How to navigate the unclear horizon for service providers

There’s a new dawn for disability care in Australia, but the horizon remains unclear for service providers.

The Quality and Safeguarding Framework (QSF) will eventually yield a nationally consistent set of standards governing the procurement and provision of services funded by the NDIS. But it is still a work in progress, with many of its components under review.

Providers in New South Wales and South Australia, where the QSF has initially rolled out on 1 July, are transitioning over from state and NDIA registration. They are now answerable to the Quality and Safeguards Commission (the other states and territories will follow later), which has taken on many of the regulatory responsibilities of the NDIA.

 
 Service providers are set to face an ever-changing landscape for NDIS registration and compliance. Image courtesy of Centro ASSIST June 2018

Service providers are set to face an ever-changing landscape for NDIS registration and compliance. Image courtesy of Centro ASSIST June 2018

 

What’s in the regulatory pipeline?

Beyond registration, which is well-defined by the QSF, the regulatory picture for providers is far less clear.

In May, the commission released draft versions of seven guidelines for public consultation. The window for feedback closed in June and the policies were put under review by the commission.

The commission has yet to announce expected timelines for adopting these guidelines and whether they’ll become policy. Its latest feedback is: “These guidelines will continue to develop in light of feedback and the experience of the NDIS Commission in administering the NDIS rules.”

These policy documents are:

  • reportable incidents guidance – setting out to service providers the definition for determining whether an incident is reportable, how to respond and how to report it to the commission;
  • incident management system guidance – the process that providers must follow to identify, manage and resolve an incident;
  • effective complaint handling guidelines for NDIS providers – how providers should implement effective complaints management processes, and readily provide information on them to third-parties;
  • complaints management and resolution guidance – the NDIS’ principles and procedures for managing and resolving complaints about service providers;
  • code of conduct guidance for workers –  the standard of professional behaviour expected of anyone providing care services, not only in regards to safety and competence, but also attitude towards participants;
  • code of conduct guidance for service providers – covering the standards expected of a provider in regards to safety, competence and attitude towards participants, as well as the support and guidance they give to ensure their workers meet these standards; and
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (procedural fairness) guidelines 2018 – the rules that apply when a complaint or allegation is made to the commission about a provider.

Each of these policies and processes will apply to all providers of NDIS-funded services, whether or not they are registered with the NDIS.

To read more, see the article written for Pro Bono by our CEO Bruce Nixon below.


Julie WuQSF