When is a Good Time to Register with the NDIS?

Cécile Caminade

Written on 30 May, 2022
apply for ndis registration
If you’re running a small-to-medium-sized business providing services or support for people with disability, you may be wondering whether you should apply for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) registration.

There are many benefits to becoming NDIS registered, but the process is also lengthy and costly. The right time to register will depend on many factors, such as your business goals and the types of service you deliver.

Here, we look at when might be a good time to start the registration process and how to tell if this is the right choice for your business.

Do I have to register?

The first thing to note is that you may have no choice but to register if you provide specific services to NDIS participants. You must be registered if you:

  • Provide specialist disability accommodation

  • Develop behaviour support plans

  • Use restrictive practices

  • Deliver services or support through the government-funded Disability Support for Older Australians (DSOA) Program (unless you have a written exemption)

  • Deliver supports and services to NDIS participants who have their plan managed by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

If you’re not planning to deliver these services or work with NDIA-managed participants, you can choose whether or not to register.

What are the benefits of registering with the NDIS?

The next thing to consider is whether the benefits of NDIS registration make it worthwhile to go through the process now or at some time in the future.

The main advantages of registration include:

Credibility and trust

Registering with the NDIS requires you to meet a stringent set of quality and safety standards set out by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. This adds significant credibility to your business by assuring NDIS participants that you have met these standards. It also allows you to advertise as an NDIS registered provider.

Access to a larger client base

You will be able to offer support and services to all NDIS participants, including those who have their plans managed by the NDIA.

Access to more tools and services

Registered providers have access to a range of NDIS training tools and resources. They are also kept in the loop about updates and information relating to scheme or process changes.

Payment via the NDIS

Registered providers can request for payment to be made directly from a participant’s plan via the NDIS portal. This means your client interactions don’t have to include payment processing but can be kept to delivering services and support.

Are there any downsides of registering with the NDIS?

The other side of the equation involves considering potential downsides to NDIS registration, and whether they offset the benefits enough to put off registration or choose to remain unregistered.

Downsides of registering with the NDIS may include:

The time and effort involved in meeting registration requirements

Registering with the NDIS is a time-consuming process that requires you to jump through a lot of hoops. These include:

Meeting registration conditions – such as demonstrating that you:

Your staff must also complete the Quality, Safety and You e-learning module, which covers human rights and the roles and responsibilities of NDIS workers.

Passing a suitability assessment – the NDIS Commission assesses whether providers and their key staff are suited to deliver NDIS services and supports. For example, they will look at whether you’ve had any prior convictions, insolvencies, or adverse findings by relevant authorities, among others.

Undergoing auditing – to achieve NDIS registration, you must first undergo an audit. This involves engaging an independent approved quality auditor to assess your business against elements of the NDIS Practice Standards relevant to the services and supports you deliver.

Providers delivering services and supports considered to be lower risk or less complex will usually be required to undergo a verification audit. This involves a desktop review of the required documentation. Providers delivering more complex or higher risk services and supports need to undergo a certification audit, which involve site visits, documentation reviews, and interviews with your NDIS participants and staff.

Learn more about NDIS provider registration requirements at the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.

Cost

In addition to the time and energy involved in meeting NDIS registration requirements, you also need to consider what it will cost your business. As well as your own time, factor in expenses associated with engaging staff within or outside your organisation to assist with the process, and staff training to meet registration requirements. You will also need to pay the auditor, which typically costs into the thousands.

Ongoing commitment

Importantly, NDIS registration isn’t simply a one-off activity. Once you’re approved, you’ll need to continue meeting the obligations required of an NDIS-registered provider, such as the NDIS Code of Conduct, mandatory worker screening, complaints handling and incident reporting.

Registration lasts for three years, and you’ll need to complete a new self-assessment and undergo an external audit during each registration cycle.

Some questions to help you decide whether you’re ready to register with the NDIS

Clearly, there are pros and cons to becoming an NDIS registered provider. Here are some questions to help you decide whether to take the step now, do it later, or continue operating as an unregistered provider indefinitely.

  • Do any of the conditions that necessitate registration apply to your business?

  • Do the benefits of NDIS registration outweigh the potential downsides for your business right now, or vice versa?

  • Do you hope to grow your business now or in the future? If so, registering will allow you to see NDIS participants managed under the NDIA. If you’d prefer to keep your business boutique and local, you might prefer to remain unregistered.

  • Can you finance the NDIS registration process, or raise those funds sometime in the future?

  • Is NDIS registration a top priority for investment right now, or do you need to invest in other things first, such as more staff or new equipment?

  • Do you meet the registration criteria, or have the ability to meet them in future?

  • Do you or your staff currently have the capacity to gather necessary documentation and complete the application process, or can you bring someone in to help with this?

For many businesses, documentation can be a barrier to registering or renewing with the NDIS. To make this easier, ShiftCare has been custom-built with features that assist you to manage care, record rosters and stay compliant.

Features such as logs for progress notes and client goals, itemised client billing, and certification expiry tracking can make it easier to fulfil documentation requirements and meet NDIS standards.  Once you’re approved, ShiftCare can also help with making bulk NDIS claims through PRODA.

We’ve helped hundreds of NDIS providers to build sustainable and profitable disability service and support businesses. Start your 7-day free trial to see how ShiftCare can help you to do the same.

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