Supercharging your customers’ NDIS goals

Over the next 18 months while NDIA struggles to catch up with the delayed NDIS roll-out nationally, we expect that the quality of formal NDIS plans being generated by planners will continue to be mostly sub-standard, simply because planners can’t afford adequate time to facilitate thorough planning.

What to do?

Well, in NSW and SA, NDIS providers are already compelled to prepare a participant ‘Support Plan’ in relation to the services they are providing, per the NDIS Commission’s Practice Standard Core Module Part 4 section 19. The Support Plan must support achievement of goals as described in a client’s NDIS plan.

We suggest that this is the perfect opportunity to address any shortcomings of the NDIS plan, and to get to know your customer better by working with them to prepare a good quality plan for the services that you will provide them. Naturally your support plan will need to link to the all-important funded goals in the NDIS plan, but this is an opportunity to go much further and breathe life into the NDIS participant’s life aspirations.

What does a good quality person-centred plan look like? A good plan will articulate SMART goals, something we see only occasionally in NDIS plans.

We are big fans of Helen Sanderson’s approach to planning. The tools, and others like them, are used by many contemporary disability provider organisations in Australia. Further resources can be found here:

We believe that one of the reasons that so many people are getting poor quality, unfunded NDIS plans is their lack of understanding of what NDIS can fund, and therefore an inability to answer questions during the NDIS planning session that will lead to generation of a good quality support plan.

Unfortunately NDIA doesn’t publish data that shows what goals are being funded, or what services consumers are buying. In the absence of this vital information, we have compiled a list of goals that we see demanding/discerning NDIS participants stipulating, and being funded for.

  1. Be happy and comfortable in my home
  2. Be more mobile
  3. Be able to communicate better
  4. Get out more – be more socially active, meet new people, develop new friendships
  5. Move out of parent’s house (or group home) i.e. development of independent living skills
  6. Live near the beach, near a river, in the city etc.
  7. Live on my own, or find flatmate/s to share a house with
  8. Participate in art (in all its forms)
  9. Drive a car or bike
  10. Look better and lose weight
  11. Go camping or hiking in the outdoors
  12. Go on holiday
  13. Learn a new skill, whether that be privately or at TAFE
  14. Volunteer at a local sport/rec club, or at a business
  15. Get a part-time job e.g. with animals or where I meet people
  16. Set up and run a small business e.g. Cam Can, John’s crazy socks
  17. Go dancing or learn how to dance
  18. Go to a pub or nightclub
  19. Go to a concert or show
  20. Go to a place of worship, or other regular community venue/event
  21. Return to home country (for Aboriginal person or other ethnicity)
  22. Reconnect with family e.g. if person is estranged from family
  23. Get a girl/boyfriend, have sex or explore sexuality (not the act, but mentoring support)
  24. Explore spirituality

For each of these goals, there are strategies and/or support types that may be relevant, for example goal number one above (be happy and comfortable in my home) may include:

  1. Personal care – toileting, showering, dressing
  2. Food – tasty, nutritious meals
  3. Home tasks e.g. cleaning/gardening
  4. Home mods re accessibility
  5. Home mods re opening/closing doors/windows
  6. Home mods re intelligent safety systems
  7. Therapies incl. occupational therapy, physiotherapy

So next time a participant comes to you with an NDIS plan with goals that are non-specific, or not even what the participant wants (unfortunately common), we would suggest that you convene a discussion with the participant and key members of their circle of support. Guided by section 34 of the NDIS Act, spliced with a dash of creativity, you can support participants to understand the many ways that available NDIS funding may be used to support the achievement of their life goals.

And just a final point – there are multiple people who could facilitate a ‘proper’ planning session – disability advocate, support coordinator, service provider or even a member of the participant’s own circle of support. Or all of these people working together with the participant! A service provider may not be funded to do this work, but we would argue that the value added to the customer will significantly increase the likelihood of customer satisfaction, achievement of goals and customer retention.

Do you have any comments on this article? We’d love to hear. Contact Brendon Grail.

Brendon Grail


Brendon Grail
NDIS Transition Lead Consultant
Phone: 1300 284 364

Seven key actions to deliver the NDIS sustainably

Prof Bruce Bonyhady is Executive Chair and Director of the Melbourne Disability Institute, an inter-disciplinary research institute at the University of Melbourne, and was the inaugural chair of the NDIA from 2013 to 2016. As one of the original architects of the NDIS, Prof Bonyhady still holds true to the founding principles, which are becoming somewhat lost in the face of a very challenging implementation schedule. Prof Bonyhady spoke at a recent CBB event for disability service providers in South Australia. Here are his recommended actions that governments should take in order to get back on track and deliver the NDIS sustainably, many of which are aligned to the conclusions of the Productivity Commission Review of NDIS Costs, published late last year. Continue reading…

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On 19 July the NDIS announced changes to the provider and participant portal.  Providers and participants will now be able to edit, or immediately cancel, service bookings. If the provider rejectsNDIS invoicing and payment requests a revision, a reason or explanatory note can be posted.

These are major improvements to NDIS service bookings which we discussed in the second instalment of this three part series. NDIS processes are constantly evolving. It highlights the need for providers to stay up to date and to readily adapt their processes and procedures. Ensure staff roles are clearly defined – who keeps abreast of NDIS changes, who updates procedures and who communicates changes to staff, and potentially to your clients?

In this third and last instalment we discuss NDIS invoicing and payment requests for your service delivery. We also give ideas on how your organisation can create a focus on continuous improvements to your NDIS business processes. Continue reading…

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NDIS: Not business As Usual

As the NDIS rolls out providers are urged to transform their business processes and systems. The move from block funding to payment for hours of service provided requires good preparation, NDIS: Not business as usualorganisation and commitment. Registering as a NDIS provider is only the first step. New ways need to be developed, trialled and adjusted as part of your NDIS planning to interact with your customers and the new way of funding.

We have identified ten steps along the NDIS customer journey that you must take when your customer becomes a NDIS participant and selects you as a service provider. Continue reading…

NDIS Overheads

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The reason this subject is difficult is that the longer you’ve been in business and the bigger your organisation size, the more difficult it will be to squeeze or remove overheads.

The unfortunate fact is that current NDIS providers of core supports who have transitioned from block funding to NDIS funding will probably be bleeding cash, for three reasons: Continue reading…

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Retail businesses understand (and are arguably obsessed by) their gross margin for every product on the shelf. Alas, we don’t meet many NDIS providers who can quote the percentage margins for each of their NDIS services.

In the world of tight, capped NDIS pricing, we suggest that every CEO and CFO should have those figures top of mind. Boards are also likely to be increasingly interested in this subject if they see balance sheet runways (i.e. the number of months of operating costs they hold in current assets) shortening.

The question we often get asked by disability providers is, how can we calculate margins without going through a complicated activity based costing exercise?

Here is how in four easy steps: Continue reading…

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In Part 1 of this piece, we looked at the ‘understanding your market’ and ‘service delivery’ aspects of a business model in the NDIS world.

In Part 2 we looked at ‘marketing and sales pipeline’ – one of the most challenging aspects for most NDIS disability service providers.

In this the final instalment, we look at financials. How you generate revenue is the key driver of your business model. Continue reading…

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In the last instalment of Foreword, we looked at two of the key aspects of a business model in the NDIS world – understanding your market, and service delivery.

We looked at five steps to better understanding your market – analyse customer demographics, analyse customer needs and wants, calculate total prospective market size, map competitors and map your services to the NDIS price guide. Continue reading…