Disability support workers are not volunteers. While generous and often motivated by their compassion, they are also qualified professionals who need to be remunerated fairly. Yet, with the super-tight pricing margins on the NDIS, almost every NDIS provider is giving services away every month. While you pay employees, between hours that can’t be billed and a huge lag between billing and payment, the money required to cover services isn’t coming in fast enough — if at all. When it comes to your operation, they are often working in essence, for love.
Why the NDIS is not sustainable for most providers
It’s not always easy for leaders in the disability support sector to talk about revenue and the NDIS, especially for not-for-profit organisations. In an ideal world, NDIS providers could focus on the quality and effectiveness of service delivery with the costs an afterthought — taken care of by plan funding.
In reality, financial sustainability has become a huge problem for NDIS providers. The focus is on how to continue under strained conditions, with operating on the NDIS looking more like this:
- Customer response times are slow because team members are stretched thin — 77% of providers received service requests they were unable to provide in 2021
- An unreasonable amount of administrative work and compliance is falling to frontline workers, overlaid on top of their actual role to deliver support
- The average time to process an NDIS invoice is at least 2-4 weeks, with providers often going unpaid due to unexplained errors
- Many hours of work are never funded because the right data wasn’t collected in the field to match up with customers’ approved plans
- Only 57% of NDIS providers that recorded a profit in 2021 expected to make a profit in 2022
Before the NDIS, frontline support workers were only expected to focus on clinical and support services. All they needed were notes on customer outcomes and service delivery. Now they are responsible for recording an extraordinary amount of extra data that will determine how much and whether organisations get paid for the services delivered.
This has disrupted operations and is proving to be unsustainable for NDIS providers. Without finding a way to stretch NDIS invoicing to cover the extra workload, services will suffer.
A new approach to NDIS support delivery
The good news is that there are leaders who are challenging the status quo, finding ways to deliver high-quality services without compromising their financial sustainability. One such person is Diane Lynch, CEO of Kirinari Community Services. Diane recently lended us her expertise and impassioned take on the issue in our recent publication, The NDIS Leadership Playbook.
For Diane and Kirinari, successfully operating on the NDIS doesn’t mean turning away from NDIS-funded services, but taking a fearless approach toward outdated or clunky processes.
“Humans are not perfect, they don’t fit into neat little boxes and rigid rules,” says Diane. “We need to make things simple and faster for our customers, they don’t want to see all the red tape and processes. Our approach has been to own the problem, sort out the systems and help people to navigate the system,” she explains.
Driven by a motivation to serve more customers in more regional communities, Kirinari have challenged outdated systems and introduced automation to create a brighter, more financially-sustainable future for service delivery.
“...[NDIS providers are] expected to have all this process, but the NDIS doesn’t give you the money or time to do that. We have to turn that on its head,” says Diane.
How to operate sustainably on the NDIS
Given that you are reading this article on a tech company’s blog, you’re probably expecting that Diane's answer to turning things on their head was with GoodHuman’s software for NDIS providers. Spoiler alert, you’re not wrong. However it’s more than technology that is really driving change for organisations like Kirinari. It’s also been their attitude and the way they have approached the challenges that the NDIS has presented.
“Be brave. Don’t wait for perfect,” she says. “Any change is scary, it requires a leap of faith and fierce determination. But my advice is to have a go and start something. If we wait, nothing will change....Embrace your passion for people and use it to drive change. For me, there needs to be a really good reason to say no to someone doing something that will bring joy to their lives,” explains Diane.
With this tenacity, paired with GoodHuman’s all-in-one NDIS platform, operating on the NDIS can shift to:
- Quicker shift allocation by automatically finding the right team member for every job, drastically speeding up customer response times and bookings
- Making it simple for frontline team members to record what they need at every shift, letting them focus on customer outcomes and service delivery instead of admin and compliance
- Automated invoicing that reduces the burden on frontline teams and allows the finance department to handle thousands of invoices every day, error free
- Connected billing to approved customer plans so all services delivered are instantly matched with eligible line items, ensuring organisations can cover costs and improve margins
Download The NDIS Leadership Playbook
Challenging ingrained processes doesn’t happen overnight, but taking the first steps today can set your organisation on the right path to long-term financial sustainability. Learn how successful leaders in human services are embracing change and removing friction with The NDIS Leadership Playbook. You’ll learn how to determine what your organisation needs to operate sustainably, including preparing for automation and Diane’s tips for identifying and reshaping inefficient processes.