Transitioning to the New Approach for Community and Centre Based Group NDIS Supports (FY2020/21)

The 2020/21 NDIS Price Guide introduces a new approach for Community and Centre Based Group Supports which involves: 
  • Charging the relevant apportioned price for the services delivered e.g. 3 hrs x $19.60 ($58.80 / 3)
  • Individually charging for Non-Face-To-Face Support Provision separately (where applicable)
  • Charging a separate Centre Capital Cost (where relevant)
  • The option to utilise 'Programs of Support'
Providers have up until the 30th of June, 2021, to transition to this new approach and may continue to use the 'transitional' ratio approach to Group Supports in the interim. 

On page 69, the 2020/21 NDIS Price Guide (v2 valid from the 1st of December, 2020 accessible from this section of the NDIS website) states that 'A provider can either continue to use the transitional pricing arrangements for group and centre based supports or they can choose to switch to the new pricing arrangements for group and centre based supports. A provider must use the same approach (transitional or new) for all the group and centre based supports that they deliver. Once a provider commences to use the new pricing arrangements they may no longer use the transitional pricing arrangements.

Due to this, the Community and Centre Based Group Supports associated with the new pricing arrangements were temporarily omitted from SupportAbility to ensure that providers did not inadvertently use and claim for these by mistake. 

The release of SupportAbility v7.3 introduces a setting in System Preferences to assist providers transition to the New Approach for Community and Centre Based Group Supports. Additional tools have been developed designed to assist in managing this transition to help identify NDIS Direct Client Funding records with Transitional Support Item Budgets (which can be updated in the Preparation Phase of this project), as well as identifying NDIS Support Allocations in future-dated Activities for Transitional Supports (which can be updated once your organisation has transitioned to the New Approach).

This article discusses the considerations and tasks involved in each phase of this transition project. 

Audience: Authorised Representatives, Executive Management, Operations Management, Team Leaders


Summary

The following list summarises the content within this article. Click on the links below to take you to the relevant sections:


What is involved in the New Approach?

The 2020/21 NDIS Price Guide introduces a new approach for Community and Centre Based Group Supports which involves: 
  • Charging the relevant apportioned price for the services delivered e.g. 3 hrs x $19.60 ($58.80 / 3)
  • Individually charging for Non-Face-To-Face Support Provision separately (where applicable)
  • Charging a separate Centre Capital Cost (where relevant)
  • The option to utilise 'Programs of Support'

More detailed information regarding these changes can be found in the following articles, linked below for reference: 

  • Apportioning the Price of the required Group Supports
  • Non-Face-To-Face Support Provision
  • Programs of Support

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Project phases

Transitioning to the New Approach for Community and Centre Based Group Supports is a project comprised of multiple phases, each of which has been outlined further in the following diagram:

This transition project planning guide can also be viewed and downloaded here

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NDIS Group Supports (FY2020/21) transition setting

Navigate to the 'NDIS Group Supports (FY2020/21)' transition setting in the Funding tab of System Preferences: 

Noting that 'Transitional Approach' is displayed. A ‘Change Log’ is available to view when each transition phase was activated and by who, for reference. When your organisation is ready to move onto the next phases of this project i.e. the 'Preparation Phase', and when ready to transition to the 'New Approach', select the Change button to do so: 

When the required transition phase is selected, the word ‘confirm’ must be entered to confirm your wish to transition to the selected phase: 


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Phase 1: Transitional Approach 

As outlined in the above project planing guide, it is recommended to identify everything that will need updating in this phase to assist determine the scope of this project. There are some things that need to be completed outside of SupportAbility, such as reviewing the Service Agreements in place with Clients and any Service Bookings in the portal as required to work out what needs updating, as well as how, when and by whom this will be actioned. 

Additional tools have been developed to assist providers in identifying what needs to be updated in SupportAbility i.e. how many NDIS Direct Client Funding records will need updating in the next phase, as well as how many future-dated Activities contain Transitional Support Allocations. NDIS Support Allocations in Activities will require updating once your organisation has transitioned to the New Approach. In addition to the above, having visibility of this data in SupportAbility ahead of the transition will assist in determining the scope of work required in this project. 


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Identifying Transitional Approach Support Item Budgets

If your organisation creates NDIS Direct Client Funding records with NDIS Support Item Budgets and delivers Community and Centre Based Group Supports, the NDIS Budget Utilisation Report can be used to identify Transitional Approach Support Item Budgets as follows. 

Navigate to the 'NDIS Budget Utilisation Report' from the Funding Reports section of the Reports menu: 

Select 'All "Transitional Approach Group Supports (FY2020/21)" Items':

Once this is set, note that all 180 Support Item Budgets associated with the Transitional Approach are selected with one click: 

Select 'Search' and a list of all NDIS Support Item Budgets associated with the Transitional Approach is returned: 

These NDIS Support Budgets will no longer be available once we've transitioned to the New Approach. Therefore, the Preparation Phase was added, so that providers can update the required NDIS Direct Client Funding records ahead of transitioning to the New Approach. We will step through updating this in the 'Phase 1: Preparation' section of this article below, but for now, we're using these tools to identify how many records will need updating. 

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Identifying Transitional Approach NDIS Support Allocations in future Activities

Similarly, the Allocations Report can be used to identify Transitional Approach NDIS Support Allocations as follows.  

Navigate to the 'Allocations Report' from the NDIS Direct Supports section of the Finance menu: 

Select 'All "Transitional Approach Group Supports (FY2020/21)" Items':

Once this is set, note that all 180 Support Items associated with the Transitional Approach are selected with one click: 

N.B. It is recommended that the Activity Start Date reflects the point in time your organisation intends to transition to the New Approach to limit the search results to only those that will require updating.

Select 'Search' and a list of all NDIS Support Allocations associated with the Transitional Approach is returned: 

These NDIS Support Allocations will become invalid once we've transitioned to the New Approach. However, they will continue to be displayed so that the New Approach equivalents can be added. We will step through updating this in the 'Phase 3: New Approach' section of this article below, but similar to the above, we're using these tools in this phase to identify how many records will need updating. 

Whilst a large number of NDIS Support Allocation results are returned, many of these are included in Activities that are part of a replicated set. Therefore, once the first Activity following the transition is updated, the Replication Management Settings can be used to replicate the updated NDIS Support Allocations to future Activities in the set for efficiency. 

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Important transition project considerations

It is important to determine how the supports your organisation delivers will translate to the New Approach. The Staff Members tasked with updating these NDIS Support Allocations must understand how they are required to update these Allocations. It is also important to inform and educate Clients on the changes to billing for the New Approach which may be noticed in Client Funding Statements and Invoices. If Service Agreements require updating, this may be the opportunity to do so. 

As a result of this, if any Service Bookings require updating, this will also need to be coordinated with the relevant individuals. It is critical that the finance team are aware that once Supports associated with the New Approach are claimed, then Transitional Supports can no longer be used. It is also important that Transitional Support Allocations for all Self Managed and Plan Managed Clients are invoiced ahead of commencing to invoice for the New Approach. With this in mind, a strategy to ensure all Transitional Supports are invoiced and claimed ahead of commencing to use the New Approach is recommended. 

Once your organisation has transitioned to the New Approach by configuring this in System Preferences, the Supports associated with the Transitional Approach will no longer be valid in Activities that are not Signed Off, regardless of the date. 

For example, if we update the transition setting to the 'New Approach' on the 14th of December, and on the 18th of December we create backdated Activities for the 14th of December and attempt to add Transitional Approach Supports, this will no longer be possible as these Supports will be unavailable. Similarly, if we have not completed the Activity Sign Off for the Activity on the 14th of December before the transition, these Support Allocations will be deemed invalid and will be removed upon Sign Off. Your organisation would need to switch back to the 'Transitional' or 'Preparation Phase' in either of these scenarios. 

Therefore, it is imperative that your organisation has completed all of the NDIS Support Allocations and the Activity Sign Off for any Activities where Transitional Approach Supports are required before switching to the New Approach. 

Finally, based on all of the above, it is important to determine when your organisation will transition to the New Approach and devise a project plan including the allocation of adequate resources to facilitate this transition project.

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Phase 2: Preparation

In this phase of the transition project, it is important that any Service Agreements that require updating are updated, along with any Service Bookings that include Transitional Support Items in the myplace provider portal as required to the New Approach Support equivalents in readiness for transition to the New Approach in the next phase. 

If any NDIS Support Item Budgets associated with the Transitional Approach have been identified in the previous phase, these will need to be updated to ensure the New Approach equivalents are available. To complete this, the 'NDIS Group Supports (FY2020/21)' transition setting in the Funding tab of System Preferences must be updated to the  'Preparation Phase' first: 

When you are ready, type 'confirm' in order to save this change. 

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Updating NDIS Direct Client Funding records with Transitional Approach Support Item Budgets

If your organisation uses Flexible Category Budgets, then the following will not need to be completed. Supports associated with the New Approach will be automatically available to Allocate in Activities in the next phase. 

Use the NDIS Budget Utilisation Report as outlined above in Phase 1 to locate Transitional Approach Support Item Budgets that require updating in NDIS Direct Client Funding records: 

The link to the NDIS Direct Client Funding record can be selected to navigate here and update this e.g. Ted, who has one NDIS Support Item Budget associated with the Transitional Approach, 04_160_0136_6_1: 

The Budget for 04_160_0136_6_1 has been updated making note of this for reference.

Ted's Funding has been updated to include two new NDIS Support Item Budgets for the New Approach equivalents i.e. 04_102_0136_6_1 and 04_599_0136_6_1: 

As per the blue notification message, whilst the NDIS Support Item Budgets for Supports associated with the New Approach can be added to NDIS Direct Client Funding records, they are not yet available for Allocation in Activities until your organisation has transitioned to the next phase. 

It is important to note that once your organisation transitions to the New Approach in the next phase, Transitional Approach Support Item Budgets will be made unavailable automatically in NDIS Direct Client Funding records and this will not need updating in the Funding record at all. 

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Keeping track of NDIS Support Item Budgets requiring updating

The NDIS Budget Utilisation Report can be used to keep track of which NDIS Support Budgets have been updated by searching for those that also include the "New Approach Group Supports (FY2020/21)" Support Item Budgets: 

By reviewing the search results, we can see the Clients that have both Transitional Approach and New Approach NDIS Support Item Budgets, such as Ted: 

Which is also the case for Jordan, however, Malcolm, Bilbo, Andrea and Bradley's Budgets are yet to be updated. 

Alternatively, you could search for Transitional Approach and New Approach NDIS Support Item Budgets separately and compare the two lists. Each of these reports has a detailed export which may come in handy.  

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Important preparation before transitioning to the New Approach

It is important to ensure all Staff Members who are involved in adding or updating NDIS Support Allocations understand what New Approach Support equivalents will need to be updated and Allocated in the required Activities in the next phase and that all Activities including Transitional Approach Supports are Signed Off ahead of the transition. 

Similar to the recommended steps outlined in Phase 1, it is recommended that future-dated Activities (from the date your organisation intends to transition) that include Transitional NDIS Support Allocations are reviewed, using the Allocations Report to determine who will be responsible for updating the NDIS Support Allocations from Transitional Items to the New Approach equivalents if this has not yet been complete, ahead of switching to the New Approach in the next phase. 

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Phase 3: New Approach

When your organisation is ready to transition to the New Approach and only use Supports associated with the New Approach in Activities that are not Signed Off, update the 'NDIS Group Supports (FY2020/21)' transition setting in the Funding tab of System Preferences to 'New Approach': 

When you are ready, type 'confirm' in order to save this change. 

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Transitional Approach NDIS Support Item Budgets are automatically made unavailable

Once an organisation has transitioned to the New Approach, any Transitional Approach NDIS Support Item Budgets are automatically made unavailable: 

And all Transitional Approach NDIS Support Allocations in Activities that are not Signed Off are deemed invalid: 

These Allocations remain in place so that this can be reviewed and the New Approach Support equivalents can be added as outlined below. 

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Updating Transitional Approach NDIS Support Allocations in Activities to the New Approach Equivalents

Use the Allocations Report as outlined above in Phase 1 to locate Transitional Approach NDIS Support Allocations in Activities that have not been Signed Off that require updating in NDIS Direct Client Funding records: 

As mentioned previously, whilst a large number of NDIS Support Allocation results are returned, many of these are included in Activities that are part of a replicated set. Therefore, once the first Activity is updated, the Replication Management Settings can be used to replicate the updated NDIS Support Allocations to future Activities in the set for efficiency. 

Navigate to the Activity and note that the Transitional Approach NDIS Support Allocation is still in place for reference:

In order for the New Approach equivalent NDIS Support Allocations to be determined and added: 

Before the Transitional Approach Support is removed: 

Once each of the Client's Transitional Approach NDIS Support Allocations has been updated: 

If you wish to replicate the changes made to the future Activities in the set, check the 'Clients' Replication Management Setting before saving: 

It is recommended to turn this off and select 'Save Activity' again once the replication changes have been applied. 

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Generating Direct BPRs and excluding the relevant approach 

As mentioned earlier, it is critical that the finance team are aware that once Supports associated with the New Approach are claimed, then Transitional Supports can no longer be used. It is therefore recommended to ensure all Transitional Supports are claimed ahead of commencing to claim for the New Approach.

When Generating Direct BPRs, a search criterion is available to assist by allowing providers to limit the search results by Group Support Approach:

The blue notification appears once Allocations associated with the New Approach have been Signed Off in Activities advising that this filter can be used to limit the search results by Group Support Approach as required e.g. Exclude New Approach: 

When the search results are returned, a blue notification message appears advising of how many Transitional Approach Allocations are included, as well as how many New Approach Allocations are included: 

This information is also displayed against the relevant Allocations in the list results. The 'Filter Allocations' search bar can be used to limit the results by Approach as required e.g. 'New Approach' and can be cleared by selecting the cross icon. For example, if you have not used the Group Supports search criterion, you may wish to select all Allocations, and then narrow this down to any New Approach Supports and then deselect these so they are not included in the BPR when you are still in the process of claiming for Transitional Allocations. However, using the Group Supports search criterion will exclude these from appearing in the search results and therefore may be preferred. 

It is important to note that SupportAbility will allow a combination of Transitional and New Approach Allocations to be included in a BPR, however, we provide the tools for you to identify what is being included. It is up to your organisation to ensure that only the required Allocations are selected and included when choosing to Create a Direct BPR. 

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Full list of Transitional and New Approach Support Items

A full list of Support Items from the 2020/21 NDIS Price Guide that are associated with each approach can be found here.

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