The new NDIS Practice Standards are here! What now?

We have been waiting on the release of an update to the NDIS Practice Standards for a little while now, and as of November 2021 the NDIS Commission has provided details of key amendments. Read on to get our rundown on all the changes.

What are the key changes?

The most significant change brought in by these amendments is the introduction of the following three new NDIS Practice Standards:

In Core Module Standard 2 (Governance and Operational Management):

  • Emergency and disaster management – This standard addresses the planning required by providers to prepare, prevent, manage and respond to emergency and disaster situations whilst mitigating risks to, and ensuring continuity of, supports that are critical to the health, safety and wellbeing of participants. Note that this practice standard specifically highlights the responsibilities of a provider’s governing body in this area.

In Core Module Standard 4 (Support Provision Environment):

  • Mealtime management – This practice standard applies to providers of supports to participants who require assistance to manage their mealtimes, including those with mild dysphagia. The standard deals with the nutritional value and texture of meals, and concerns the planning, preparation and delivery of meals. The standard aims to ensure quality and safety of mealtime management. 

In Module 1: High Intensity Daily Personal Activities

  • Severe dysphagia management – This practice standard applies to providers registered to provide high intensity daily personal activities and who have severe dysphagia management set out in their certificate of registration. Providers will be required to ensure that participants with severe dysphagia receive support that is relevant and appropriate to their specific needs and circumstances.

Quite a number of other new and amended Quality Indicators

There are also a number of new and amended Quality Indicators throughout the Practice Standards. Providers should familiarise themselves with all of these changes as soon as possible.

Many of the new or amended indicators relate to emergency and disaster management, including infection outbreaks, and the associated necessary worker training and capabilities.  However, there are also other amendments in areas such as:

  • the consideration of preventative health measures in planning supports, where relevant; and
  • more prescriptive requirements in relation to participant risk assessments, and their regular review.

The new and amended Quality Indicators appear in the following Practice Standards:

Core Module

Standard 2: 
  • Risk Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Continuity of Supports
Standard 3: 
  • Support Planning
  • Service Agreements with Participants
  • Responsive Support Provision
  • Transitions to or from a provider (Previously Transitions to or from the provider)
Standard 4:
  • Safe Environment
  • Management of Waste

Module 3: Early Childhood Supports

  • The Child

Verification Module

  • Human Resource Management
  • Risk Management

When do the changes come into effect?

  • 15 November 2021: for registered NDIS providers, the new severe dysphagia management practice standard, together with all of the new and amended quality indicators we’ve mentioned above, are applicable from this date.
  • 13 December 2021: the mealtime management practice standard is subject to a transition period and comes into effect from this date. 
  • 24 January 2022: the emergency and disaster management practice standard is subject to a transition period and comes into effect from this date. 

Updated and new SPP self-assessments will be available shortly!

We’ve been working hard to update our SPP self-assessments for the NDIS Practice Standards as soon as possible, to help you get on top of the new requirements and streamline your compliance work.

We expect to be releasing updated self-assessments within the next couple of weeks.

We will also be making available a new “educative” self-assessment for the NDIS Practice Standards, as well as a new module to help board and governing body members better understand their responsibilities under the Practice Standards, and hopefully enhance their engagement with management.

So watch this space!

Further information

An updated version of the NDIS Practice Standards has been published here.

If you would also like to read the legislative amendments in full, you can access those here and here.

Want to manage NDIS compliance simply?

Access self-assessments for the NDIS Practice Standards on the NDS Quality Portal.

NDIS Code of Conduct guidance for providers

The NDIS Code of Conduct, which has been in place since 2018, ensures that workers understand how they must act, and their responsibilities to provide high quality, safe services and supports to people with disability.

There are certain requirements placed on providers regarding worker compliance with the Code of Conduct.  Providers must implement systems to ensure that their staff are conducting themselves in line with the expectations of the NDIS Rules.

This blog post looks at the worker’s responsibilities from the provider’s perspective and examines how the provider can ensure that the conduct of their workers conforms with the values outlined by the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. This is not intended to be an exhaustive resource; for further reading see the NDIS Commission’s Code of Conduct guidance for providers and workers.

Service delivery

Under the NDIS Code of Conduct, it is the responsibility of providers to ensure that workers delivering supports have the appropriate training, qualifications and competence to deliver supports.

In practice, these requirements mean:

  • Supporting workers to understand and implement the core values of the NDIS, including person centred support delivery;
  • Refining recruitment and selection processes to ensure that workers with appropriate skills and values are selected by the organisation to deliver services;
  • Providing workers with relevant training;
  • Providing workers with supervision to ensure that services are being delivered safely, with care and skill; and
  • Discussing with workers to ensure that they are competent and feel comfortable delivering the required supports and services.

In addition, as part of the recruitment and induction process, providers must ensure that:

Incidents & complaints

Registered NDIS Providers must have incident and complaints management systems in place.  It is the responsibility of the provider to ensure that staff are familiar with these systems.  This includes training to ensure that workers are able to identify, respond to, and report incidents and complaints to their supervisor and/or authorities where relevant.

Workers must understand that, in relation to incidents, their first priority is always the safety of people with disability.  Immediately following an incident, workers must ensure, to the best of their ability, that the person with disability is safe, following which they should then follow the provider’s processes for responding to and reporting incidents.

Workers should be familiar with the organisation’s complaints management systems, as well as how to make complaints directly to the NDIS Commission.  Workers are expected to support people to make complaints to the provider or the Commission, and so should be familiar with the appropriate processes for doing so.  Workers must not, under any circumstances, threaten or take adverse action against someone who proposes to make a complaint.

Staff responsibilities

Under the NDIS Code of Conduct, workers are expected to speak up to authority and call out any conduct that is not compliant with the Commission’s rules.  Staff are expected to inform senior staff if they are unable, or do not feel comfortable, to carry out particular tasks in connection with service provision (see p14, NDIS Code of Conduct – Guidance for Workers).

Staff should be aware that they are required under the Code of Conduct to declare any conflicts of interest related to their beliefs and values that may impact on the delivery of services or supports provision (see p19, NDIS Code of Conduct – Guidance for Workers).

All workers should understand that they are able to contact the Commission if they have any concerns regarding the conduct of their employer or others.  In some circumstances, which include the reporting of serious incidents, the Commission has legislative powers to protect those who raise concerns with the Commission.

Fostering a culture that encourages feedback and complaints

It is the responsibility of providers to ensure that they welcome and encourage feedback, and that their staff feel comfortable reporting any misconduct that they witness.  From the provider’s perspective, this involves encouraging and welcoming feedback and complaints.

The organisation should ensure that staff, as well as clients and advocates, will not face any adverse action for raising concerns regarding the conduct of the provider or its staff.  The workforce should be made aware that the provider will not undertake any action in retaliation for a worker raising, in good faith, their concerns about conduct.

How BNG can help

We have a number of resources and self-assessments to help providers ensure that they, and their workers, comply with the Code of Conduct.

  • SPP’s NDIS Code of Conduct self-assessment will walk providers through their obligations, as well as provide resources, policy templates and guidance
  • Worker recruitment, screening and training policy templates and guidance
  • Incident and complaints management system policies and guidance
  • Conflict of interest policy templates and guidance

NDIS Code of Conduct

Want to know more about how BNG can help with the NDIS Code of Conduct? Sign up today!

NDIS Provider obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic

Given how quickly information about COVID-19 is moving, it can be difficult for NDIS Providers to understand what they must do, and what they should do to ensure that their workers and participants are as safe as possible. This blog post will give NDIS Providers a snapshot of the actions they are obligated to take, and the actions that they should take, to minimise the risks to workers and participants.  

Risk management and minimisation is at the heart of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission’s messaging. Workers who are suspected of having, or are at high-risk of having, COVID-19 should be sent home immediately and work from home where possible. Hygiene, and particularly hand hygiene, practices should be reinforced, including proper cough and sneeze etiquette. Workers should also be informed of the organisation’s contingency plan, so that they are able to prepare for implementing activities that will continue to provide critical supports and services to participants, while reducing their risk of exposure to COVID-19. 

Another key theme that both the Commission and the Department of Health are asking providers to focus on is timely communication with the Commission, so that it can conduct risk assessments and help ensure that participants in need are provided with urgent assistance when necessary. This is especially important for providers who become aware of workers and participants who have, or are suspected of having, COVID-19. 

NDIS Provider obligations – the “Must Dos”

NDIS Providers must continue to provide supports in line with the NDIS Practice Standards. In the context of COVID-19, this means providing high quality, safe supports and includes the management of risks associated with service provision. NDIS Providers must: 

  • Manage risks associated with service delivery; 
  • Reduce the provision of group supports to a minimum; 
  • Have a business continuity plan in place which has been recently reviewed; 
  • Ensure workers who are at risk of COVID-19, or displaying symptoms, remain at home; 
  • Prioritise the immediate needs of participants; 
  • Comply with the Restrictions on non-essential services; 
  • Ensure that PPE is available for workers providing essential supports to a participant who is suspected of having COVID-19; and 
  • Notify the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission if there are any changes to your services. 

Best practice actions that providers can take – the “Should Dos”

To minimise the risk of exposure to participants and workers, NDIS Providers should, where possible; 

  • Encourage staff to get flu vaccination; 
  • Ensure there is adequate PPE for staff. PPE can be requested by emailing the National Medical Stockpile; 
  • Provide services virtually where possible; 
  • Reinforce staff hygiene practices. The Department of Health has released an online worker infection control training module; and 
  • Move services to a participant’s home. If this moves a provider to a different support category for which the provider is not registered, they should contact the Commission. 

Restrictive practices

It is important to note that isolating a participant based on medical advice, (consistent with the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer), is not considered an NDIS Commission regulated restrictive practice If a participant is in a form of isolation that is inconsistent with the Chief Medical Officer’s advice, or directions from state and territory governments, it may be considered an environmental restraint or seclusion. 

How BNG can help providers navigate their obligations during COVID-19

We have a number of useful resources that can assist providers to stay prepared and plan for business continuity during the pandemicSome examples of some of our resources relevant to the “should dos” and “must dos” are: 

  • Policy: Business Continuity
  • Policy: Infection Prevention and Control 
  • Policy: Staff Succession Planning 
  • Policy: Risk Management 
  • Template: Staff Succession Plan 

We are currently developing a COVID-19 preparedness self-assessment for SPP, which will help providers to identify and improve their processes in managing a respiratory outbreak. Subscribers will receive an update regarding the COVID-19 preparedness self-assessment in the next week.  

Given the speed of change during this COVID-19 pandemic, providers should keep up to date by checking in as frequently as possible with the latest news from the Department of Health, as well as the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.