The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can be confusing! Especially when you’ve never heard of some of the terms used to describe the many different roles and services involved. An area that can be unclear for many, is the differences between the three roles of Local Area Coordinator (or LAC), Support Coordinator and Plan Manager.
Let’s start by separating them broadly.
- LACs are an integral part of delivering the NDIS to local communities. They help you access the NDIS and then provide you with support to connect you to providers or organisations so you can make the most of your plan. Where you have additional or complex support needs, or there isn’t a LAC available in your area, you may be given extra funding for a Support Coordinator.
- A Support Coordinator provides more specialised help and will support you to develop the skills you need to understand and implement your NDIS plan.
- A Plan Manager will help you with managing the financial administration of your NDIS funding.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at each role.
What is a Local Area Coordinator or LAC?
LACs are local workers who are from an NDIS partnered organisation. These organisations are called LAC Partners in the Community and they are contracted by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to deliver the NDIS to local communities.
A LAC is the person you meet with for your first planning meeting. In some cases, you might meet directly with the NDIS through an NDIA Planner or if you’re 0 to 6 years old, an Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) Practitioner.
It’s important to understand LACs don’t decide whether you are eligible for the NDIS or the level of funding you may be eligible for. This is decided by someone at the NDIA.
The role of a LAC is to help you understand and access the NDIS, and if eligible, help you to create a plan. If your plan is approved by the NDIA, your LAC can help you get started by connecting you to the information and services in your community that align with your plan’s goals, plus show you how to use the myplace portal.
The LAC is also your NDIS contact person and can answer any questions you have. They may check-in to see how you’re progressing, and at plan review time, they will work with you to make changes to your plan.
A LAC is generally supporting you at a Support Connection level.
What is a Support Coordinator?
Support Coordination may be funded in your NDIS plan where you need some extra help getting your providers set up and accessing the resources you need. It could be because your plan is complex or there are other reasons that make it hard for you to implement the plan yourself.
A Support Coordinator is a NDIS registered provider, who will help you to understand your plan, find service providers and products best able to meet your individual needs, and help you at review time.
They go further, by coordinating a mix of supports designed to maximise your plan, ensuring you are getting the most out of your funds and you are exercising your choice and control.
A Support Coordinator will help with the finer details too, such as assisting you to negotiate with providers about the supports and services they will offer, how much it will cost, and resolve points of conflict.
The idea is you’ll be building your capacity to act independently along the way, so that you are empowered to coordinate your own supports in the future and participate in your community.
Support Coordinators are generally funded at the Coordination of Supports or Specialist Support Coordination level.
What is a Plan Manager?
Management… coordination… it all starts to sound the same, right? Well a Plan Manger is very different and should not to be confused with the title ‘NDIA Planner’.
Where a Support Coordinator is all about helping you with your supports, a Plan Manager is there to help you look after the funding in your NDIS plan.
Plan Management is one of the options you can choose amongst managing the funds yourself (Self-Managed), letting the NDIA do it (Agency-Managed), or a mix of these options.
You can ask your LAC or Planner to include Plan Management in your NDIS plan. Additional funding is allocated in your plan specifically for this purpose. It is not held to the ‘reasonable and necessary’ test.
A Plan Manager is registered with the NDIS and will help you with administrative tasks such as paying your service providers and claiming from the NDIS, keeping track of your spending and maintaining financial records.
When you use a Plan Manager you can choose supports from both registered and unregistered providers such as a gardener, cleaner or organisations and therapists who have chosen not to register.
Using a Plan Manager is a good way to reduce the administrative burden and free up your time, have choice over the providers you use and get control of your funds - all whilst having a partner there helping you to navigate the NDIS.
If you think you could do with the help of a Support Coordinator or Plan Manager, call the friendly team at Integra. We’re registered to provide Support Coordination and Plan Management across Australia and can point you in the right direction no matter where you are on your NDIS journey.
What is Support Coordination?
How to get Support Coordination
What is Plan Management?
How to get Plan Management