How to:Choose an NDIS Plan Manager
Now that you’ve been accepted for an NDIS plan, it’s time to decide on how you want your plan managed. You can opt to manage your own plan, have the NDIA manage it for you, select an independent NDIS plan manager or have a combination of any two or three for different parts of your plan.
If you’re looking to have an independent NDIS plan manager it is important to know what to look for when making a selection. After all, not all plan managers are created equal. There are people and organizations who are incredible at their job and then you have the opposite end of the spectrum. The plan managers for one reason or another you want to avoid at all costs.
Consequently, we’ve broken this blog into two key parts.
The first are the qualities of a great NDIS plan manager. The purpose of this part of the blog is to help you understand what you need in your actual plan manager. We break down core qualities and explain why they are important to you. Naturally, you will identify these qualities not just in plan managers but in other service industries that you use. After all, business is business. However, the reasons may just be a little different from the norm.
The second part of the blog is where you’ll find the most helpful information on finding the right NDIS plan manager for you. All but one of them is an online resource while the other is the most common source of information anywhere!
The Qualities of a Great NDIS Plan Manager
As raised in our blog on ‘How to: Manage Your NDIS Funds’ not all NDIS plan managers are created equal nor are they all above board. Unfortunately, wherever there are vulnerable people there are the vultures who will attempt to feast on them.
Consequently, we value trust and honesty at an absolute premium. The best NDIS plan managers are characterised by their ability to be trusted. In order to manage your funds to the best of their ability sometimes that means saying no. Sometimes it means making the hard decisions that aren’t always pleasant. When an organisation is capable of making those decisions and then communicating them to you without beating around the bush you’ve found a good NDIS plan manager who you can trust.
Dependability and Reliability
Have you ever tried to call a company and nobody has answered the phone? You then leave a message and hope that they’ll return your call as soon as possible. A day or two goes by and you know that you’re never going to get that call back.
The second most important qualities of an NDIS plan manager is their dependability and reliability. When you have a disability you often rely on other people. Your plan manager becomes one of the most important people in your life. Without them you cannot progress.
What marks dependability and reliability for an NDIS plan manager?
In all honesty, it is as simple as doing what you say you are going to do, being available throughout your published business hours, responding to emails and phone calls in a timely manner, etc.
It is the simplest things that establish you as dependable and reliable. Unfortunately, the reality is that these are often the first warning signs that a business – not just a plan manager – isn’t worth working with.
When you find a plan manager who is dependable, you’ve found an organization worth their weight in gold!
Hardworking and Timely
Our third combo quality work hand in hand with the first two. If your NDIS plan manager is both hardworking and timely then chances are they’re going to be good at what they do.
There’s a reason why we combine timeliness with hardworking. Have you ever known people who are hardworking yet don’t seem to ever get anything done? Although we can appreciate their hard work the lack of results leaves us frustrated. Transform that into an NDIS plan manager and you’ll likely feel as though your goals become impossible to achieve through no fault of your own.
Compassion and Understanding
To be a good NDIS plan manager you need to have compassion and understanding. Quite frankly, you must be empathetic. The reasoning is obvious. If your plan manager cannot relate to your disability while also lacking compassion and understanding they cannot possibly advocate for you.
There are people who suffer from disabilities that are very difficult to relate to. They are not in a position to take things that healthy people take for granted. For example, someone who suffers from cauda equina syndrome may no longer be able to use the bathroom in the way that they previously did. That’s because their nerves no longer work the same way, if they work at all.
The reality is that many people couldn’t possibly relate to that. Instead, they can show compassion and understanding. They can do the research to understand what supports someone in that situation is likely to need. Their knowledge of what supports are available is likely to exceed someone with a new diagnosis who has never had to care in the past.
And when you’re new to the NDIS you may also be new to your disability. Even if it’s not then you’ll want someone who cares for you. Consequently, compassion and understanding are important characteristics in an NDIS plan manager.
Finally, the last characteristic that you should look for in a plan manager is experience. Despite the NDIS being relatively new it may seem a harder quality to find than what it actually is.
There are plan managers, companies and individuals alike, who have worked within the disability sector for many years. They possess the knowledge that they have accumulated throughout that time. Many of them know the types of supports that you need and the organizations that offer them.
Furthermore, many of the skills that plan managers possess can be successfully transferred from other occupations. For example, there are many older nurses who have retired from that industry and have moved into plan management organizations. Many of them are outstanding and have dedicated their entire career to supporting people with disability. In fact, they are even more likely to possess the previously listed character qualities of good plan managers.
Finding Key Information
There are many places where you can find information on NDIS plan managers. We will begin by listing word of mouth before moving onto a number of web-based listings.
Word of Mouth
If you know other people on the NDIS they may have helpful advice in choosing a plan manager. If they have a plan manager, they may refer you directly to them. In this case, that’s fantastic. However, they may be disappointed in how their case has been treated. If what they tell you is promising you’ll be one step closer to selecting a good plan manager. If not, you’ll certainly learn who to avoid!
After you have found out the names of the plan managers in your local area, you will want to visit their website. This can provide helpful information and help verify their credibility. You will quickly be able to tell if their website is well maintained and whether they post regular news and information. If they don’t then it may demonstrate that they may lack organisational skills.
The following is a list of questions that will tell you a lot about who they are and whether or not they offer a quality service.
- Do they have any testimonials provided by clients? If so, do they appear to be genuine?
- Does the plan manager have any partnerships with organizations that can help you?
- Does the plan manager offer a wide variety of services? Are they services that are designed to help you with your needs?
- Is the information on their website clearly presented and accessible?
- What information isn’t on their website? Is it a significant oversight?
- Can you contact them easily through their website?
- Does their website link to their social media accounts?
- Is the vibe or aura they provide on their site positive?
- Are their faces behind the organization? For example, does their ‘About Us’ page identify who works for the organisation?
- Do they have a blog with news about their industry, how to articles (like this one), etc.?
You may think that Google is just a search engine but you’d be wrong. Not only does Google have business listings but these listings contain a lot of helpful information. For example, if the business owner is diligent, they contain most relevant contact information including the physical address, phone number(s), a link to their website and social media profiles,
Furthermore, Google’s business listings also have a review section. Believe it or not but people don’t just leave reviews as a form of complaint! Positive reviews do exist. If you come across a company that lacks any reviews it may signify that there isn’t much demand in their local area or that they’re new and are establishing themselves. For these companies, we recommend leaving a review when you can as this is how they can improve whether your opinion is positive or negative.
Social media is an important customer service and marketing tool. You can view an organisation’s account at any time of the day or night. This often means that companies take considerable care in what they present to the public (or at least they should!)
As a result, you can learn a lot about an organisation by what they publish on their accounts. For example, you can gain an understanding of an organization’s mentality and vibe by what they post. What type of content are they posting? Is it helpful and does it help you with your needs? If not, are there any viable alternatives that do?
Organizations that post consistent content both in regards to subject matter and timeliness enable positive relationships to be built. This will give you peace of mind and a connection. This is important for a NDIS plan management service as having a disability can be an all too lonely experience.
Another great aspect of social media is the community setting. Although they are more hidden now than what they were in the past most Facebook pages have a community section where you can contribute to the discussion. There are also comment sections on Facebook and other platforms for you to read what other people are saying about specific posts. You can even have your say, ask questions, etc. and hopefully get quality responses that help you make a decision.
Finally, some social media platforms allow you to leave reviews and opinions on the organisation as a whole. This means that you may just find the answer you’re looking for by someone’s review!
Clickability is a growing website dedicated to the Australian Disability Services industry. Providers and other support providers are able to list their organisation for users to see.
Users are then able to contribute to the site. This is done through the submission of reviews and ratings. Obviously, these reviews and ratings can serve as a guide as to whether a service provider is good or not. Of course, users also have the choice of simply reading about services without the pressure of contributing a review.
MyCareSpace is “Australia’s largest national directory of Disability Services and NDIS information resources.” Therefore, we can think of the site as the Yellow Pages of Australian disability services.
Companies pay a fee to list themselves on the site with MyCareSpace having five different levels of listings ranging from verified, to number of locations (single, local) through to state and national/online organization listings.
What I find a little dodgy about MyCareSpace is that their listing costs are not listed. Consequently, we just don’t know how much organizations are paying for more attractive ad space.
A second problem is that most of the listings do not have a review. A directory site like this will live and die by its community much more than the companies that decide to list with them.
Ultimately, MyCareSpace and other sites that are rising up like it have enormous potential to serve as credibility gauges.
The most important thing that you can do to increase the likelihood of finding a good plan manager is to do your homework! Don’t go into a meeting with a potential plan manager without committing to the research.
When you do find a prospective plan manager, don’t just consider the company. You should think about the individual, or people, that you will be working with. Do they have enough of the right qualities to advocate, support, and help you throughout your NDIS journey?
We encourage you to create a positive relationship with them. Doing so will help them advocate for you. This is because they will be able to understand you and your needs so that you can begin achieving your goals.
Finally, it’s important to understand that plan managers aren’t just “yes” people. If they don’t believe something is right for you, then they mean it. A good plan manager will try to ensure that your best interests are taken care for. Unfortunately, sometimes that means saying no and advocating for something more suitable. More often than not they’re right – because they’ve helped people with similar issues. No two cases are the same but by being empathic and caring they’ll help you achieve your dreams.
You may not get lucky the first time around but there’s plenty of fish in the NDIS sea.
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