What is the role of a Support Coordinator?
The role of support coordinator is a relatively new one and so, there is often a lot of confusion around what exactly it entails. In this article, we hope to clear up some of the confusion about what a support coordinator does, how to become one, and some of the things that make for a good support coordinator. If you’ve ever considered becoming a support coordinator or are wondering whether you are eligible to receive funding for your own support coordinator, this guide is for you.
What is support coordination under the NDIS?
According to the NDIS, support coordination is designed to help NDIS participants to make the most of their NDIS plan, by:
- Helping participants to use their NDIS plan to pursue their goals
- Connect with NDIS providers, community, mainstream, and other government services
- Build participants’ confidence and skills to use and coordinate their supports
A support coordinator or specialist support coordinator delivers services to help NDIS participants to coordinate their support under their NDIS plan. Three levels of support coordination may be included in an NDIS plan, including:
- Support connection: This support helps participants to build their ability to connect with informal, community, and funded supports enabling them to get the most out of their plan and pursue their goals.
- Support coordination or ‘coordination of supports’: This support will assist NDIS participants to build the skills needed to understand and use their plan. A support coordinator will work with participants to ensure a mix of supports are used to increase their capacity to maintain relationships, manage service delivery tasks, live more independently, and be included in the community.
- Specialist support coordination: This is a higher level of support coordination. It is meant for people whose situations are more complex and who need specialist support. A specialist support coordinator will assist with managing challenges in the support environment and ensuring consistent delivery of service.
What is a support coordinator and what do they do?
Support coordinators are professionals who are dedicated to helping those living with a disability and receiving NDIS funding to access services that allow them to reach their goals, lead fulfilling lives, and live as independently as possible. First and foremost, a support coordinator should be:
- Compassionate about providing services that support and uplift those living with a disability
- Organised and able to manage a busy workload under strict NDIS regulations
- Qualified and experienced in the relevant allied health field/s
- Able to maintain professional boundaries and relationships
- Connected to the local community and care networks
The role of a support coordinator encompasses a variety of objectives and can be quite complex. One of the biggest hurdles for a support coordinator is ensuring they assist their participants with the following, before their funding runs out:
- Connection: Assisting participants to develop knowledge, experience, and connections within the community and broader systems of support.
- Support design: Working with participants to help them understand their NDIS plan funding and its purpose, identify what they want from their services, and design solutions to help meet their objectives.
- Establish supports: Assisting participants to identify and consider their support options, and help by linking participants with the broader support systems available. Where necessary and practical, creating a support and action plan to facilitate the participant to implement their plan.
- Crisis: Assisting participants to resolve points of crisis and to develop capacity and resilience in the participant’s network.
- Coach, Refine, and Reflect: Coaching the participant through challenges that arise and helping to prepare them for review and reporting on achieved outcomes.
Only so much funding is allocated to each participant for their support coordination, and so, a support coordinator must be mindful of this. Eventually, as a participant’s capacity and knowledge develop, the role of support coordinator may be replaced by support connection, or the introduction of a Local Area Coordinator in subsequent plans.
What does a support coordinator NOT do?
The role of support coordinator is complex and multi-faceted, and it can be difficult to maintain boundaries around the role and what it covers. Whether you are considering becoming a support coordinator, or are looking to utilise the services of a support coordinator, it is important to understand what is NOT covered under the role, including:
- Direct supports: Support coordinators are there to provide coordination, but not directly provide services. If working within an organisation that provides both direct support and support coordination, it is important for a support coordinator to provide coordination services only, in their support coordinator role.
- Signing service agreements: Although support coordinators are there to help with coordinating supports for NDIS participants, they cannot sign service agreements. They can, however, help to review service agreements and ensure they meet participants’ needs.
- Plan management: Plan management and support coordination are separate roles. And so, if working for a service provider that offers both, the budget hours used for each service must be kept strictly separate. Support coordination services should not be allocated for things covered by plan management fees such as invoice processing, for example.
- Rostering or intake processes: Administration of direct support services, rostering, or intake processing are not things that a support coordinator is responsible for. If the organisation provides both direct supports and support coordination services, it is important for them to keep these services separate and allocate/budget for them separately.
Do support coordinators need to be NDIS registered?
No, support coordinators do not need to be registered providers to offer support coordination services. However, only participants who self-managed their NDIS plan can engage a non-registered coordinator.
Although support coordinators can be registered or unregistered, but both are required to follow the NDIS Code of Conduct. Registered support providers, like Care For Family, must also meet the quality standards outlined in the NDIS Practice Standards.
How do I become a support coordinator?
Although there is no prerequisite in terms of qualifications to become a support coordinator, to become registered with the NDIS, the coordinator must have the relevant qualifications or experience. This could be having a Cert III, diploma, or bachelor’s degree in allied health. This might mean having a Certificate III in Individual Support, a Bachelor of Community Welfare, or anything in between.
Being registered with the NDIS as a support coordinator requires a few more steps, but the benefits include being available to a wider range of participants. The process involves:
- Preparing the prerequisite information and checks, including your registered ABN or proof of not-for-profit status, a police check, and working with children check. Then, you may registered via the Provider Digital Access site.
- The NDIS Commission will advise you about which audit you need. You will then work with an auditor for quality, verification, and certification audits, after which the NDIS Commission will confirm your registration.
Whether or not you choose to register with the NDIS as a support coordinator, once you have the relevant skills, qualifications, and experience, you can begin applying for roles as a support coordinator. The more experience and qualifications you bring with you, the more attractive your application will be to potential employers.
For more information about the role of support coordinator and vacancies for the role at Care For Family, get in touch with our team or visit our jobs page today.