Have you thought about having an independent review, or mini audit, of participant files to verify the implementation of your systems against the NDIS Practice Standards?
EFA have extensive experience in conducting NDIS audits, which includes sampling participant files, interviewing participants and their support networks.
Benefits of an independent review of participant files includes:
Experienced independent person who can view files in an impartial way, and confirm consistency with your systems, the NDIS Practice Standards, and check for any anomalies which staff who are familiar with your participants may overlook.
Helps confirm whether your participant file management processes are effectively implemented, or whether improvement is required.
Could assist in identifying potential risks. For example, inconsistencies with files, missing key information which may appear ‘obvious’ to staff who know participants well.
Counts towards your ‘internal audit’ evidence.
A full internal audit or preparatory audit can also be conducted if required, but often, a mini audit such as this might be helpful to confirm things are working well, or in need of improvement.
If you would like to know more on how we can help you with participant file reviews or audits, please contact us on 0478 616 207 or email@example.com for a complimentary consultation.
Revised High Intensity Support Skills Descriptor Frequently Asked Questions
The NDIS Commission recently updated the high intensity support skills descriptors (HISSD) which came into effect from 1 February 2023. These updates were made to align the descriptors with contemporary practice, expert advice, and a participant-focused approach.
High Intensity Supports are complex supports required by NDIS participants in order to manage their daily lives.
The high intensity support skills descriptors (skills descriptors) serve as supplementary guidance for NDIS providers and workers who support participants with high intensity daily personal activities (HIDPA). They outline the specific skills and knowledge that NDIS providers should ensure their workers possess when delivering supports to participants who rely on HIDPA.
In June 2023, the NDIS Commission released Frequently Asked Questions to guide NDIS providers in the implementation of the skills descriptors.
It is important for registered NDIS providers, particularly those registered for Module 1 HIDPA, to familiarise themselves with the revised skills descriptors and understand the compliance requirements. Some key points for providers to consider include:
Registered NDIS providers must ensure that their workers meet the expectations outlined in the relevant skills descriptors.
NDIS providers should conduct annual reviews to ensure that their workers possess the current skills and knowledge described in the skills descriptors.
If a worker has not delivered support for a period exceeding three months or if a participant’s support needs have changed, it is recommended that the worker be reassessed and, if necessary, undergo refresher training.
To assist NDIS providers in assessing their workers’ skills and knowledge against the skills descriptors, EFA has developed a High Intensity Support Skills Descriptors Staff Audit. This audit provides a self-assessment checklist for each skill and knowledge area required for the respective individual descriptors. The completion of this audit should help identify areas where workers may require further training to ensure compliance with the NDIS requirements.
If you are interested in purchasing this staff audit or have any questions regarding your obligations in relation to high intensity skills descriptors please contact us on 0478 616 207 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary consultation.
What do NDIS providers need to know about Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to significantly impact the disability sector by improving accessibility, enhancing assistive technologies, and promoting inclusivity.
NDIS providers need to be knowledgeable about how AI is being used in their organisation and how it could impact the ways they deliver services in the future.
AI technologies offer significant benefits to the disability sector. They can boost workplace effectiveness and efficiency, enabling NDIS providers to deliver better services to their clients. AI-powered assistive technologies have the capacity to enhance accessibility, empowering individuals with disabilities to overcome barriers and participate more fully in society.
Although AI technologies can be valuable in the workplace, responsible and ethical use of AI must be prioritised, in accordance with government approaches and organisational policies.
Presently in Australia, the Commonwealth Government and the NDIS Commission have released Artificial Intelligence (AI) Guiding Principles that provide a framework for the responsible and ethical use of AI, ensuring that AI systems prioritise human wellbeing, fairness, transparency, and accountability while promoting positive outcomes for individuals and society as a whole.
NDIS providers need to proactively consider the ethical framework within which they will employ AI in their organisation. This framework should align with the organisation’s values, respect privacy, promote fairness, avoid bias, and comply with legal and regulatory requirements.
Your policies and procedures should be updated to include risk management considerations associated with AI technologies to minimise negative outcomes and ensure responsible AI use. They also need to ensure they are complying with relevant legislation including data protection, intellectual property, and privacy requirements.
NDIS providers should also provide guidance and training to their staff on responsible AI usage. It is crucial that employees understand their obligations and the potential risks associated with AI.
If you have any questions on how to properly ensure you have addressed AI in your documentation we can help. Please contact us on 0478 616 207 or email@example.com for a complimentary consultation.
The NDIS Commission have recently announced the first use of a new regulatory tool against an NDIS provider called an Enforceable Action. An Enforceable Action is a legally binding agreement between the Commission and the provider that outlines specific actions the provider commits to undertake to rectify issues of non-compliance with the law.
This approach is seen as an alternative to heavier compliance actions, such as court proceedings or banning orders and can be used in circumstances when providers are committed and willing to work with the Commission to address compliance issues and ensure the ongoing delivery of safe and quality services for NDIS participants.
The use of the Enforceable Action as a regulatory tool showcases a collaborative and preventative approach to addressing non-compliance issues, while also encouraging providers to proactively address and rectify such issues themselves.
We encourage all NDIS providers to have an understanding of the NDIS Commission’s Regulatory Approach targeted at ensuring the quality and safety of services delivered to NDIS participants.
We are the go-to consultant NDIS providers approach when they are experiencing compliance issues, and also for providers who wish to be proactive in this space. We are proud of our integrity and technical expertise. You can trust us to be your compliance partner. If you are in need of support in the areas of quality management or compliance please contact us on 0478 616 207 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary confidential consultation.
Dangers of purchasing ‘off the shelf’ NDIS policies and procedures
It is essential for NDIS providers to have quality policies and procedures in place to ensure you are meeting the NDIS quality requirements.
Whether you’re starting out and need policies and procedures or want to improve your system documentation purchasing ‘pre-prepared’ documents can be a convenient starting point, however there are potential pitfalls to be aware of.
For example, standardised off-the-shelf products may not always align perfectly with your business, and if they include processes and forms you do not implement, this can lead to staff not using your system and audit non-conformances.
Good system documentation should follow your business processes and reflect the supports provide. You should be CONFIDENT in using your system, update documents as your processes change, and staff should use these as a first port of call if they have questions (rather than asking the manager or quality and safeguarding staff).
Your documentation should evolve as your processes change, ensuring it remains an accurate reflection of your operations and your staff should feel confident using the system documentation as a resource.
The goal should always be continuous improvement. Regularly reviewing and updating your documentation and processes is crucial to staying compliant and efficient.
A good consultant will work with you to make sure the system is truly yours as well as being compliant with the quality requirements set by the NDIS Commission.
At EFA we provides options to produce tailored documentation including policies and procedures, participant handbooks, internal audit plans and easy read English documents. We can also assist with self assessments/internal audits and work with you on system improvements. If you would like to speak to us on how we can assist you in these areas, please contact us on 0478 616 207 or email@example.com for a complimentary consultation.
Do you know what the process is for renewing your NDIS registration?
As a Registered NDIS Provider, you are required to renew your registration every 3 years.
Existing registered providers can begin the registration renewal process with the NDIS Commission within 6 months of the renewal date listed on your Certificate of Registration. To ensure that you remain a registered NDIS Provider you must apply to renew your registration and undertake another audit before the expiry date.
When your NDIS registration is due to expire, the NDIS Commission will send you a reminder email roughly 6 months before expiry with instructions on how to complete your renewal application in the portal.
Your previous Approved Quality Auditor should also contact you prior to your registration renewal to outline the process.
You will be required to complete a renewal application in the NDIS portal which is very similar to your initial registration application and includes providing organisation and registration group information. You will also need to provide a self-assessment against the NDIS Practice Standards relevant to the supports and services your organisation delivers and upload any documents required as evidence.
TIP: It is a good time to review your current scope of services provided and assess whether you would like to add or remove any registration groups as this will impact your audit scope.
Once your renewal application is submitted you will be provided with a new Initial Scope of Audit document that summarises your registration and audit requirements. This will determine if you need to undertake a Re-certification or Re-verification audit to renew your registration.
As with your initial registration, you should use your initial scope of audit document to procure quotes from approved quality auditors.
Preparing for Audit
TIP: In preparation for the audit you should check if you have a robust internal audit program in place that ensures your documentation is up to date and has incorporated all the amendments to the NDIS practice standards in November 2021 including the three new practice standards: Mealtime Management, Severe Dysphagia Management, and Emergency and Disaster Management.
TIP: If you have any non conformities from your previous audit, it is also important to make sure you have effectively implemented corrective actions to address these. If previous non conformities are not able to be closed out, there is the potential for these to become major non conformities. When this occurs an additional follow up audit is required to confirm implementation of corrective actions.
What to expect during the renewal audit?
You can expect the Re-certification or Re-verification audit to be similar to your initial NDIS registration audit which assesses how well you are meeting the requirements of the NDIS Practice Standards and providing ongoing quality outcomes for your NDIS participants. They will also review your previous audit findings including non-conformances and follow up actions to address these.
The Re-certification audit will be undertaken in two stages with the first stage (Stage 1 audit) involving a remote desktop document review and the second stage (Stage 2 audit), usually an onsite visit to assess how you are well you are implementing your supports including interviews with staff and participants. Auditors will also sample records including participant files, staff/worker screening, qualification and training records, and other records to verify conformity to the standards such as internal audits, business plans, emergency and disaster management plans.
The Re-verification audit will assess how you are meeting the requirements of the Verification Module in the NDIS Practice Standards and Quality Indicators via a desktop document review. As well as reviewing documented procedures, auditors will also need to sample some records including staff/worker screening, qualification and training records, insurance records and records for complaints and incidents.
Once your auditor has submitted their audit report the NDIS Commission will make a renewal registration decision based on the audit report findings and a suitability assessment of your organisation and key personnel.
How we can help
Engels Floyd have a range of resources and training courses that can assist you with your system as well as audit preparation. We can also conduct internal audits if your staff lack the time to do these themselves. Our preparatory audits are a proven way to identify any gaps or areas for improvement.
If you would like to know more about the NDIS renewal process or how you can be properly prepared for your upcoming audit please contact us on 0478 616 207 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary consultation. Information on Engels Floyd, our services and training courses are available on our web site www.engelsfloyd.com.
This article provides an update on NDIS RAC ‘modified audits’. Legislation was amended in April 2023 to allow for these type of audits.
NDIS participants living in Residential Aged Care are dual participants of the NDIS and aged care systems.
On 1 December 2020, Residential Aged Care providers delivering services to NDIS participants in their facilities automatically became registered NDIS providers. This ensured that all RAC providers were required to meet the requirements under the NDIS Code of Conduct and the NDIS Practice Standards.
After 1 December 2020, RAC providers were required to apply for registration with the NDIS Commission as a new applicant in the following circumstances:
• they receive direct funding from the NDIA to deliver supports and services to NDIS participants; and/or
• they develop behaviour support plans; and/or
• they implement regulated restrictive practices; and/or
• they operate Specialist Disability Accommodation; and/or
• they deliver plan management supports to NDIS participants.
Given that most of the NDIS participants RAC providers support receive direct funding from the NDIA, they will be required to register with the NDIS Commission. As such, dual registration with the Aged Care Quality Commission and NDIS Commission is required for RAC providers resulting in dual compliance requirements.
Modified RAC audits
The NDIS Commission has considered that the existing aged care audit process through the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is a ‘comparable quality audit process’ for NDIS registration purposes. This means there is scope for some eligible RAC providers to undertake a modified NDIS RAC audit which will minimise duplication in compliance requirements. To decide if a modified NDIS RAC audit is applicable, the AQA needs to consider a range of factors including the most recent aged care accreditation audit, the RAC provider’s plan for continuous improvement, status of any complaints, and any sanctions for non-compliance with aged care responsibilities.
RAC providers will need to discuss this option with their Approved Quality Auditor to review if they are eligible for this pathway. Authorisation from the NDIS Commission is then required before the modified NDIS RAC audit can take place.
How EFA can help
EFA in partnership with ARTD, were recently involved in a project with the NDIS Commission assisting Residential Aged Care (RAC) providers supporting NDIS participants during their NDIS registration processes. This included the development of a Residential Aged Care Provider Toolkit including a number of fact sheets, tools, resources and webinars to not only support RAC providers but also NDIS participants, auditors and other stakeholders when undertaking audit activities as part of their mandatory registration renewal process. Our involvement means we have an excellent understanding of the NDIS RAC modified audit requirements. We encourage RAC providers to review these resources and see how they may help you in your NDIS registration process.
If you require any assistance understanding your NDIS obligations and preparing for your NDIS audit please contact us on 0478 616 207 or email@example.com for a complimentary consultation.
Did you know the NDIS Commission released a new Practice Alert on High Risk Restrictive Practices?
In January 2023, the NDIS Commission released a new Practice Alert on high risk restrictive practices.
The NDIS Act 2013 defines a restrictive practice as ‘any practice or intervention that has the effect of restricting the rights or freedom of movement of a person with disability’. High risk restrictive practices covered in the practice alert include restrictive practices that fall within the definitions of the five restrictive practices that are ‘regulated restrictive practices’, and other practices that are not regulated but that restrict the rights of a person with disability.
High-risk restrictive practices place participants at high risk of harm and are associated with adverse and catastrophic outcomes for participants such as long-term psychological or physical injury and death.
High risk restrictive practices can include:
Specific forms of physical restraint that present high risk to participant health, wellbeing and safety eg basket hold, prone and supine restraint, pin downs and takedown techniques
Punitive approaches that may constitute emotional, psychological and/or social abuse of a participant eg aversive practices, denial of key needs, practices related to degradation or vilification, overcorrection, practices that limit or deny access to culture or remove positive items or activities because of the person’s behaviour.
Additionally, there are practices not referred to in the practice alert that are prohibited in the state or territory in which providers and workers may operate. Providers and workers should be aware of the practices that are prohibited by law in the state or territory in which they operate.
Any high-risk restrictive practices must be ceased immediately and replaced with proactive and evidence-informed alternatives. If the practice is included in a positive behaviour support plan for a participant, the practice must be ceased and removed from the plan.
The NDIS Commissioner remains concerned about the use of high risk restrictive practices in the sector and use of these practices by NDIS providers constitutes a serious breach of the NDIS Code of Conduct. The NDIS Commissioner will take strong action against any provider and individuals that engage in these practices.
We recommend NDIS providers read the Practice Alert and review their current practices to ensure that no high risk restrictive practices are in use. If you are concerned about your current practices or would like to have a discussion on how you are implementing restrictive practices in your business please contact us on 0478 616 207 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary consultation.
As an NDIS provider do you know your clients have consumer rights for the supports they purchase under Australian Consumer Law?
Just like regular businesses providing goods and services to consumers, businesses who provide goods and services to consumers with a disability have obligations under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA), referred to as Australian Consumer Law and the NDIS Code of Conduct. The consumer law provides a set of protections and obligations for any consumer transaction within Australia, including those through the NDIS.
Under the Australian Consumer Law, NDIS participants have the following rights when purchasing a product or service:
the right to be treated fairly
the right to be given accurate information before they buy
the right to cancel a faulty service
the right to purchase goods or services that are of acceptable quality, fit for purpose and match the description or sample provided to the consumer (consumer guarantees). When the consumer guarantees are not met consumers are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund depending on the severity of the failure.
These consumer rights apply to:
general products (e.g. groceries, clothes and household items)
disability related products (e.g. an assistive hearing device or mobility aids)
services (e.g. accommodation, cleaning, cooking, personal care, gardening services or case management supports).
The ACCC have released resources to assist NDIS participants and providers understand consumer rights when selling and buying goods and services.
Breaches of NDIS participants consumer rights are a key concern of relevant government agencies. On 22 January 2021, the ACCC, NDIA and the NDIS Commission jointly issued an open co-signed letter to NDIS providers. The letter was issued to remind NDIS providers (both registered and unregistered) of their obligations to consumers under both the ACL and the Code.
In the letter all agencies said that they were aware of a number of emerging consumer issues within the disability sector, with some NDIS providers not meeting their consumer protection obligations. Issues affecting vulnerable consumers are an enduring priority for the ACCC and they will not hesitate to take action when these laws are breached including serious financial penalties, court ordered corrective actions and reputational costs.
Some conduct that is in breach of the consumer law may also lead to action being taken by the NDIS Commission against a provider under the NDIS Code of Conduct. For example, ‘sharp practices’ are considered unethical and are discouraged under the NDIS Code of Conduct and may also constitute conduct that is considered misleading and in contravention of the consumer law. ‘Sharp practices’ refers to unfair treatment or taking advantage of people. Examples of this include:
providing services or expending funds contrary to a person with disability’s approved plan
asking for or accepting any additional fees for providing the service
offering inducements or rewards that have no particular link to a person’s NDIS plan and that could be perceived to encourage people to take up or continue with your organisation or a particular service option, and
engaging in high-pressure sales tactics.
The ACCC have also released a range of useful resources for NDIS participants in different formats to help them understand and use their consumer rights when they pay for a product or service themselves or through their state or territory’s disability support system, including complaints pathways. Consumers with disability | ACCC. We recommend you make your NDIS participants aware of these resources and their consumer rights.
If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised above or any other NDIS requirements that are impacting your business please contact us on 0478 616 207 or email@example.com for a complimentary consultation.
Having the right position descriptions are vital to attracting the right people to your organisation with the skills and knowledge that are suited to the role and your NDIS business.
A position description provides useful information to potential workers about the role and expectations and provides feedback to existing workers.
The NDIS Workforce Capability Framework describes the attitudes, skills and knowledge that service providers and workers should demonstrate when delivering services to people with disability under the NDIS.
The Framework describes core worker capabilities that can give your workers and potential workers a clearer understanding about both the type of work and how it should be done.
The core capabilities can be used as the foundation for building and reviewing current position descriptions that are suited to different participant needs and delivery environments.
The NDIS Commission has released a Position Description Tool to support NDIS providers to develop position descriptions based on the capabilities in the Framework.
The tool will help you create detailed position descriptions that include important information of the position and that aligns with the Workforce Capability Framework.
The tool is interactive and will automatically populate with capabilities from the Framework based on the type of role you are creating.