The impact of the NDIS on service providers

5 Key challenges for service providers under the NDIS

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a highly complex and hugely significant social reform. After three years of trials, the NDIS began its roll out in Victoria and is now well under the way in Queensland, one of the largest states with registered participants. The NDIS was brought to life after continuous calls for a better system that more widely and thoroughly advocates and supports some of Australia’s most vulnerable people. For providers, the key to success to thrive under the NDIS starts with recognising how the reform impacts their organisation. We’ve outlined 5 key challenges services providers will face under the NDIS.

1. Block funding to Individual funding

The shift from a grant based model to consumer model is one of the most significant changes impacting providers. Before the NDIS, most disability services received block funding from governments to provide fairly standardised services to people who matched their criteria.

For providers, it means a big cultural and work process shift from determining service funding to consideration of overheads, cost of delivery, marketing presence and work efficiency. For participants, the change allows them to prioritise their best interests and identify the corresponding support options that will have the greatest positive change on their life.

As the market has shifted power to the participants the key question for providers is: why should participants choose you?

2. Customer centric universe

The internet has been a driving force in ushering in a shift from an organisation service delivery to a customer-centric one. The biggest lesson many organisations will learn from the NDIS roll out is that your current work processes and service delivery model will be crucial in getting participants to work with you.

A customer centric universe is not predictable and therefore has less certainty. At the centre of each service is a customer who has demands and expectations. If working with your organisation is too complex, in areas such as communication, gaining information, signing up or process transparency, customers will likely move to an organisation which they better understand and feel comfortable with.

3. Greater level of presence and engagement required

Years ago, a personal email would be sufficient to connect with a potential participant and provide detailed information on your services. The web now has ushered in new ways of communicating, finding and sharing services which has eliminated the need for blind trust and loyalty.

Under the NDIS, participants will be actively looking for providers. Organisations will be judged on word-of-mouth, what current and past clients say about their products and services, how organisations engage with customers and the value adds provided if they choose you. Essentially, the majority of potential customers will be actively researching all aspects of your organisation. That is why it is not only necessary to have a digital presence but a robust marketing and engagement plan that provides easy access to information about you can support them in reaching their life goals.

4. Product and Service re-alignment

Under the NDIS, each participant will work with a Local Area Coordination (LAC) partner to determine which support categories and service types would suit that individual participant. From there the participant is free to shop around for providers that that meet their expectations.

The introduction of individual assessment means, provides a great opportunity for providers to assess their current services and products and re-fit in these support categories. Doing so will help you plan how to market your products and services to the right participants and may even help you improve your services as each support category services an end goal for participants. From a provider perspective, the key question to ask is ‘How does our product and services support participants [in their daily life/to get around/participate in the community etc.].

5. NDIS Pricing Model

One of the major and contentious changes is the NDIS pricing model. Moving from a grant based model to a consumer model is not an easy transition. The introduction of mandated pricing limits on the cost per hour will prove difficult to adjust to.

For many, there is just cause for concern. Reports have identified that in a year’s time, many service providers will either be non-existent or merged with other providers. To ensure survival and sustainable growth, service providers need to evaluate the cost of delivery against the number of participants your organisation expects to provide services to. In simple terms, providers will need to know ‘What it costs to deliver service A to client B?.’

While the majority of industry supports and advocates for the outcomes the NDIS aims to achieve and for the success of the NDIS, service providers need to advocate and re-evaluate their resources, operations and marketing practices to make sure they can effectively respond to the needs of participants under the scheme.

These are just some of the main challenges providers will have to consider in preparing for the NDIS. Keep a look out for our blog as we will continue to provide tips and advice for NDIS service providers on how to improve their customer experience and service delivery so it will  thrive under the NDIS. If you would like specific advice, contact our expert consultants for more information.