For Carers Queensland it is the “people first” approach when it comes to navigating the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“We have an important facilitation role to ensure participants get the supports that are right for them,” general manager, Jocelyn Wills told F2L. “To help them have choice and control, how to utilise their plan or funded supports they receive, as well as assisting with decisions around connecting with their community so they are familiar with the scheme and ultimately what they would like their lives to look like.”
The NDIS is now in its third year and the organisation is seeing people’s experience with the NDIS go from strength to strength, she said. Wills acknowledged there were challenges with the scheme but staff were well aware of the complexities and trained to deliver the best possible support so people received all the benefits they were entitled to.
“We see the role of a local area coordinator (LAC) is to make it easier for people to access the scheme, achieve their goals and bring their plans to life. Our experience generally is that a very high percentage of our clients are satisfied with the services our LAC program provides. I think the difficulty arises if someone has an experience where their plan is not where they hoped it would be, but overall we find the NDIS is achieving fantastic outcomes for people with disability and their families. Carers Queensland provide support to people who don’t feel their plan meets their needs including explaining the flexibility of the plan, providing options, ideas and solutions about using their plan, and ultimately ensuring that people are aware of their right to a review of the plan if required.
“What we are seeing, particularly in areas such as Toowoomba and Ipswich where people are going in to their third plan is that outcomes for people with disability, their families and the broader community, is improving through innovation, exploring new ideas and becoming familiar with what the NDIS can offer and achieve,” she said.
“Each person’s individual experience is very important to us and we try to make it a positive one. We are lucky we recruit well and 40 per cent of our staff has a ‘lived experience’ with disability. I think it is important to make sure staff reflects the community they work in which is vital when it comes to employing the right people, who understand the role and what is required. We know how critical it is to put the effort in upfront.” There are currently over 500 staff working in the LAC program with Carers Queensland.
Asked about mentoring, Wills said training was in place to ensure to LACs are getting support with a number of senior LACs providing mentoring and support to LACs. This includes practice discussions, information about disability that is specific to their roles, reviewing plans, supporting staff in planning conversations and doing quality checks. Additionally there are nine in-house trainers providing ongoing group and individual learning opportunities for all staff.
“We are investing heavily in training disability and community specific training to ensure we have well qualified experienced staff undertaking these important roles.”
As of March 31, 2019 there were 46,036 people benefiting from the scheme in South East Queensland including 12,274 receiving support for the first time and 2,949 children supported by the Early Childhood Early Intervention program. About 30 per cent more Queenslanders will be getting support from Carers Queensland from the NDIS than support from the previous system, Wills said.
As well as Toowoomba and Ipswich, Carers Queensland covers the Gold Coast, Beenleigh, Brisbane, Moreton Bay (Strathpine, Redcliffe and Caboolture areas) the Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton.
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