There are alot of ‘pop up’ companies trying to fill the market for NDIS services. You must have seen the ads sprinkled throughout social media. Offering all manner of NDIS services such as support work, support coordination, supported community access, sporting, social, cooking services. NDIS nursing services, NDIS registration support and quality and auditing services. Services that offer holidays (not even legal under the NDIS) you name it. NDIS is the new buzzword and seems to be code for ‘come grab some CASH’.
I have some questions and want to know what experience these new company owners have. I see a market that can be exploited and targeted by the wrong people. We are seeing that now, as every week there seems to be a news story detailing the latest provider who has been fined for serious breaches of the NDIS code of conduct like fraud or abuse against persons with a disability. These are only the ones that make it into the news stories. What about the rest? What other industry are we seeing raw vulnerability in the customer, such few safeguards in place and a high level of questionable activity?
So WHO are these new companies that are popping up everywhere?
Did they have any lived experience within disability? Do they understand their customer or the disability community in general? Did they have any hands-on sector experience? What type of experience and for how long? What do they define as quality service delivery ?
Who is providing oversight and structure for them? Who is monitoring the service delivery for the most vulnerable participants, like the non verbal community for example? So many questions.
Some tout themselves as more trustworthy and safer than others as they have been registered with the NDIS.
But what does this actually mean?
To be clear registration looks primarily at the policies and procedures in place, like a company’s internal paperwork. Registration does not include ground level decision making ethics, morals or explicit sector knowledge. It doesn’t include the day to day workings of staff. Registration doesn’t actually guarantee anything other than the company having good paperwork that aligns with the requirements of the industry.
So is registration really a sign of a more qualified, safer service delivery option?
I am unsure. I know some owners of companies who are registered and personally I wouldn’t trust them with a paper bag let alone a vulnerable member of the disability community. Registration doesn’t mean much to me, having had many dealings with unscrupulous registered providers myself.
Interestingly there are a whole heap of other ‘pop up companies’ that are now offering Registration paperwork packs, for a fee.
Theoretically, for a sum of money you can increase the likelihood of being able to get registered by purchasing the paperwork bundles and personalizing them to meet the needs of your specific company. There is no doubt at all, that a company needs to put a lot of work in, as well as the expense associated costs with registration. I imagine that there are a lot of hours put in here. But I am also imagining that almost anyone who has enough money could get registered and stay registered if you can pay a third party to do it for you. Especially now in a privatized, relatively unregulated system.
Also registration isn’t the end point, a company also needs to be audited for re-registration purposes at there own expense, along an auditing schedule. This is often very time consuming and costly as well. It certainly requires some genuine investment.
So as expected, we are starting to see a lot of NDIS auditing companies popping up to fill the need in the market, as well as ‘pop up RTO’s’ now offering the courses to become the ‘Quality and Auditing officers’.
So, this begs the question, who can we trust at this stage?