So you’re a service provider or a support worker and you know a little bit about the NDIS and the audit process, but you’re not 100% across it.
It can be daunting to learn about your responsibilities with the NDIS and how you can prepare to make sure you meet their requirements and expectations. We’ve created a handy little checklist that will help you learn how to prepare for an NDIS audit and what to expect.
What is an audit? Well, it’s pretty much an examination where an authority or person comes to your company and tests your services/products.
In disability services, an NDIS audit is when an approved auditor examines your services to see if they comply with current standards and are up to date.
So why have an audit? Well, they ensure you are compliant with the NDIS Practice Standards. The Practice Standards are a set of guidelines to help service providers and support workers better understand their roles and responsibilities towards the people with disability they support.
An audit is a good idea, especially if you are registered with the NDIS. Actually, it’s more than a good idea, it’s literally an obligation under the NDIS.
Audits also help you ensure you stay up-to-date with current models of practice so you provide the best possible quality service your clients can expect. Being registered and audited also means your clients have more confidence in your organisation, which improves your brand reputation.
Before we get into the thick of things, let’s run through a few things including:
Who is the NDIS? Why are they important?
Most people who work in disability would have heard about them, but it’s still important to know a little about the NDIS. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is an independent body that works with service providers and people with disability to improve the quality and safety of support services.
People with disability can register with the NDIS and are called NDIS participants. The NDIS and the Practice Standards came out in response to providing people with disability with more agency and choice, ensuring they can fully participate in society and have more control over their supports and life.
The difference between a registered and unregistered provider
Since the NDIS and the Practice Standards came into effect in 2013, service providers had the choice to register with the NDIS or not. They don’t have to register with them, but it does give them a little bit more credibility.
The key difference is that more people with disability are choosing to register with the NDIS as it makes it easier for them to find support services and gives them more freedom and control. Therefore, they are more likely to trust a registered provider than an unregistered one.
It’s also easier to manage billing and finances as registered providers can easily claim payment for services from the NDIS portal, whereas unregistered providers have to directly speak to clients to receive payments.
The NDIS Practice Standards
Simply put, the NDIS Practice Standards provide service providers and support workers with a gold standard. They are a set of guidelines that cover specific areas which highlight person-centred practice when supporting people with disability.
There are 4 core standards, which are:
You are audited against the Practice Standards, i.e. an auditor will look at your services and compare them against the standards to see if you’re complying with the requirements.
Click here to read more about the Practice Standards.
There are pretty much 5 steps to the auditing process.
Let’s look at these in more detail.
Earlier on, we looked at the difference between a registered and unregistered provider. Remember, only registered providers need to undergo audits.
So, to complete an audit, you would first need to register with the NDIS. Providers who offer services and supports or specialist disability accommodation, use restrictive practices, or develop behaviour support plans can all register.
To do this, you need to submit a self-audit where you basically assess your organisation and the services it provides to see if it meets the NDIS’s requirements. Once that is submitted, the NDIS would like a confirmation of this, hence the need for an audit by an approved provider.
You usually have between 12 to 18 months after registering to complete your audit. The audit will basically look at what type of services/supports you offer and compare them against the Practice Standards.
It also depends on the size of your organisation, the scope, and any risks the services you provide could arise. When registering, the NDIS asks you to do a self-audit of your services, so it’s important to make sure all your paperwork is ready from the time you register to be prepared for the audit.
There are two pathways to registration: verification and certification.
Verification is for any service providers who offer low/lower-risk supports and services, e.g. assistance with travel. Certification is for any service providers who offer high/higher-risk supports and services that are a little more complex, e.g. assistance with daily life tasks.
Both verified and certified providers have to renew their registration every 3 years and undergo an audit. Certified providers have to have an audit during the middle of the registered period, so every 1.5 years.
Before you register, it’s important to make sure you have plenty of documentation. This can come through in the form of your policies and procedure or any training that your staff have done (hint hint, our Workforce Essentials eLibrary).
Usually, you can get templates or use the NDIS Practice Standards and Capability Framework to create or update your policies. Policies and procedures are important as they standardise how your support workers or other staff in your organisation are to behave.
Training and policies and procedures are the evidence you can provide to the NDIS to show that your organisation is committed to following its requirements and can provide the services you say you offer.
Training, in particular, helps you become audit-ready because it shows a commitment to improving your services and having updated knowledge and practices.
Some of these policies and training might cover incident management, complaints resolution, risk management, and codes of conduct (these are topics specifically outlined in the Practice Standards, so they are important).
We recommend choosing training that is mapped against the NDIS Practice Standards. That’s the advantage of the Workforce Essentials eLibrary—it makes it easy to demonstrate how you comply with each Practice Standard. Each module is mapped to the corresponding standard as well as the workforce capability framework.
After gathering all your paperwork, the next step is to figure out how much the audit will cost you and who will audit your organisation.
The NDIS does not conduct the audits, but rather has an approved list of auditors who will determine if you meet the requirements or not.
With that in mind, be aware that the audit price may differ depending on who you choose. It also depends on the size of your organisation (i.e. the number of staff), the types of services you offer, and whether your services are low or high-risk.
It’s a good idea to get quotes from different auditors and find a price that best suits you and your organisation. Generally, an audit will cost anything between $500 to $10k.
To put it frankly, you cannot technically “pass” an NDIS audit. What happens instead is that you are given a rating on a scale of notifiable non-conformity to conformity with best practice.
What does this mean? Let’s break it down; Amergin provided a great scale to use. Click on the image to view the scale more clearly.
If you are registered, you don’t face deregistration unless you continue to ignore notifiable or severe non-conformity.
To start with, you would have to reach out to the approved auditor and schedule an audit. The rest depends on whether you are getting verified or certified.
For verification audits:
For certification audits:
Remember, the goal of a registered NDIS provider, or any provider for that matter, is to make sure they consistently deliver best-practice services to their clients. It is the goal of the auditor and the NDIS to make sure that service providers are doing their part and meeting their legal and compliance requirements.
The best thing you can do is to always have documented evidence of everything—including policies, procedures, reports, complaints, etc.—to ensure you do right by the NDIS and, more importantly, those you support.
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