Posted by: Espyconnect Blogger on 03/07/2017

What is Coordination of Supports? - Part One

When NDIS began its full roll out in July 2016 a new item appeared on plans – Coordination of Supports. This week we explore exactly what the Coordinator of Supports ( or Support Coordination) is all about and what they can offer.  Some espyconnect members have been kind enough to share their CoS service information with us too and we will be bringing those stories to you across the week.


How did Coordination of supports come about?


In July 2016 NDIS plans started to look a lot different to the ones that we had seen during the trial. Rather than funding very specifically to individual line items, plans began to show lump sums allocated against the three support categories (Core, Capacity Building and Capital) and that funding could be used with much more flexibility than before. 

On the one hand this meant that if things changed across the year, or a person changed their minds about how they wanted to use their funding there was less need to ask for a formal plan review. But on the other hand, when the plan first arrives it can be almost impossible to work out what funding has been allocated to different things, let alone make decisions about who will provide your services.

This is where Coordination of Supports comes in.


What does a Coordinator of Supports do?


The role of the Coordinator of Supports, within the NDIS documentation that we have been able to find is to:

  • Support the implementation of the Plan including informal, mainstream and community as well as funded supports
  • Strengthen and enhance the participants abilities to coordinate supports and participate in the community
  • Ensure mainstream supports meet their obligations, eg housing, education, justice, health
  • Build capacity of the participant to achieve greater independence to self-direct services and supports in the longer term
  • Provide the NDIA with reports on outcomes and success indicators

Most CoS workers tell us that they spend quite a bit of time helping a person to figure out their budget - how they can split their funding across the different areas of support that they are looking for to make sure that it lasts across the whole year. They also try to reserve enough CoS funding to make sure that they can support the person (if they want it) when it's time to review the plan.


The Three Levels of Coordination of Support

There are three levels of Coordination of Support:

Level one – Support Connection

This level is intended as a light touch style of support – to help a person get their plan started, connect with mainstream and funded supports and to support the person to learn to manage their plan. In many states the Local Area Coordinators have been funded to provide Support Connection type services. It may not appear as a separate item on the Plan.

Level Two – Support Coordination

This level of CoS will appear on a Plan as a separately funded item.

The Support Coordinator will help with the things listed above in the Support Connection category and will also help to address any barriers to participation and support people to resolve service delivery issues. They will be much more active with supporting a person’s management and adjustment of how their plan is used, assist with crisis resolution and support management of multiple complex supports.

Level three – Specialist Coordination of Supports

This level of CoS will also appear as a separately funded item and is funded at a higher rate.

This level of support includes everything already listed in levels one and two and has been created to support in those situations where a specialist may be required due to increased risk in the person’s story. The CoS will focus on addressing barriers and reducing complexity in the support environment while assisting the Participant to connect with supports and build capacity and resilience.

This level of CoS is usually funded on a very short term basis.


Connecting with a CoS

We are hearing that in many cases once the Plan is approved a Participant may be asked whether they already have someone who they would like to use as their CoS and if not then the NDIA will connect them with a provider.

Many non-government organisations as well as private businesses offer Coordination of Supports.

Remember that just like other providers you have choice about who you use as your Coordinator of Supports. 


IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR PROVIDERS:

Here at espyconnect we are building our listings as quickly as we can. We are adding hundreds of new listings every week. Coordination of Supports is our most requested service and we regularly receive phone calls and messages from people asking us for support to connect. We can only provide the information for the providers who we can see in our directory. If you are a provider of Coordination of Supports and want to be in the espyconnect directory please make sure that your espyconnect listing is up to date – we have recently made some changes which will make you even easier to find. Every provider is gifted with one free listing. Please contact us here if you would like to be added or need some help to modify your listing.


CoS and Financial Intermediary / Plan Manager

These two services are different. A Plan Managers job is to manage the Plan funding for the Participant. The Plan Manager will pay providers and monitor the spending of the Plan. Having a Plan Manager provides all of the advantages of self-management – choosing anyone to provide services even if they are not registered with NDIA – and even more flexibility in how the funding is used – without the pressure of having to navigate the Portal and deal with payment of providers. 

If you want to use a Plan Manager you will need to request that when you have your planning meeting with NDIA or your LAC. Funds are added to your Plan to cover the costs of the Plan Manager.


What qualifications / training does a CoS have to have?

This depends on the level of Support Coordination that has been funded.

NDIA have not been specific about the qualifications that they expect from Level One and Level Two CoS workers. We hear that there are a range of skills and experiences amongst these workers, some have a long history of working in the sector in different roles and some are moving over from completely unrelated careers. The skills that you might look for in your CoS is a clear commitment to working in a person centred model, good listening skills, a commitment to enabling choice and a great knowledge of how the NDIS and the disability and mental health sectors work as well as a focus on participation and inclusion within community and 'mainstream' activities.

Break Thru, an espyconnect member who are offering the only training that we have been able to find in the Level one and two Coordination of Supports area tell us that their upcoming courses are full and they are becoming more and more in demand. We will be bringing you more information about this course in the next few days.

Level Three CoS requires the worker to have a specialist qualification. This level is funded at the same level as Allied Health so it can be assumed that it is expected that these workers have a University degree in Social Work or a similar qualification.


Conflict of Interest

One of the main jobs that the CoS worker has is to connect people with providers. Many large providers have a CoS service as well as a range of other services. The CoS must support the person to find out about a range of possible options of providers, which can include their own and must support the person in whatever their choice might be. Remember that you can check espyconnect at any time to see a range of providers. We are adding several hundred new providers every week and trying our best to bring you true choice and control in the form of viewing all available providers in your area. If you happen to try a search which doesn't get you any results please contact us here and we will do our best to support you to connect with a provider.

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