Understanding The Role of a Support Coordinator
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Understanding The Role of a Support Coordinator

If you’re considering a career in care, or a change of role within this highly rewarding industry, you may already have considered a Support Coordinator. Likewise, if you or someone you love already receives care you may have heard many people refer to the role or even spoken to a NDIS Support Coordinator yourself. But this role is multifaceted and lots of institutions have a slightly different perception of what a Support Coordinator is, what their duties and responsibilities are and what a typical working day may look like for them.

Here we’ll take a closer look into this multifaceted and rewarding job role in a way that will hopefully benefit both those working in NDIS care and those receiving it to better understand the role…

What is a Support Coordinator? Duties and responsibilities

The role of Support Coordinator is relatively new. Those who administer training for those in the role find that new candidate’s employers are often sure what to expect. This can make life difficult for new Support Coordinators who may struggle to define boundaries and can get roped into doing things that are outside of the confines of their job description. This can compromise the quality of the service that they’re able to offer participants and in some cases can result in burnout.

So, let’s take a closer look at the duties, roles and responsibilities of NDIS Support Coordination Providers.

A fairly useful definition of a Support Coordinator’s varied roles can be found in the newest version of the NDIS Price Guide. In this guides their roles are clearly defined as;

Connection

A Support Coordinator acts as a point of connection for the participant. It’s their job to assist participants in developing their knowledge and experience as well as assisting them with making connections within their community. They will usually also help to make referrals and help participants to access other systems of support.

Support Design

It can be difficult for participants to gain a working understanding of Plan Funding. A Support Coordinator will work with them to better understand it and how it affects them. They get to know participants’ aptitudes, skills and confidence and help them to identify exactly what they want and should expect from support services. Once they have a firm understanding of this, they develop and design support solutions designed to help participants to achieve their desired outcomes.

Establish Support

It’s a Support Coordinator’s job to ensure that participants know all their available options. They link participants to NDIS and broader support options, helping them to identify and consider options that are appropriate and available to them. Where possible and practical, it’s also the Support Coordinator’s job to create a support and action plan and help the participant to implement it to their satisfaction.

Crisis Resolution

Support Coordinators may also be expected to assist in crisis resolution, helping participants to resolve points of crisis while also helping participants to develop a capable and resilient support network.

Coach, Refine, Reflect

A Support Coordinator works closely with participants to guide them through challenges, review their progress and report on achieved outcomes so participants can reflect on their journey with NDIS support and plan future goals.

As we can see… that’s a lot!

Are Support Coordinators really expected to cover all of this? Like most NDIS support staff, Support Coordinators are paid on an hourly basis as-and-when needed for as long as the participant’s funding lasts. Unfortunately, most participant’s funding simply doesn’t last long enough for them to do all of the above. And once participants’ funding has run out,there’s no obligation to continue supporting participants unless it would be a breach of duty of care not to continue.

As such, a useful strategy for new Support Coordinators is to set aside some time at the beginning of a plan to honestly and openly discuss what can be achieved for them in line with their funding allocation. This helps to keep participants’ expectations realistic and ensures that they get the most possible value from their support.

Once this has been established, Support Coordinators and participants can work together to identify which services and outcomes are most important to them and establish clear expectations.

Pro-tip for new Support Coordinators

Wherever you can, it’s good practice to keep some hours in the bank to help support participants in getting ready for their plan review. This will play a crucial role in enabling participants to get peak support even after the Support Coordinator’s relationship with them has ended.

It’s important to remember that many participants may not have the funding for Support Coordination after their Plan Review or at the very least it may be significantly less. This is Support Coordinators to ensure that participants are supported and empowered as much as possible after they’ve had to part ways.

A Support Coordinators can also attend planning meetings, as long as they are invited and not attending in the capacity of an advocate.

What doesn’t a Support Coordinator do?

Support Coordinators tend to be passionate and obliging professionals who care deeply about helping people get the best care. What’s more, the role of Support Coordinator is still relatively new and so there may be confusion about duties that a Support Coordinator can or cannot fulfil under NDIS guidelines. As such, whether you’re thinking of becoming one or you’re thinking you need one, it’s worth learning about what they do not and cannot do…

Direct supports

Support Coordination funds are for just that. Support Coordination. As such, they cannot be used to provide the kind of direct support that is usually funded by core budgets.

Signing service agreements

Participants may ask Support Coordinators to sign service agreements on their behalf. Unfortunately, this is not something that they can or should offer to do. A service agreement is not a valid contract if it is signed by someone who has no legal capacity to sign on behalf of the participant. Support Coordinators can, however, play a key role in reviewing service agreements and ensuring that they meet participant’s needs and goals.

Plan Management

If Support Coordinators work for providers who also offer Plan Management, there needs to be clear delineation between these two distinct roles so that Support Coordinator’s hours are used appropriately. They cannot carry out administrative tasks like invoice processing which are covered by participants; Plan Management fees.

Rosters and intake processes

Lots of organisations provide a combination of direct support and Support Coordination to the same participants. Again, it’s important that Support Coordinators’ hours are used appropriately. This does not include administration of direct supports or undertaking rostering or intake processes.

Am I able to receive Support Coordination?

It’s clear to see all the ways in which a Support Coordinator can be beneficial to all kinds of participants. If you are a participant reading this, you may wonder if you are eligible for your own Support Coordination.

Anyone can apply for Support Coordination, and it is funded as part of your NDIS package wherever it is deemed “reasonable and necessary”. Still, it’s best to ask your NDIS care provider as they will have the familiarity with your needs to ascertain whether you are eligible for this kind of support. The decision is made based on your NDIS goals and your plan objectives. Specialist Support Coordinators can be assigned to you if you have complex or advanced needs.

If you feel that you would benefit from this service, we absolutely recommend getting in touch with your care provider to see if this is a service that they can offer you. Of course, if we are your NDIS care provider, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today to talk about Support Coordination.

What should I expect from a Support Coordinator?

Expectations are important. Whether you’re a participant, a Support Coordinator or someone who’s thinking of becoming a Support Coordinator, expectation management can help to ensure a harmonious and productive relationship between participants and Support Coordinators.

As such, participants should know what qualities to look for both in a Support Coordinator and a home care provider. Because Support Coordination is a relatively new discipline, some providers and even Support Coordinators may be a little unsure of what is expected of them. With that in mind, let’s look at what participants should expect from their NDIS Plan Support Coordinator;

A strong professional relationship

As we’ve discussed previously, a Support Coordinator plays a large part in advising participants on which services are best for them and helps them to prioritise their time with them effectively to achieve the outcomes that matter the most to them. As such, participants need to have a good rapport with their Support Coordinators and feel that they are genuinely passionate about ensuring that they provide access to the support you need. Your time with them is finite, so you need to feel that they’re always looking out for your best interests and care about helping you meet your goals and objectives.

An objective outlook

It’s a Support Coordinator’s job to advise participants on services are best for them. This may or may not include services that are within the range of what their employers offer. It’s about helping you to form a wider network of support ensuring that you get easy access to the services in your plan no matter who’s providing them.

As such, you need to ensure that there are appropriate checks and balances in place to ensure that Support Coordinators aren’t just recommending their own services at the expense of others that may be a better fit for you..
A clear focus on outcomes

Support is important, but participants don’t just need to be supported in their day-to-day lives. They need a proactive and outcome-led approach to support that will help them to live more happily and autonomously within their communities. The key focus of NDIS, after all, is on helping -participants with capacity building, charting a path to independence and acquiring new skills and coping strategies.

A good Support Coordinator will be focused not just on providing you with value for money and getting the most out of every hour but tying your interactions specifically to the outcomes that are outlined in your plan. They should take the time to find out what’s important for you and help you to identify opportunities to move forward.

When a participant first meets with a new Support Coordinator, they should start off by outlining specifically how the support they provide will facilitate them to achieve desired outcomes.

Local experience

No participant is an island and it’s essential that they know what is available to them in their own local area if they are to get the most out of their support in the community.

As such, a Support Coordinator should have an extensive knowledge of the disability and community sectors in the areas where they operate, as well as knowing the quality of services in relevant fields in order to make better recommendations to the participant and better meet their individual needs.

Putting participants in the driver’s seat

A participant shouldn’t be a passive observer in the planning process. They should be an active participant. The best Support Coordinators take as much time to listen as to talk. They put participants in the driver’s seat making them a full and equal part of driving the planning process. This is, of course, their legal right. What’s more, who understands a participants needs, goals and concerns better than they themselves.

They should actively encourage participation in planning, listen to what they have to say and support them in getting what they need by referring them to the right people and agencies.

Want to know more about the role of a Support Coordinator?

Hopefully this post has enabled you to better understand the role and responsibilities of a Support Coordinator. Whether you’re a participant yourself or the friend or family member of someone who is, this will hopefully help you to better understand what participants can reasonably expect. Likewise if you’re thinking of becoming a Support Coordinator this will hopefully have clarified what participants can expect of you.

Still, if you’d like to know anything else about the role of Support Coordinator, or how to apply for Support Coordination please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

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