The key to successful NDIS accreditation is planning, writes Dr Nicole Brooke. 

Dr Nicole Brooke

A common question from disability service providers facing NDIS accreditation is how do I prepare better for accreditation, or what do I need to do to ensure I am prepared?

Like any government system you have to expect that there are going to be hurdles.

The reality is that the government has a duty of care to ensure providers are going to do the best by their participants. 

That kind of responsibility isn’t going to come with out some pain and planning, but the good news is that most of the planning can be done using NDIS provider business rules and guidelines.

Knowing the requirements and planning to ensure that you have all your documentation ready will make the NDIS accreditation process a lot more straight forward. 

There will always be documents that you didn’t think you’d need. A consultant can help you develop these and respond to the questions, but many of the documents are also provided by the NDIS.

Responding to key attributes of your business processes is important.  If you do decide to buy and use off the shelf documents, ensure that they are aligned to your actual business processes and that you know these just as well as you know other parts of your business, as this is where providers often become unstuck. 

Being prepared and having confidence in your own business processes as they align to NDIS requirements will put you in good stead.

Here are 10 top tips for approaching accreditation:

  1. Be prepared.  Know the practice standards and business rules so you can prepare the evidence you are required to present. Know your policies and processes so they are ready and reflect your practices.
  2. Choose your auditor carefully, a good auditor will ensure they triangulate evidence and that it is relevant for the specific provider and your service scope.
  3. Have practical examples to substantiate your practices.  Even if you are new to NDIS, you can use relevant previous experiences. Try to plan these so they cover off the scope as best as possible with as much evidence as reasonable.
  4. Use your data to help support your systems and processes.  Data will help you with your governance and risk management approaches.
  5. Governance is historically one of the weakest areas.  Records need to demonstrate decisions, how you have closed quality loops and how you are monitoring compliance. The Australian Community Industry Standards cover governance off in two of the areas, highlighting the breadth and extensiveness that this area needs to be considered and documented to support your operations.
  6. Understand the requirements of each registration group, especially where minimum professional qualifications are required. You can’t get away from these and they do take time to gather.
  7. Plan the audit days.  When you are a small provider, emergencies and daily issues arise and should be expected.  Try to have alternate staff step into key roles for the day so you can be truly focused.
  8. Whilst many audits are undertaken remotely during COVID, ensure you have planned your IT systems to support you during the audit as this is your responsibility.
  9. Seek advice so you know what to expect and are as prepared as possible.
  10. Don’t re-invent the wheel.  Ensure you are familiar with the commission’s resources, templates and bulletins.

More information is available here.

Dr Nicole Brooke is the chief executive officer of Community Audits Australia

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