QDC concurrent session: NDIS trial site experience from a medium-sized provider

>> CHAIR: I think we have got most people that are coming init’s a full house, Anthony We have done well (laughs) Good afternoon, everyone My name is Angela Tillmanns

I am the CEO of the Cerebral Palsy League And it’s my pleasure this afternoon to introduce Anthony Mitchell to you Anthony has been the CEO of Leapfrog Ability which is a medium sized disability service provider in the Hunter It turns over around about 7 million; it has 60 staff; and the very scary part about it is, their entire business is located in the trial site So their whole business is up for grabs through this process

It’s definitely sharpened Anthony’s mind He’s been the CEO for three years and he’s overseen a doubling in size of the organisation in that time He’s been preparing Leapfrog for the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and he was one of the first of five NGOs to transition in the Hunter region So he was certainly at the forefront of change Prior to Leapfrog, he worked for the Health Department in New South Wales where luckily enough he was involved in change management and implementing many changes in that State

So that was certainly a good warm up for what he’s now doing Anthony is going to be talking to us for around about 30 minutes and then there will be ample times for all of your questions at the completion of that So I will hand you over to Anthony >> ANTHONY: Thanks, Angela As Angela said, I am the CEO of Leapfrog Ability and we are situated smack bang in the launch area for the Hunter

The Hunter NDIS launch started there nine months ago and that was when I had black hair (laughs) So you have been hearing today about the NDIS and one thing that I can say, having had nine months of experience with it, is that it is fantastic for the participants, as we have to call them now, “clients” in our old language But it is an outstanding change and it’s really worth supporting from a service provider perspective as well as a general community perspective However, it does introduce a whole heap of problems for providers, such as ourselves I am here today to talk to you specifically about small to medium providers, which is what I class Leapfrog Ability as, and try and give you some confidence around the future

I have heard a lot of talk around there’s a fear of us being wiped out as we go down the model that the UK have and small to medium providers won’t exist, but I beg to differ and my nine months involved in the NDIS trial in Newcastle hasn’t changed my mind I think absolutely there’s a place for us in the future and to maximise variety and options for people with disability, we absolutely have to survive the next few years Just to get an idea for myself, can I have a show of hands of service providers in the room? Okay If you class yourself as a large provider, so one, say, with more than a million dollar turnover, put your hands down? Good, lots of small to medium; that’s excellent What about if your turnover is between 5 and 20 million, put your hand down? Excellent, so we have still got a lot of small providers

Thanks, guys It has made my trip worthwhile seeing you all This session is to share my experience with Leapfrog Ability over the last nine months I am going to provide some suggestions to you around what I think I would do again, if we were starting again Not that I am the expert by any means, but having been through it, if we were going through it again, I would make some changes to what we have done

And then I want to allow plenty of time for questions because I am sure you have heaps and I won’t dare predict what they might be So just a quick background on Leapfrog Ability We are a small to medium sized NGO, providing disability services in the Hunter region We operate in the eight LGAs within the Hunter and for those of you that don’t know that area, it is a beautiful place, about two hours north of Sydney Lots of wineries and beaches and nice people

But of the eight LGAs that are in the area that we service as an organisation, three of them are the three NDIA launch LGAs, being Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Maitland Now, that might not sound like it is a lot, but that accounts for about 75 per cent of our business because those three LGAs are where the majority of the population live So about 75 per cent of our current clients live in the launch sites As Angela mentioned, that definitely sharpens your mind when you are moving into a total change in the way your funding works Our organisation focuses on intellectual disabilities

We have a few people with physical disabilities, but our core grouping of clients is intellectual Prior to the NDIS, we were solely funded, apart from our fundraising charity which we have, by the New South Wales Government, through the Department of Disability and Home Care through block funding I have been speaking to a few people here today and it sounds like in Queensland you are actually a fair way down the track of individual funding packages, which is a great sign That would actually make it a lot easier One of the problems that we had was that the majority of our funding was block funded

We had a few individually funded people, but one of the biggest transition issues we have had, really, is trying to individualise our current block funding clients There is a lot of administrative work that goes around that and there is a lot of negotiation between the NDIS and the New South Wales Government who currently fund us in this transitional phase So that’s really been one of our main bug bears So if you can individualise things as you are going, all the better We currently provide services, drop-in support, for people living independently with an intellectual disability, which are fairly stable clients well, a stable number of clients and the same people each year that we look after

We also provide behavioural intervention services and respite services Now, in those areas, our clients change a lot, particularly in the behavioural intervention, because we might go in, provide a service for a couple of months and then come out again and not necessarily have that same client again, ever, hopefully So we have a lot of client churn in those areas, which was another issue for us As Angela mentioned, our annual turnover is approximately 70 million with 60 staff Now that has actually doubled in size in the last three years

Now, how we have done that was actually not really to do with the NDIS but it was because of the preparatory work that we did in the lead up to the NDIS We started thinking about the NDIS back in 2011 as an organisation, when we realised it was going to be likely to be in the Hunter So a lot the things we did back then, two years ago, actually made our existing business more efficient and attractive allowed us to provide more services, more and better services for the funding that we were already getting, but because we were getting better results, we actually attracted more funding from State Government So it had a double benefit As well as preparing us for the NDIS, it actually helped us attract more funding to us in the lead up to 1 July last year, when it all changed

What did we do? Well, to start with, as I said, the launch sites accounted for 75 per cent of our business So we needed to get it right, from the word go This was a big challenge, as it would be when you are looking at losing about $5 million across three years, when you are only a $7 million business So what we did was this this is two years ago, in 2011 we did a full review of all our block funded services, focussing on the person centeredness Everyone uses those words

If you ask anybody in this room, you will all say, “We provide person centred services”, but it’s not really until you test that, that you are really sure So we did that We tried to test that by talking to our clients, doing surveys with them, and really asking the question, “Are we listening to and meeting the needs of our clients?” Then we looked at client demand So given a choice would our current clients choose to come back to us? Because that’s what the NDIS does — it gives the choice back to the person with the disability and they can then choose to use your service, or not And that can be at any time

So you really need to be sure that the service you are providing is one that they are going to choose you for Of course, the third point: you need to be able to provide the service efficiently So we needed to look at what we were doing and whether we could do it efficiently enough to be able to set a reasonable price for that service and then so that we wouldn’t be going backwards by offering a service that was inefficient At the time, we were running a host family care program Now, we took the decision two years ago — well, back in 2011 — to end that, because we looked at it and we thought, well, no, it’s actually not profitable the way that we were running it

It is not to say that host family care is not profitable, but the way we were running it, it wasn’t profitable So we decided to can that program and we decided to invest our resources in a brokerage model of respite So we then sold ourselves as, “Well, we are independent because we don’t provide any respite services” but we can then broker them out to existing service providers but also to other people that aren’t registered, that receive funding elsewhere So we could access the host family carers that we used before but on a brokerage model And that actually has worked

That was one of the reasons why we increased our turnover in the years leading up to the NDIS because that was actually a really good model that we had going; it was something that we became very efficient at The State Government liked it because they could throw money at us and know that we could spread it across the region and across the different providers So it worked very well for us, for a while But I will come back to how that’s going now, later on So that’s from an operations perspective

The big one and I am assuming most people here were at Elise’s session this morning, from Cerebral Palsy Alliance; very similar I would agree with nearly everything she said in the area of how you prepare Governance is a huge one If you do nothing else now, this year, you need to start thinking about your governance We had a strategic planning day back in 2011 with all our Board members specifically to discuss the NDIS and how we would address it as an organisation

We asked ourselves the question, which basically comes down to your organisation’s mission and vision: “Where do we want our organisation to fit in the new world?” We looked at ours and we thought, well, we are local We connect well with a lot of community groups There are a lot of disability support groups that we have contacts with and we work with The University of Newcastle, we do a lot of work with them We have our own charity called “Fair Go For Kids” which is supported by local businesses

So we have actually engaged the business community to donate a thousand dollars each to support that charity and they do that year on year So we have got a lot of local community links So we wanted to build on those You need to be flexible well, we wanted to be flexible, as we have always been those first two items are key, I think, for small and medium service providers They are the two advantages that we have over the bigger guys

We can be flexible and we can have great community connections At Leapfrog Ability we are intellectual disability specialists as well as behaviour specialists, so that is something unique in the Hunter region anyway, that we have that And we made a conscious decision that we wanted to compete on quality, not on price or promotions We don’t want client churn; we want repeat business So we want clients to come to us and stay with us

Now, that is not just because that it is a smart way to do business, but we want to do that because it is the right thing to do I mean, we are in disability service because we want to provide a quality service to people They are the sort of things that we at a governance level wanted to focus on Out of that, we developed a targeted marketing strategy around low cost, good return on our investment, because we can’t afford TV ads, newspaper ads, giant billboards outside Energy Australia stadium or Lang Park, in your case, like some other providers did do not to mention who they are, but I know some of them are in the room but focus on things like email, social media, things that don’t cost anything, or very little, and are targeted You know, talk to your disability support groups that you know

They would be more than happy for you to provide them with information and they could even pass it on to their members for you There’s ways of doing it, that aren’t expensive So from an administrative and HR perspective, this is probably some of the areas where you do need to make some really big changes or we needed to make some really big changes The obvious one is reducing your red tape and inefficient work practices You can get away with that in a block funded environment because you have got to meet hours, but if you don’t really focus too much on the cost, it’s not that big a deal; you can get away with it

You can’t in the new world If your services aren’t efficient, you are going to end up going broke You need to educate staff on the changes in their role focus; in particular, the importance of customer service, flexibility and being in tune with the client needs and the wants Now, this is coming back to the person centredness again, but this is where we probably failed a little bit because we said, “Yep, we are person centred,” but it is not just you being person centred, it’s about your manager being person centred, it’s about the team leader being person centred; it’s about the support worker that’s dealing with the person with a disability in their own home, on a daily basis They are the one that has to be person centred more than anybody else

So I will give NDS a plug here and suggest that you send your support worker to NDS sponsored training because it was a very good resource that we utilised Our support workers found it beneficial and it’s a good way of telling your staff that you are investing in them, in the new world Because the next point, communicating the NDIS developments to the staff regularly, about both internal changes within your organisation and external changes are very important It’s actually ironic in that the NDIS is going to require about twice as many staff as the old system well, the current system of disability service provision yet your staff are worried about their jobs (laughs) So it’s rather ironic, but what you need to do is just explain any changes you are going to make to your business; explain them to your staff upfront, why you are doing them and bring them with you as much as you can

It is not easy because a lot of the times well, certainly in our case, the future is still unknown So you have just got to tell them what you can and just walk them through and re enforce it; you know, “your role is to keep providing as good a service as you can, and that we will look after the rest” Not easy, but you must communicate it As Elise said this morning, from Cerebral Palsy Alliance, the communication with your staff is critical Because if you don’t, they will make it up (laughs)

So what did we do around workforce to meet the needs of the NDIS? Now, considering we are only a relatively small provider, so we can’t make massive changes around our management structures and have all these different policy groups and all the rest of it You know, small to medium guys, we don’t have all those resources So we focused on two main jobs We put on a management accountant, which we never had before Absolutely, that was the right thing to do

Her role is to determine the individual service costings, which are very difficult to do; particularly identifying indirect costs and trying to split them out across your different services Her role now also includes the billing process which is virtually a full time job Also, very important, make sure that everything you do, you bill for well, everything that you can bill for, do bill for Don’t do work and then let the paperwork slip away, because you are only hurting yourself, as an organisation So we needed that role to really make sure that all those things happened

And that was a critical role We have also employed a client liaison officer which and this is debatable whether this was a good way to go or not it is essentially a sales representative role So what we have done, we have made him the first point of contact with new clients So if someone walks into our office at Hamilton and walks up to the desk and says, “I have an NDIS package, what can you do for me?”, Anthony — which is another one, not me — who is our client liaison officer, he will go and meet with them and potentially sit down with them for half a day, if that’s what’s required, work through their plan with them, see if there’s things that we can provide It’s there not things that we can provide, he can refer them to someone that’s meaningful, if possible

Most of his job is not billable Even if the person signs up with us, it’s not billable work So it’s an overhead but we think it’s a necessary overhead You could get away without having that, but if you didn’t then what it means is that your other managers have going to have to fill that role because there’s a lot of work involved upfront with new clients; even with existing clients as they transition into the world of NDIS So that’s what we did do

So come July last year, I was pretty chuffed I thought, “Yeah, we are doing alright” However, (laughs) there were a lot of things — and it wasn’t necessarily our fault, remembering, there were a lot of things about the NDIS that weren’t thought about until it actually went live in July last year So there were a lot of things that there was no way we could have predicted how they were going to pan out However, one of the major issues, as I was saying earlier, is the transitioning issues from existing clients that are currently block funded into an individual arrangement

Identifying how much that is worth to you is hard because the State Government want to take that off you and then you have got to negotiate with the NDIA planner with what you are getting back, so it was quite messy; particularly for an organisation like ours, particularly in our behaviour and respite programs as we have a high turnover in our clients It is not like we have a group home of ten people; we have got hundreds of clients that we might work with a few times and then not see again So there was quite a lot of work around that The impact of NDIS price controls You may be aware that there’s a current price list out that is a little bit controversial in some areas

In fact, under the current pricing model for New South Wales, some of the services that we provide just aren’t profitable, the way we run them Now, we at some point will either have to review them as to whether we provide them long term or my hope is that the promise that David gave at the CA conference last year, that the price controls would be removed, will come to fruition Because in some cases, they aren’t reasonable, others are In fact, a lot of them are quite reasonable, particularly in the clinical areas, but there are some – and it varies from state to state – that just won’t work So we need to review those

The influence of planners in a client’s plan Now, this is a bit controversial I probably shouldn’t be saying this, particularly when it’s being videoed, but (laughs) whether you like it or not, the planners are going to have an influence over what goes into a person’s plan It doesn’t matter how unbiased they are What that means is: unconsciously, they are going to want to do the same thing over and over again, which makes it hard to then be innovative as a provider, because if you think up an innovative solution, unless the planner knows about it, how is he going to suggest that that should go in the plan? So that’s a tricky one

We have been up there at Charlestown trying to talk to the planners and educate them on the services that we can provide but it’s difficult; particularly when you are only providing them, like, these unique/individualised services, to a few different clients It’s hard when you have only got five/ten clients to justify the program or justify what you are offering So that’s been an issue Lack of coordination and funds management This one came out of the blue for us because part of our core business, particularly around the respite area under the old system, was coordination and fund management for people with an intellectual disability

They can’t do it themselves If you don’t have your supports, if you don’t have informal supports which a lot of our clients don’t, funds management and respite coordination for families in stress is something that we were really good at And that is not funded So we thought that would be a winner, but it’s not So we have to change the way we do business in that area

Some services that we currently provide under the old system didn’t even translate into the NDIS So as an example, we provided behaviour conferences annually for service providers in the Hunter Unless you can individualise a service to a participant, it won’t be funded under the NDIS The NDIS is all about the participant; it’s not about the sector So any sector training that we used to do isn’t funded through the NDIS

You need to find alternative ways to fund things like that You will either need to charge fee for service or you will need to look at other avenues for grants, such as FaHCSIA as an example, but under the old system we were getting State funding for that, and it’s just not going to be there And we significantly underestimated the administrative burden due to the episodic nature of our clients; how many of them are turning over so quickly Every time you have a new client, there’s a whole lot of extra admin that you have to go around and do again So there’s a lot of things that they miss and they sound a bit negative but that’s what happens in a trial

You are going to get a lot of things that don’t work What I will do now is just move onto the advice I have six forms of advice and then I will take questions First one: start to prepare early We started in 2011 and that was two years prior to the launch which I think was very worthwhile and that’s about the time that you are at now

So I would suggest to you that it might be time to get started Your governance Understand your mission and vision Consolidate what you offer in your product mix Don’t try to be everything for everybody

It won’t work as a small to medium provider You need to really look at what you are good at Identify your niche products, as I was just saying What is your competitive advantage in your area? No sacred cows The things that you have been providing for 30 years, just because you have been providing it for 30 years, it doesn’t mean you need to continue

Really question it As I mentioned before, use targeted marketing Don’t waste your money on generic marketing You haven’t got the budget You are not going to be able to compete with The House With No Steps (laughs) or whoever else might come into the market

Communicate and upskill your workforce I mentioned that before Now, the really controversial one: understand your costs Invest now in IT systems Sorry, if there’s anyone one from MYOB; it won’t cut it

We threw it out We used to use it You can’t capture your indirect costs correctly using MYOB, so we upgraded and we have now combined our client management system with our financial system and that is essential What your support workers are doing needs to be captured and linked to your finance system, absolutely Now, if all that sounds too hard, as a small to medium provider consider merging or forming partnerships with complementary organisations

That way you can pool your resources with other like minded services and alliances or mergers can work with small providers, provided they do so with complementary organisations There’s a bit of food for thought, isn’t there? So, I will leave it there >> CHAIR: Please join me in thanking Anthony for his presentation We will hand it over for questions Okay we will take the one right at the back

can you just introduce yourself >> PARTICIPANT: Kerry Rolph, Avenues from Gympie Did you attempt mergers and what learning do you have for us from that process? >> ANTHONY: Not yet (laughs) But it is something that we have considered doing and we are considering doing The way we would like to do that is we are about increasing or doing things better for people with disability So if we can we have set up really good administrative process within our organisation and we are quite happy to share that with other organisations in our region

So we can see that a lot of the smaller ones are going to struggle and we are looking at potential mergers, primarily, so that they can survive because the smaller you are, the harder it’s to deal with all this admin stuff Obviously, there will be some other wins for us There’s one organisation that potentially we could get another location in an area where we are not currently in and things like that If you want to look at merger, there needs to be a win/win for both organisations One thing might be geography and another one might be extra admin capabilities, for example

As long as there’s a win/win situation, it will work Even though we haven’t merged or formed aligns as yet, other organisations in the region have It’s not just the small ones, either >> PARTICIPANT: My name is Bob Campbell, Holy Cross Laundry We are an Australian disability enterprise and our focus is on employment for people with disability

All the conversation I have heard about is more about lifestyle and helping people make choices and the like I haven’t heard anything about employment of people with disability Have you got any advice on how that has worked down there; whether it’s actually been implemented and how is the cost focus with that worked? >> ANTHONY: Unfortunately, we are not well, we don’t provide employment services ourselves I do know that it is an issue and I do know that they are still trying to address it One of the reasons why they chose us to go early is because we didn’t have any employment service, so there wasn’t anything that they needed to address in the short term

It is an issue that they are still struggling with and I don’t think they have got a solution in that yet There are organisations that have now transitioned that do have employment services but I think the employment service part of those orgs has not transitioned So, sorry, I can’t help you >> PARTICIPANT: I am Carla from Douglas Shire, Community Services, up north of Cairns You are saying that MYOB won’t cut it

What are you using? (Laughs) >> ANTHONY: Here’s another plug then We are actually using another product called (?) Simms Ability I should get commission now, shouldn’t I? (Laughs) It’s helpful

I wouldn’t say it is brilliant But for a small to medium sized organisation, we are using that in conjunction with the Nav [inaudible] financials, which is another add on to that and it links well And they are working with the NDIS people to make the billing easier, to do automatic uploads of your claims and things like that So they are one of the service providers, but I am sure there’s many others out there if you like to go and look at them and I’m certainly not saying you should go with Simms Ability necessarily >> PARTICIPANT: I am a small service provider on the Sunshine Coast

Just recently started up One of the things I am noticing is some of the medium sized organisations already have we have already got a few of those up here they are starting to form alliances together How has the larger organisations forming alliances together in your area affected you? >> ANTHONY: Not at all I see I am glad you asked that question because what I didn’t mention during my talk was: I see an absolutely definite future for small to medium service providers like us, and you guys, because we can provide the unique services and more individualised services than the larger organisations The larger organisations are trying to merge, to be able to compete against the for profits that are going to come in

They are going to need to do that because the for profits are going to come in and they are going to target the big ones The smaller providers like us, we need to find our own niche market, provide quality services, use your community links, do all those things that the for profits won’t be able to do, or the large providers won’t be able to do very successfully Be flexible, have a workforce that is going with you all in the same direction, that you are communicating well with; all the things that the larger providers don’t well, struggle with all the time You see it now; one of the biggest issues in large providers is the communication The frontline staff; and you work your way up, and the story changes four/five times before you get to the top

We don’t have that problem I have six managers that work for me and then we have frontline staff and that’s it And that way the communication is easy You can change your mind; you can be flexible; you can jump at things If a client comes in with a unique situation and every client is unique — if they come in with their own situation, we are not providing the service that they want from us, but we can tweak something that we currently do to provide it, then why not do that? So that’s where you want to be

You want to be in that quality space, providing unique services and then the larger providers won’t be able to compete with you >> PARTICIPANT: Michelle O’Flynn from Queensland Advocacy, so, yes, I’m not a service provider, so I feel like a small voice here I am also a parent of a young woman with an intellectual disability I have to say I am kind of perturbed at some of the direction or maybe my mind has leapt forward, where the NDIS has been in my mind a lot longer I would say that for me and my daughter and people I know with a disability who I have come in contact with through advocacy, would not be looking at service providers to say, or to come to them and say, “What can you do for me?” They would be approaching service providers to say, “I want to hire you for this and can you do it?” Most people would be saying, “I’m looking for coordination because I have already got my own staff

I am looking for community linking to generic services because, hey, I don’t want to do stuff in groups with people with disability any more And I may be looking for host provision of my money” So I am thinking that programs are not going to be as appealing to people And you said they are not necessarily profitable either In this debate about small to medium service providers, some of the best and most responsive service provision I have seen here in Queensland has been very, very small, 10 to 12 people supported

They have their own individualised funding and the only staff is the one coordinator I am thinking for the medium, maybe even larger service providers, is there any thought to breaking down the big infrastructure and having small family governed or person governed, geographically located services in neighbourhoods to service the people who live there by staff who live in the neighbourhood, who already have links, who know people in the community and that kind of thing? To me, I think that is the way of the future for the NDIS and service systems >> ANTHONY: Yep And there is a lot of that happening at well You said that very eloquently and that is fantastic

For people like you, the NDIS is going to work brilliantly in its current form Unfortunately, in the area that Leapfrog works in, we provide support to people with an intellectual disability often living in their own home, in their own home with support, that don’t have very good informal supports So they often come to us with a plan that they have got from NDIS and they can’t even read it; they don’t know what it means But in your situation, absolutely, I agree That’s where self managed funds is perfect because you can manage it yourself

You can engage your own staff or a small, four/five little community group if that’s what you want to do The only downside to that from the community group’s perspective is the administrative burden around the claiming and the NDIS processes Going forward, there’s going to be a whole lot of these different models that will work because and this is what I said at the beginning the NDIS is individual Everybody is different; everybody has their own ways that they want to work but also the way that they see the NDIS affecting their lives So I think there will be a lot of different models and that’s why there’s so much scope for the small and medium

>> PARTICIPANT: Phil from the YMCA in Bundaberg Just a quick question around the planners I come from a financial institution background, coming into community service, so it is a bit of a transition The thing that concerns me and I am wanting your observations: planners are now dealing with people’s funds, without any formal training or accreditation process, to actually formalise a plan with quite considerable funds, what training are these people getting apart from “you’re it, or you have had a few years experience or you may have a child or something with a disability” >> ANTHONY: I can’t speak for the NDIA too much the experience that I have had with them, they do get trained before they become a planner but obviously there’s no one there with five years’ planning experience

Part of the trial process over the three years is to create benchmarks, I suppose, or ranges of typical supports for a person with a typical disability So what they are trying to work towards is some sort of standard that all the planners can work towards So if you present as a paraplegic, for example, then this is the sort of things that you could get in your package, if that’s what you are after It becomes a bit more difficult with intellectual disabilities, because obviously they vary; the intensity varies and also there’s so many different types But that’s what they are trying to do

They are trying to say “for this type of functional deficiency, these are the sort of things and this is the amount of money that we think you are going to need to be able to provide that” But, once again, it falls back very much on the family or the person with a disability, themselves, to go to the planners and be very well prepared and say, “This is what I want” If you can go there and say, “This is what I want I want a new wheelchair, a $15,000 wheelchair, because this does this and this and this I need someone to come in and get me out of bed in the morning and shower me and I need this and that,” and it can all be costed and put in a plan

The plans that don’t work so well are where the people aren’t able to express their needs or don’t really haven’t got their head around the whole concept yet and that’s where disability advocacy needs to take a greater role; is really be promoted through that planning process and support people through that planning process; because we can as a provider do that, but the NDIA frown on it because they see it as a conflict of interest So they do allow us in where they deem it necessary but not always So if you can push that planning process and be very well versed and have a good plan going in, you get really good outcomes coming out As I said, a lot of the people that are going in, are not coming out necessarily with great plans They are being reviewed, but and this is part of the whole trial they are learning as they are going

They are becoming more consistent The initial plans were totally different to the ones that are coming out now So they are becoming more consistent and hopefully by the time we get to national roll out, there will be some more consistency >> PARTICIPANT: Joy from Mackay You said you underestimated your administration

How many administration people do you employ now? >> ANTHONY: It’s not so much administration, as in staff It is administration as in work around the plans and the unbillable work that goes into a client, which is being done more and more by our managers which is work that they wouldn’t have done in the past A lot of that and once again, I am trying not to be too negative because a lot of that is trial related We are always coming up against circumstances that have not really been tested yet So we get a person with a situation that gets a plan and it’s not right, and then we have to go back and work with the planner to fix it up

Now, those sorts of things won’t happen going forward because the plans should become a lot more consistent as the planners become more consistent going forward But at the moment it is just that re visiting all the time that’s creating a lot more administrative work, that’s hurting us But, again, that’s one of the problems with being in the trial The plan is to try and obviously make that less of a burden for us Long term, once we get over the trial phase, the two positions that we put in the management accountant and the client liaison officer I will that will be it

They would be the two that will suit our needs I don’t think we will need anyone else >> PARTICIPANT: So you don’t have a receptionist or an admin person that does the photocopying, the filing, all that sort of stuff? >> ANTHONY: Well, we do, but we haven’t added any more since we have gone with the NDIS, yeah >> FACILITATOR: Probably need to be our last question >> PARTICIPANT: Jennifer from FSG Australia

Can you give an example of a person who was a service user or participant prior to your trial and the actual transition of how that person is now becoming your customer; what actually happened? >> ANTHONY: Once again, it varies significantly I will give you two examples because they are quite different One is, as I said, we do drop in support for people with an intellectual disability, who live independently So these people have no informal supports You may have heard of the Stockton Centre

Two of them are actually ex Stockton Centre and have been put in a home of their own They were deemed, like, with support that they could live on their own So they are living there with our support, probably 40/50 hours a week, in their home But it’s not a group home because we don’t stay overnight The way they transitioned was: we sat down with them and mapped out what currently their life looks like on a weekly basis, time, hour by hour; and what supports we provided to them and what other things they did

Like, they would have a day program they went to and they did this/that We mapped all that out on a weekly timetable And then we went with them to the planner to have their plans assessed Now, the planner went through all the questions that the planners goes through; came up with a plan No surprise, very similar to the one that we had already mapped out, and basically just costed that out

Now, because they are obviously not capable of managing the plan themselves, the NDIA are managing the plan for them and we just bill our services now on a weekly basis for the supports that we provide We bill through the NDIS portal for those clients So that’s one example The other example is respite provision, where historically we would havea family might have a respite package of $4000 a year We might administer it for them and organise the respite for them We were the fund holders We did all the organising of the respite

We planned it We made sure that they didn’t overspend and all this sort of thing We communicated with them throughout the year In the new environment, they would get an NDIA plan for $4000, say, for a respite effect, because there’s no such thing as “respite” in the NDIS world it’s framed, it’s about the participant, so whatever the participant is doing, is how it’s worded in the plan but that would have a respite effect for the family

And they would either manage that themselves or the planner would manage that for them We would either, if they wanted to pay us to organise it they would, but they would probably just go direct to a provider of their choice that they had and just engage them directly And the provider would claim through the NDIA >> CHAIR: Thank you, Anthony, so much, for your openness and willingness to share that information with us It certainly helps us get prepared

So thank you very much