What’s needed to go solo in Coordination of Supports?

Libby Ellis is a sole trader that specialises in helping people understand the transformative opportunity of NDIS and empowers them use their funding effectively.

Through her business InCharge, Ms Ellis provides support coordination to individuals as well as other capacity building supports such as skill building or finding a job. She is particularly interested in helping more people understand self-management by running workshops for participants and providers, and providing good information via her blog and other resources.

The work requires constantly gaining new knowledge and high-level organisation skills.

“Support coordination can be a very intensive role. People are coming into a new system and facing very complex issues,” Ms Ellis said.

“Working with people in that context means you need to quickly become an expert on NDIS, but the NDIS is a changing landscape, so getting the right information is hard—you have to almost be like an octopus with many arms in many places,” she said.

“Being able to give people good information, run your business, and be present in people’s lives is very tricky.”

However, she believes the relationship-driven nature of support coordination means that being small and adaptable is an advantage.

“You can be nimble and personable: be willing to be with people and try to make things work for them, as opposed to being limited by an organisation’s policy or definition of a service.””

Why does CoS matter?

Ms Ellis’ commitment to the kind of approach that helps participants make change comes from personal experience—and many years navigating the system to help her brother, who has significant disabilities, to gain assistance, greater control and create his place in the world.

“I often think, this situation could be happening in my own family’s life and what would I want in that situation?”

While Ms Ellis has concerns about participants’ ongoing capacity to access funding for support coordination, she believes the role remains critical for the success of consumer-driven care.

“My feeling is that people need good support over time. It doesn’t just happen in one year that you can manage your NDIS plan and make changes for the better. Life doesn’t happen like that. People develop, learn and grow these skills over time. So it is really an investment in the future success of the Scheme”

Robust systems underpin Support Coordination

Ms Ellis has had to undergo her own transformation in order to develop robust systems that underpin her work: including Comm.care by Pnyx for case management.

She used to rely on separate documents and spreadsheets to store client information and calculate claims, before adopting Comm.care more than a year ago.

“It really helps us keep track of the work we’re doing and to be able to efficiently invoice and bill for that time. It’s simple to use, it’s affordable and it has a NDIS bulk upload feature which is fantastic,” she said.

“I’m a mobile service so I drive to people’s homes and when I finish appointments I’m able to get in the car and make a quick progress note—my system before that was writing things in my diary, and then I’d have to get onto my computer and record it at a later date.”

Using Comm.care to differentiate between billable and non-billable hours also helps Ms Ellis to see where she spends her time, analyse the kinds of tasks involved, and manage internal processes.

She said that for small providers, it was vital to recognise the importance of keeping great notes and legally required documentation.

“If I was to be audited, or have to renew my registration for the NDIS, it helps to have documented evidence of services provided—and especially of your processes around client feedback and complaint handling, all things which lead to service improvement.

“For sole traders or small providers getting started as support coordinators with NDIS that want to get sorted up-front—I would recommend Comm.care.”

We’re grateful to our clients for sharing their insights—get in touch if you’d like to be featured. Learn more about Libby Ellis from InCharge.