What makes a great Support Coordinator?

Tim McNamara

How can I become a great support coordinator?

More NDIS participants than ever are experiencing the benefits of engaging a Support Coordinator to help them with the management of their providers and services. The NDIS is a complex and evolving system with its own language that a good support coordinator can translate into actions designed to meet a participant’s needs and goals.

While there are also many technical skills behind a great Support Coordinator, a big part of their role is having the tenacity and lateral thinking to overcome obstacles that arise in a participant’s NDIS journey. When others think something is too complicated, a great Support Coordinator is the person who says, “let’s work together to get through this”.

I’m looking for a Support Coordinator, what questions should I ask them first?

As your expert manager of the NDIS, the Support Coordinator you choose to engage should not only have a thorough knowledge of the NDIS and local provider landscape. They should also make you feel comfortable, heard and in charge of the goals and expectations you have for Support Coordination services.

We recommend sitting down with the Support Coordinators you shortlist and asking them some questions to better understand how they intend to improve your NDIS services:

  • How well do you know the National Disability Insurance Agency’s systems and requirements?
  • Have you worked with people with similar goals, interests, disability type and support needs to me before?
  • How well do you know the supports and services in my local area, and the providers and services that I’m thinking of using?
  • How do you organise, plan, and prioritise your Support Coordination activities?
  • Are you able to provide some examples of the successes you have had helping people reach their goals?
  • These are my goals - What ideas do you have around how we would achieve them?
  • How do you make your referrals?
  • What if I am not happy with one of the services you refer me to?
  • How many participants are you working with right now?
  • How do you charge for and keep track of your time?
  • What is the quickest way to contact you? 
  • Do you attend workshops/professional development?

Great Support Coordinators invest in ongoing education and training

Good Support Coordinators would be surprised at the limited practical training offered by some providers. The advantage of an intensive training course is that you get an up-to-date look into NDIS processes and a broad understanding of support coordination by educators who have been involved in the NDIS from the beginning.

Due to the constant changes to the NDIS rules and processes, Support Coordinators need to be aware of these changes and understand how they impact on the sector as a whole in order to continue to deliver high quality services. Therefore, it is important that independent and large organisations remain connected to their local community and peer support networks, and continue to offer professional development opportunities to all of their staff.

New Support Coordinators especially should be looking for peer and mentorship connections to familiarise themselves with complex areas of support coordination. Short courses have several benefits which make them a valuable addition to existing forms of Support Coordinator training, including:

  • accessibility – these shorter, less expensive courses help workers who are short on time to undertake essential training and fit it around other commitments
  • adaptability – training for a broad range of skills and roles allows workers to choose training that is tailored to their specific needs
  • responsiveness – shorter coursers offer greater flexibility in course development to respond to industry needs.

Support Coordination Academy’s Fundamentals workshop is great for new Support Coordinators and those aspiring to enter the role as it will truly help you to understand what it takes to be a great Support Coordinator and how to achieve great outcomes. 

Great Support Coordinators are effective communicators

How does a Support Coordinator build a participant’s ability to make informed decisions and choices about their disability supports? The most important step in the Support Coordination journey is getting to know the Participant, their interests, and their goals. 

Effective communication underpins the rights of people with disabilities to have choice and control, and to make decisions about their own lives.

Great Support Coordinators use technology to plan and track meetings and participant goals

Goal setting and tracking are fundamental in assisting participants to achieve their goals.  A good Support Coordinator’s aim is to provide participants with a range of choices and possibilities to help them to achieve these goals.

With a participant’s guidance, a great Support Coordinator will:

  • assess several providers, including mainstream, community and informal options available
  • provide advice and support on how to negotiate services, understand the price guide (what fees are reasonable) and what constitutes a fair service agreement
  • arrange assessments if required to determine the nature and type of funding necessary

Instead of relying on ad hoc and reactive meetings with participants, good Support Coordinators take the time to plan and facilitate regular check-ins. This planned approach allows time for the participant to prepare, update their information, check goal progress, and deal with any service issues before they become at risk of breaking down.

Support Coordination Software is a priceless asset for Support Coordinators to manage their caseloads and keep on top of participant needs.

Support Coordinators follow the NDIS Code of Conduct and provide information about the rights of the participant

The NDIS Code of Conduct was introduced for workers under the National Disability Insurance Scheme to ensure the safety and wellbeing of people with disability.

In providing supports or services to people with disability, a great Support Coordinator acts as a safeguard by applying the  Code of Conduct, this includes ensuring they:

  • act with respect for individual rights to freedom of expression, self-determination and decision-making in accordance with applicable laws and conventions
  • respect the privacy of people with disability
  • provide supports and services in a safe and competent manner, with care and skill
  • act with integrity, honesty and transparency
  • promptly take steps to raise and act on concerns about matters that may impact the quality and safety of supports and services provided to people with disability
  • take all reasonable steps to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against, and exploitation, neglect and abuse of, people with disability
  • take all reasonable steps to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct.

Some NDIS participants have never been informed in plain and easy to understand language about their rights, and you may be the first person to explore those rights with them.

By providing the right environment for participants to understand their rights, a great Support Coordinator can enable a participant to improve their ability to self-advocate and to increase their overall independence and decision-making capacity.

To learn more about what it takes to become a great Support Coordinator, Contact us for more information about professional development courses and Support Coordination Software.

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