detailed "schedule of supports".
  • Service Agreements will be used by the NDIA to track outcomes so we need to include our goals. Our goals should be based on our vision. Support is the bridge to get from where we are now to achieving the goals and fulfilling our vision.
  •  Get clever in the way you use your paid supports to reach your goals.  Click here for more information about getting creative with paid supports.
  • Service agreements should talk about the kind of relationship you want with your support workers and/or service. What kind of values and qualities are you looking for in those who work with you?
  • Service agreements should be easy to read and be in a format that makes sense to you.  They don’t have to be long and complicated.  Sometimes pictures work best. You could have a video service agreement if you like. Don't sign off on it unless you understand what's in it!
  • They can and should change. They reflect our lives which change often. Flexibility needs to be built in to the agreement.
  • A service agreement needs to be individual. It’s only about you, not about other people who use the service.  Still, we are seeing service agreements that include rubbish about drug paraphernalia, animals, other visitors in your house and nudity!  If these things aren't relevant, they shouldn't be in your service agreement.  These types of "one size fits all" service agreements have no place in 2016!
  • You might want the service agreement to include the role and the natural authority of family.
  • When you’re thinking about what you want to include in your service agreement, ask yourself what are your deal makers and deal breakers (your non-negotiables), when working with service providers and or support workers? Include them in your service agreement.
  • Be specific and detailed about the way you will be supported by the service or support worker:  who, what, when. You should be in control of all these decisions.
  • You might want to include arrangements about training for your support workers.
  • We know things can go wrong and sometimes there can be conflict between a person with disability or family member and the service or worker involved. How will this be handled?

Make sure your service agreement includes:

  • how often the service will claim payments through the NDIS
  • the arrangements for scheduling and cancelling support. At the Planning Cafe, this ranged from immediate requests to 48 hours notice.  What works for you?  What are your responsibilities and what are the service providers or support worker’s responsibilities? How much notice does each of you need to give?
  • what you have to do if you want to leave the service. This is your right under the NDIS. It should be simple for you to stop using the service and you shouldn’t have to give very much notice.  At the Planning Cafe, some people had service agreements enabling them to exit the service immediately, hassle-free.

Some more to think about...

  • Make sure you put in details about transport. At our Planning Café, the NDIA representative told us that we can use funding from other supports in our NDIS plan to cover the cost of transport.  You could include this in your "schedule of supports", for example "the cost of kilometres over and above the transport funding in my plan will be calculated and claimed at the equivalent hours of support each week".  If your service provider needs further information about how you can use your transport funding, tell them to contact the NDIA Engagement Team.
  • Don't forget your Supports Coordinator (or Coordinator of Supports) can help you to developed your schedule of support with each of your service providers.
  • We often hear from people with disability and families that they would like something like Trip Advisor so we can find out what others think of a service we are considering using.  Visit Clickability, a disability service directory that features ratings and reviews from service users. The site is only Victoria-wide at the moment but they hope to spread throughout Australia soon.
  • Go to CareNavigator, which lists over 2,300 NDIS providers Australia-wide, and while you’re there, write a review of your service.
  • Check out the Disability Service Standards. They might give you some ideas about what to include in your service agreement. They cover things like what should happen when you join or leave a service and how to give the service feedback or make a complaint.
  • You can also check out the NDIS information on service agreements, which includes detailed and Easy Read guides.

If you came along, can we also ask you to take 5 minutes of your time to give us some feedback?  We want to keep improving our gatherings so that we can be as useful as possible.  Please click here to help us out.

Get in contact with us if you have any questions, or if you'd like more information!

A video about the NDIS and the importance of peer support. Made by people with intellectual disability for people with intellectual disability.

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