Understanding the Role of a Support Coordinator in the NDIS

Asha Neil

Written on 22 February, 2023
A support coordinator plays a valuable role in ensuring NDIS participants can access all the support they're entitled to. However, there are varying levels of support coordination.

Keep reading to discover what a support coordinator does, what the three different levels of support coordination are and how support coordination is funded. We'll also break down the differences between a support coordinator, a specialist support coordinator and a plan manager.

What Is NDIS Support Coordination?

NDIS support coordination is capacity building support. Its objective is to assist participants in accessing support services. In particular, it serves to:

  • Help participants understand their NDIS plan and use it to support their goals

  • Connect participants with NDIS support providers and other sources of support, such as the local community and government assistance

  • Build participants' skills and confidence in navigating the NDIS support system

What Is NDIS Specialist Support Coordination?

There are three levels of NDIS support coordination: support connection, support coordination and specialist support coordination.

Support connection helps participants develop the skills required to connect with supports so that they can achieve their goals.

Support coordination is a higher level of support. The support coordinator will help participants understand and use their NDIS plan. They will work alongside participants to ensure they are accessing a variety of supports.

Specialist support coordination is the highest possible level of support coordination. It’s available for participants who face complex barriers in accessing and maintaining the supports they're entitled to. 

A specialist support coordinator works with participants to ensure constant support delivery. They also assist participants in managing the challenges in their support environment.

Support Coordination vs Plan Management: What's the Difference?

Support coordination is often confused with NDIS plan management. Both plan managers and support coordinators work with participants to ensure they receive all the support they're entitled to as per their NDIS plan. However, there are important differences.

NDIS plan management assists participants in managing their plan funding. It includes support in understanding the funds they’ve been allocated, paying providers and increasing participants’ financial management skills.

Support coordination, however, is for participants who face additional challenges in accessing their supports on their own. It's also designed to help participants develop their skills so that they may one day be able to access their own supports without assistance.

How Is NDIS Support Coordination Funded?

NDIS support coordination funding is part of the participant's capacity building funds. The amount of funding provided can vary, however. This is because it's based on what is considered "reasonable and necessary". It takes into account both the participant's current abilities and the informal support that's provided by their family and friends.

Although funding amounts can vary from participant to participant, NDIS support coordination funds are typically fixed amounts. This means participants can only spend up to this specific amount on accessing support coordination.

What Does an NDIS Support Coordinator Do?

A support coordinator's role is a varied one. However, the NDIS considers a support coordinator's duties to include:

  • Helping participants understand their NDIS plan

  • Working with participants to plan and coordinate their supports

  • Connecting participants with supports and services

  • Establishing and maintaining supports

  • Setting up service agreements and service bookings

  • Understanding what support providers can and cannot charge for

  • Anticipating barriers to accessing support and creating plans to tackle these

  • Coaching participants on accessing supports

  • Providing the NDIA with reports

  • Coordinating with participants, their support workers and their family members to help participants exercise choice over their supports

  • Supporting participants in finding ways to be more independent

  • Planning for unexpected events, such as moving homes, changes in family support levels and unexpected hospital visits

  • Creating plans to help participants avoid and/or mitigate crisis situations

  • Submitting requests for plan reassessments

  • Using the participant's preferred language and communication method

Participants should participate in their own support coordination. It is a support coordinator's job to help them express their preferences and make decisions. A good support coordinator understands that their role is to empower participants to express agency rather than to make decisions for them.

What Additional Responsibilities Does a Specialist Support Coordinator Have?

Specialist support coordinators have similar duties to a standard support coordinator, from helping participants access informal and funded supports to reviewing service agreements. 

However, a specialist support coordinator's role also includes helping participants address complex barriers. This includes understanding the challenges a participant may face, finding potential solutions and setting up a process to overcome them.

The NDIS stresses that although specialist support coordinators should assist participants in addressing complex barriers, specialist support coordination should not be confused with disability advocacy. A specialist support coordinator should instead connect the participant with a formal disability advocacy service.

Specialist support coordinators may also assist participants in designing a service plan for their specific support needs. This can involve working with the participant, their family and their support workers to ensure that everyone understands how to communicate and cooperate so that the participant can achieve their goals.

Software That Supports NDIS Support Coordinators

A support coordinator plays a vital role in ensuring that people with disability can access all the supports they're entitled to, from funded supports to informal community services.

ShiftCare's care management software enables NDIS providers, plan managers and support coordinators to provide effective and person-centric services. Its support coordination features will help you plan and track funds spending while also staying on top of clients' progress. You can quickly share updates with clients in-platform. And, it features a built-in NDIS price guide and bulk NDIS claims process.

Discover how the right tools will help you provide excellent support coordination. Try ShiftCare for free.

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