11 tips to maximise NDIS funding and support hours

September 13th, 2023

As a plan manager, we’ve seen all kinds of issues that cause participants to burn through their funding faster than expected. This results in them seeing less value from the NDIS which in turn has a negative impact on their quality of life.

To help participants get the best possible results from their NDIS funding, we’ve compiled a list of the most commonly used and highly effective tips and tricks they can deploy to maximise their funds and support hours.

Here’s our list of 11 NDIS funding hacks:

1. Avoid Telling New Providers You’re an NDIS Participant

Maximum prices listed in the NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits don’t reflect market rates and providers should really only charge above market with good reason.

Unfortunately, some providers continue to charge well above market rates, or even using the maximum price as their default whenever they work with NDIS participants.

While the government has indicated that this is a problem, until further reforms are introduced to target this practice, we recommend participants ask for a quote and confirm a price for that support without telling new providers they’re backed by an NDIS Plan.

Doing so will mean the participant is most likely to receive the provider’s set market rate, rather than a rate that’s adjusted upwards.

2. Go Local

Choosing providers that are nearby helps minimise and in some cases eliminate travel and transport costs, which can have a huge impact on a participants funding and in some cases costs more than the support provided.

Even better, supporting local providers means investing in the local community, which can return additional benefits to participants in the form of social connections.

3. Check Providers are Splitting Transport Costs Between Participants

If a support provider is charging for travel and transport costs for multiple participants, then they should be splitting those costs proportionally between them.

For example, if a support requires transport for five participants to attend an activity and then be returned home afterwards, the entire cost of the trip should be shared between those five participants.

Checking to see how providers are charging for travel and transport is an important way to make sure participants aren’t getting overcharged.

4. Be Aware of ‘Hidden’ Extra Fees

An issue we’ve seen cropping up more and more of late, which tends to occur when a participant books their supports through an online platform.

Online platforms like Mable charge a service fee (which can be up to 10% on top of the cost of the support itself), and if this fee isn’t taken into consideration from the outset, participants can find themselves overspending their budget as well as exceeding the NDIA’s guidance on pricing limits.

Ideally, the support provider and booking platform should be working together to make sure this doesn’t happen.

5. But Using Platforms Can Help You Save

A good way of avoiding extra fees charged by agencies, which will sometimes almost double the hourly cost, is to use digital platforms.

Using a digital platform means less admin, as all costs are bundled into a single hourly rate, avoiding the business administration costs of being a direct employer.

In these situations, it makes sense for participants to find out what the industry award rates are for the types of worker they’re hiring, before shopping around to uncover which rates are considered reasonable for their specific location and situation.

By comparison, agencies mostly pay the award rate to their staff. There are however, other benefits that may make the premium hourly cost worthwhile over going direct, including:

  • Guarantees on training, and validation of qualifications and experience
  • Occupational health and safety standards
  • Sick cover
  • Management oversight

6. Share Supports with Other Participants

Depending on the type of support provider, the participants’ situation and how social they are, it may be possible to find ways of sharing the costs associated with some providers.

There are lots of activities that can be undertaken as a group and, in many cases, group activities are more rewarding, too.

When more than one participant is accessing the same support provider, transportation costs may also be shared between them.

7. Avoid Provider Travel Costs by Going to Them

It may seem more convenient to have a support provider go out to the participant and provide services at their home, but this is often a more expensive practice.

For participants who are confident, mobile and willing to head out and meet their providers at their place of work, they should consider doing so to avoid provider travel costs to their NDIS Plan.

8. Get the Most from Capacity Building

Therapy options funded through the Capacity Building Supports budget can help participants in becoming more independent and less reliant on ongoing supports charged from other areas of their Plan.

This budget also includes funding categories for supports like assistant physiotherapists to be engaged at a much lower rate than a regular physio. Participants should consider how to use these funding categories to further enhance the value received in their Plan.

9. Don’t Forget Informal Supports

Family, friends and other members of a participant’s community are invaluable when it comes to providing ongoing support.

Building and maintaining social connections are a key way to ensure an NDIS Plan will be effective in the long run.

Whether it’s an impromptu lift to the shops, lending a hand around the house or assistance in navigating a new online platform, trusted friends and family help participants get more out of life than the NDIS can reliably deliver on its own.

10. Work with Quality Supports for Longer

When a participant is happy with the quality of service they’re receiving, then they should want to keep them for as long as possible.

For participants who have great support workers, keep them! Do this by extending care hours and providing a stable and reliable income backed by longer terms in their service agreements.

If a support worker isn’t getting enough work from one participant, they are likely to move on as soon as they’re offered a better deal elsewhere.

It probably doesn’t make sense to agree to terms that last longer than the length of a participant’s Plan, setting terms that last for a year or longer will generate more value than churning through providers at a rate of knots.

Read our article on tips for attracting and keeping quality carers for more advice.

11. Check All Invoices and Receipts

Finally, spending a small amount of time checking invoices and receipts to confirm they’re accurate can save participants time and funding should mistakes occur.

If participants believe they’ve been overcharged for a support, or if they’re not sure they’re receiving value for the money spent in their NDIS funding, we recommend they seek a resolution from their support provider. In these situations it’s important to have a record of the services provided and costs involved.

Ross McDonald

Ross founded Capital Guardians in 2008. The original residential care payments business took around 7 years to establish itself when home care and NDIS payments were added as government changed spending from provider directed goals to consumer directed goals. Ross's previous career included PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Spotless Group, Sensis, Benetas (CFO) and MYOB (CFO).

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