July 1st, 2019; the next NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission changes roll out in Queensland
Are you and your business ready for the changes about to be implemented to the new Quality Safeguard Framework? In preparation to help you adjust with ease, we have identified top 5 most important changes that will affect all providers. There are many more topic points to consider, but the 5 topics included in this post should at least get a Provider started towards compliance with the NDIS Practice Standards and Quality Indicators (Practice Standards).
Before reviewing the 5 main changes, let’s remember the most important information about NDIS and what the role of the new Quality Safeguard Framework is.
The ‘Commission’ stands for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Quality and Safeguards Commission which is an independent agency whose role is to improve the quality and safety of the NDIS supports and services. The NDIS’s main job is to look at what providers of NDIS supports and services are doing, how well they are performing, and to help sort out complaints about the quality and safety of supports and services.
The NDIS Commission is implementing the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework which was released by the Council of Australian Governments Disability Reform Council in February 2017. The Framework will come into effect as each state and territory reaches full scheme under the NDIS and its role is to set out a national system to support NDIS participants, carers, and providers.
Below are the 5 main changes that will affect all providers:
Complaints Management and CM System
The Commission takes a very firm stance around an organisation’s Complaints Management System and this represents one of the big topic points that Commissioner Graeme Head has outlined in numerous provider sessions.
Although the modality in which the system is delivered is flexible (with variations being due to the size and scale of the organisation), it is important for organisations to not only understand the requirements under the NDIS Rules & Practice Standards but also the dedicated guideline for Complaints Management and Procedural Fairness.
It is important to note the training requirement for all employees of a registered Provider.
The main changes related to the Complaints Management system are:
- The introduction of Complaints Management and Resolution Rules – all registered NDIS providers are required to implement and maintain a system to manage and resolve complaints about the supports and services they provide and to adhere to regulations described in the document available on this webpage
- NDIS Practice Standards and Quality Indicators;
- Effective Complaint Handling Guidelines for NDIS Providers
- The introduction of Procedural Fairness Guidelines, available here.
Reportable Incidents (formerly known as Critical/Incidents)
The correct reporting and recording of Reportable Incidents (formerly named Critical/ Notifiable Incidents) is another topic point that is very much in the focus of the Commissioner.
It’s vital to understand that these recording and reporting requirements are new and differ from individual State and Territory requirements that may have been previously in place. It is also important to note that these requirements are not retrospective and come into effect from the 01/07/2019. Any incidents before this date are required to be recorded and reported according to current State or Territory guidelines.
The Commission will have oversight of the management of reportable incidents and has the power to conduct external investigations and require providers to take certain action where appropriate.
A provider’s obligations around the reporting and recording of Reportable Incidents does not replace any existing obligations for the Providers to report suspected crimes to the police and other relevant authorities.
It is important to note the training requirement for all employees of a registered Provider. As part of their training, employees will receive information about their obligations on how to identify, report and manage reportable incidents and key timeframes required for Commission notification.
The Incident Management and Reportable Incidents Rules are available here.
Worker Screening has been an interesting topic lately as the rollout date of the 01/07/2019 approaches. Extensive information has been released to Providers around this and it differs throughout the States and Territories. The latest piece of information to come from both the Commissioner and a representative from the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors, is that Qld may experience the rollover to worker screening in 2020 and Providers should be on the lookout for specific information from the Commission regarding this.
The role of Worker Screening is to ensure a safe environment for people with disability and to determine if people who are working with the NDIS are presenting an unacceptable risk to people with disability.
For the moment it is important for Providers to be aware of their State or Territory obligations in regards to worker screening requirements; however the rollout of the new system is still in the communication phase and current checks and balances carried out by organisations will need to be maintained until further information is available from the Commission.
Further information is available in the Worker Screening Rules.
The NDIS Code of Conduct
All Providers (registered or unregistered) are required to adhere to the NDIS Code of Conduct as of 01/07/2019. This Code applies to ALL workers engaged by Providers. Breaches to this code will result in severe penalties from the Commission up to and including de-registration of Providers by the Commission as well as various legal and financial ramifications.
The NDIS Code of Conduct includes the following requirements, according to the NDIS Commission website:
- Act with respect for individual rights to freedom of expression, self-determination, and decision-making in accordance with relevant 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 might have an impact on the quality and safety of supports provided to people with disability
- Take all reasonable steps to prevent and respond to all forms of violence, exploitation, neglect, and abuse of people with disability
- Take all reasonable steps to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct.
Other Code of Conduct Rules can be found here.
NDIS Provider Registration/ Registration Renewal
All Providers must be aware of their registration requirements under the Commission and also any re-registration requirements thereafter. This includes the introduction of the new ‘Quality, Safety and You’ worker orientation e-learning module that is now available on the Commissions website for all workers. Whilst overall application and registration requirements remain the same for Providers it is important to note that Providers will receive individualised requirements from the Commission which will be set out in the Certificate of Registration and Initial Scope of Audit documents that are issued to the Provider.
The registration process includes the following steps:
- Complete the online application form
- Select an approved quality auditor
- Undergo an audit
- The NDIS Commission assesses your application and makes a decision
- Receive your application outcome
A suitability assessment is completed by the NDIS in order to determine whether a provider can deliver NDIS supports and services or not, and the Commission investigates whether the NDIS provider or their key personnel have:
- Previously been a registered NDIS provider
- Had a banning order in place
- Any past convictions
- Been insolvent under administration
- Had adverse findings or enforcement action taken by any relevant authorities
- Been the subject of findings or judgement in relation to fraud, misrepresentation, or dishonesty
- Been disqualified from managing corporations.
The above information is mix of notes gathered from numerous Provider information sessions/ conferences and information sourced directly through the Commission’s website. Information may be subject to change without notice – it is recommended that if Providers have any further questions to contact the Commission directly.