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Support Coordinator vs Plan Manager – What is the difference

Sep.28.2023 By Natalie Woodbridge MyIntegra Updates

If you are just starting out with your first NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) plan it can seem like a whirlwind at the outset. Even if you’ve had a plan before, it’s completely understandable to feel overwhelmed. As you learn to navigate a complex network of services, you’ll come across a variety of service providers, each playing a unique role in your NDIS journey. 

For those just starting out, it’s not uncommon to find the roles of support coordinators and plan managers a bit confusing, often wrongly thinking they’re the same service with different names.

While both NDIS Support Coordinators and Plan Managers work to help you manage your plan and streamline your NDIS experience, they each serve distinct and separate functions. By getting to know the key differences between these two services, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions about what services you need and what’s included in your NDIS plan. 

Plus, you’ll be able to lighten the load when it comes to planning, organising and managing the wide range of supports available in your plan.

So, Support Coordinator vs Plan Manager – what are they, and what’s the difference? 

What is a Support Coordinator?

Imagine having a dedicated ally by your side, someone who truly understands your unique needs and aspirations as an NDIS participant. 

That’s what an NDIS Support Coordinator is all about. 

The ultimate mission of a Support Coordinator is to help you tap into the support and services you need to reach the goals you’ve set in your plan.

Together, you and your Support Coordinator will navigate your NDIS journey, unlocking your potential and fostering a fulfilling life based on your personal goals.

Support Coordination falls under Capacity Building Supports within your NDIS plan. There are 3 levels of NDIS Support Coordination that a participant can access as part of their plan. 

1. Support Connection

Support Coordinators will work with you to set up your necessary supports. Limited to just a few hours, this service is designed to help you lay the foundation for your initial plan and introduce you to service providers.

They’re your guides, and your champions, committed to making your NDIS experience as empowering and beneficial as possible.

2. Coordination of Supports

Think of this service as a guiding hand, providing you with the knowledge and self-assurance you need to thrive in your NDIS journey. With Coordination of Supports, that’s precisely what you get. You can expect your coordinator to spend a few hours each week with you, ensuring that you’re not just accessing your plan but truly making it work in a way that resonates with your unique needs and goals.

They’re there to help you connect with service providers, set up your agreements, review your supports and resolve any issues. The essence of Coordination of Supports lies in the focus on educating and inspiring you as an NDIS participant. Its goal is to encourage you to gradually take the reins and confidently manage your own plan and supports in the future. 

3. Specialist Support Coordinator

Specialist Support Coordination provides a higher level of support for situations that are more complex and require specialist assistance.

Specialist Support Coordinators bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise, ensuring that even the most complex scenarios are handled with the utmost care and attention. 

What is a plan manager?

Unlike Support Coordinators, who work closely with service providers to help you access support, NDIS Plan Managers are all about the admin. Their expertise lies in managing the payments to service providers on your behalf, keeping track of your budgets to reduce the potential of overspending or underspending, and maintaining a clear record of your expenses.

Plan Managers also offer you invaluable insights through regular reports, allowing you to stay in control and make informed decisions about your NDIS journey. They take care of one of the more stressful aspects of accessing the NDIS: handling the financials. They also make sure that all spending is accounted for and managed.

There are three ways to manage your NDIS plan:

  • Self-managed
  • Agency-managed
  • Plan-managed

You can read more about these options in our previous blog

How does the NDIS fund support coordination vs plan management?

You can request a Support Coordinator to be funded in your plan during your planning meeting. Keep in mind that funding for Support Coordination isn’t a given, as the NDIA must determine that it’s both ‘reasonable and necessary.’ They’ll consider a number of factors like existing family support before making a decision. 

If Support Coordination is included in your plan, it will be added to your Capacity Building Budget.

Plan Management is available to anyone who asks for it in their planning meeting. The budget for Plan Management is separate from your other supports and budgets. Even if you’ve already embarked on your NDIS journey, you can still request Plan Management to be included in your plan by reaching out to your LAC or planner.

Support Coordination and Plan Management – are they right for me?

Deciding if you need a Plan Manager, Support Coordinator, or both is a personal choice and based on your unique needs and circumstances. 

If you’re seeking someone to help you understand your budgets, pay invoices fast, and manage NDIS financial matters, a Plan Manager might be right for you. They can handle invoices, keep longstanding financial records, and help you manage and understand your budget and spending. The NDIS funds Plan Management for everyone that wants to access this service, so you can focus on achieving your goals rather than getting bogged down with all the paperwork.

If you’re an NDIS newcomer or had a plan before but are feeling a bit daunted by coordinating support and services or have complex needs, support coordination could be right for you. They can connect you with service providers, help you negotiate service agreements, resolve any issues and help you review your supports to ensure they are working well for you. Not everyone is eligible to have Support Coordination funded in their NDIS plan. You will need to discuss this with your LAC, ECEI or planner and make a request to the NDIA to have it included.

Ready to get started?

If you are ready to get started with NDIS Plan Management or NDIS Support Coordination, or both, we are here to help. We can answer any questions you may have and help you navigate your NDIS plans with ease. With a better understanding of the difference between the two service, you’ll be well on your way to making the most of your NDIS plan and getting the support you need to achieve your goals.

Call, message, or email us to get in touch, and we can get started together.

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