The NDIA released the 2020/21 Price Guide this morning with some massive announcements inside. Notably missing from this release is the updated price limits – while the newly released Price Guide outlines the updated structure, the sector will need to wait for the outcome of the Annual Wage Review to see how prices are updated across the board. So what do we know so far?
SIL IS NOW SUBJECT TO PRICE LIMITS
Perhaps the biggest change in this release is the move away from price quoting and negotiation in Supported Independent Living (SIL). SIL is now subject to price limits based on the time of day, day of the week and intensity of support. Many SIL providers will be anxiously wondering what these new prices are and while they are yet to be finalised, our first impressions are not good – it appears that the “lower” classification has been removed and the pricing has been shifted downwards so that a “higher” rate is now priced where “standard” was and “standard” is where “lower” used to sit.
Existing quotes will continue until the end of their 12 month term, at which point the provider will need to switch over to the set SIL pricing limits. The NDIA will release more information in the new SIL Provider Pack which will be available in the coming weeks.
NEW LINE ITEMS FOR INDIVIDUAL LIVING OPTIONS
And while we’re talking about in-home support, Individual Living Options (ILO) fans will be pleased to see the inclusion of ILO “Exploration and Design” and “Support Model” line items. More detail is still to come in July – stay tuned.
EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS PRICING SHAKE UP
This Price Guide has thrown out the old pricing model for employment supports, which has up until now been paid as a weekly support. In its place is a far more flexible approach with hourly price limits based on the day of the week and time of support.
While this represents a significant transition and challenge for many employment providers, it is a massive win for Participants wanting greater flexibility in their work hours and options.
PSYCHOSOCIAL RECOVERY COACHES
This Price Guide includes a welcome addition to the Support Coordination support category in the form of Psychosocial Recovery Coaches. The description of this role sounds very similar to Support Coordination and indeed, it is expected this function will replace Support Coordination for many people with psychosocial disability:
These support items provide assistance for participants to build capacity and resilience through strong and respectful relationships to support people with psychosocial disability to live a full and contributing life. This support is designed to be able to maintain engagement through periods of increased support needs due to the episodic nature of mental illness. Recovery coaches work collaboratively with participants, families, carers and other services to identify, plan, design and coordinate NDIS supports.
There are a few important differences between Recovery Coaches and Support Coordinators that we can see so far:
- Recovery Coaches must have lived and/or learnt experience, including a min. Cert IV qualification in peer work or mental health or equivalent training and/or two years experience in mental health related work
- Unlike Support Coordinators, who are paid a flat rate regardless of the time of support, Recovery Coach price limits vary. While prices are still not final, we are concerned to see that the Weekday rates are currently sitting 10-20% below the current rates for Support Coordination – Level 2, despite the higher bar for qualifications.
CORE AND CAPACITY BUILDING ARE STILL NOT FLEXIBLE
In what we can only hope is a momentary delay, this Price Guide does not make any changes to the flexibility of core and capacity building supports, as Minister Robert announced it would late last year. Sadly, the Core support definition still reads “Participant budgets often have a lot of flexibility to choose specific supports with their core support budgets, but cannot reallocate this funding for other support purposes (i.e. capital or capacity building supports).”
PROVIDER TRAVEL MAY NOW ALSO INCLUDE NON-TIME COSTS
Bringing it in line with the rules around Activity Based Transport, providers who are allowed to charge for travelling to/from a participant may now also claim for the costs associated with the trip (in addition to the worker’s time). This may include road tolls, parking fees and vehicle running costs.
Charging these costs will be subject to negotiation with each participant. The price recommendation (not limit) is currently the same as Activity Based Transport:
- up to $0.85 a kilometre for a vehicle that is not modified for accessibility; and
- other forms of transport or associated costs up to the full amount, such as road tolls, parking, public transport fares.
And in news that will be music to the ears of providers in many remote areas, capacity building providers can now create their own agreements with participants to cover the costs of remote travel.
CENTRE-BASED COSTS ARE NOW CLAIMED SEPARATELY
Previous Price Guides included a raft of line items for centre-based supports that were slightly higher than their community-based counterparts, to cover the costs of running and maintaining the centre. These costs are now separated out and can be claimed by a provider in any of the following Registration Groups:
- High Intensity Daily Personal Activities (0104);
- Specialised Supported Employment (0133); and
- Group and Centre Based Activities (0136)
Centre Capital Cost is currently sitting at $2.31 per hour in non-remote areas with the final price to be confirmed.
ESTABLISHMENT FEES ARE NOW CONSISTENT
Replacing the previous rules about establishment fee pricing is a flat fee of $528.50 (non-remote, non final price). Providers of personal care, community access or employment supports can claim this fee once for participants they support at least 20 hours a month for three or more consecutive months. Note that employment supports is a new addition to that list.
TEMPORARY TRANSFORMATION PAYMENT WILL BE REDUCED
But you guessed it – we don’t know the final rates yet.
THE FORMAT HAS IMPROVED… SLIGHTLY
Those of you who remember the days of a Price Guide that was even remotely accessible will be pleased to see the reintroduction of those blue and white tables that clearly layout what the support is and how much it costs. Look, we’re not saying it’s a perfect document but we’ll take this over the size 3 font of the last Support Catalogue any day.
In typical NDIA fashion, this Price Guide release is far from the final one. We’ll keep publishing as we have more information.
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