Assistive Technology Suppliers Australia – 05/10/2021
The changes are clearly focussed on increasing the role of the participant in their plan and their say on the NDIS.
In Schedule 1, 22 47A Variation of participant’s plan by CEO etc.: Noting a change in a participant’s plan could “occur at any time” infers the provider of supports will be financially liable for work that has been completed in good faith but no longer required in the changed plan.
If an order has already been placed for Assistive Technology, then payment will need to be honoured by the participant/NDIS. All changes to a participant’s plan should be made prior to any orders for services or goods being placed and this should be transparent to all parties. It is assumed that Consumer Law continues to apply to the supply of Assistive Technology under the NDIS. If this is not the case, then this also needs to be transparent.
Example 1, if work on approved modifications to Assistive Technology (a personal medical device) has commenced and the plan is then subsequently modified to exclude or change that device, due to the work that has been completed in “good faith”, it will be necessary for the NDIS to still meet its obligations to cover the cost of the modifications/work already carried out. If there is a requirement to reverse the work, these additional costs will need to be covered for restoring the device to its original state.
Example 2, A complex, fully customised wheelchair has been built to a specific person’s needs and therefore not suitable for supply to anyone else. Just prior to delivery, the person passes away. The provider has acted in good faith and should be recompensed for the work that has been carried out.
There are some significant changes in this Schedule and further information is required to clarify what the implications of these changes will be for all parties. See response below.
n Schedule 2, 10 Section 14( a): A mechanism will be required for this amendment to be implemented. For example, a charge code for providers, including Assistive Technology suppliers, to cover the costs for providing information in relation to disability and disability supports and services, or to assist participants to receive supports.
In Schedule 2 49 Paragraph 182(2)(c): Under this part of the Act, Assistive Technology Suppliers risk incurring a bad debt if an NDIS participant dies before receiving the personal medical device that has been approved and ordered through the NDIS. Suppliers need to be reimbursed for the restoration of any equipment that has been modified for that particular participant so it can be on-sold. Refer also to Example 2 from our input for Schedule 1 also applies here – a complex, fully customised Assistive Technology wheelchair has been built to a specific person’s needs and therefore not suitable for supply to anyone else. Just prior to delivery, the person passes away. The provider has acted in good faith and should be recompensed for the work that has been carried out.
Schedule 2 50 Subsection 209(3): The issue of sustainability should be expanded beyond financial sustainability to include retaining partners and suppliers who support and work with the NDIS. These other areas are also key to the success and longevity of the NDIS.
As an example, Occupational Therapists need reasons to work in the disability sector rather than the hospital system where they receive more professional development.
The issue of sustainability including partners and suppliers and not just the financial aspect, would improve the participant experience in the NDIS by ensuring the supports needed remain in the disability sector.
It appears to have removed the transition aspects.
Schedule 3 3 Subsection 4(17): As noted in Schedule 2, the issue of sustainability should be expanded beyond financial sustainability to include retaining partners and suppliers who support and work with the NDIS including skills and knowledge. These other areas are also key to the success and longevity of the NDIS.
3. In regard to Rule 8 (1)(b)(ii) 90 days is a long time to approve the participant’s support for a child unless this process includes the assessment, budget, planning development and quoting processes. If so, then this should be clarified in the rules, if not, then ATSA would recommend this be reduced to 60 days.
The best approach to the length of time is to improve the communication of where the process is up to, not just for the participant but the provider who is affected, so that they can plan. This will also allow for the NDIA management to monitor times between each step as well as the whole of activity.
i) Email to participant and provider of supports that the request has been received by the NDIA for processes.
ii) Email to both participant and support that review has commenced.
iii) Email to participant and provider of supports that additional information has been requested.
iv) Email to participant and provider of supports that additional information has been received.
v) Email to participant and provider of supports that the request has been accepted/rejected.
Please note the comments above in regard to keeping participants informed in regard to the status of supports being provided in the plan.
Part e – the definition of Responsible Persons is not particularly easy to read.
In regard to Section 2 (g) of these Rules, there may need to be a shared process or system that allows for a participant to only tell their story once. Otherwise, this could be challenging when
– OTs seek multiple quotes.
– if Assistive Technology providers need more information from participants to
give the quotes and offer alternative payment models.
In regard to any changes to the purchase of goods or services in a participant’s plan, the participant/NDIS and supplier are protected by Australian Consumer Law unless the NDIS Act overwrites the Consumer Law which does not appear to be the case. Any changes to participants’ plans are therefore best made prior to the order for a service or good being placed. If an order has been placed then cancelled, the Terms and Conditions of supply and Consumer Law come into effect and the participant/NDIS is required to pay for the good or service. If this assumption is not correct then this needs to be more transparent and clearly stated for participants and providers.
The key point is, the supply of Assistive Technology can at times be a substantial investment that is likely to be customised and not easily on sold to an alternate participant. Under Consumer law, a simple change of mind does not release the customer from an order (contract to supply) with no penalty. This should be the case for NDIS participants when an order is placed for Assistive Technology.