…or how to complete an NDIS provider self-assessment.
The NDIS Core Module questions can seem very abstract or even irrelevant. New providers might wonder how they can answer the questions when they haven’t been providing services or don’t even have clients. The simple explanation is that the Core Module questions are not about how well, or how frequently, you deliver services. Rather, they ask you to show how your organisation protects participants’ safety, wellbeing and dignity.
The Core Module questions ask about your organisation’s Quality Management System — that’s your policies, procedures and processes. If you don’t know what is in your Quality System or how it works, you’ll find the questions difficult to answer. If you don’t have a Quality System in place, it will be impossible. We’ve discussed Quality Systems elsewhere, so click this link to learn more.
(To be clear, the Core Module ‘questions’ are actually statements about what an organisation should do and are called outcomes and indicators. But it’s useful to think of them as questions, so that’s what we’ll call them).
CORE MODULE ANSWERS: Where to find them
To show how your organisation protects participants, you must provide evidence from relevant parts of your Quality System. If the question is about participant rights and responsibilities, you’d firstly mention your Rights and Responsibilities Policy. If the question is about how your organisation helps participants to understand their rights, the evidence might be harder to find. It might be in your Intake Policy or your Service Delivery Policy.
Quality Systems aren’t just policies. They are called systems for a reason: because each part interacts with others. Your responses should show how one part of your System supports another. First, show what your organisation aims to do (policy) and then how it will achieve its aims (procedures and processes).
For example, how do you make sure participants understand their rights? How are their rights protected? What can participants do if their rights are not respected? How do you improve the system to better protect rights? Your response should mention all processes from each stage of the quality cycle: information packs, feedback and complaints processes, forms, staff training programs, and so on — just keep it brief.
When you’ve identified the policies and processes, check that they are actually relevant. Do they relate to the NDIS? To the participants who will access your services? Do they say what the organisation aims to do and how it will achieve its aims? Are there processes that ensure the policy implementation is monitored, reviewed and improved?
If you can’t respond to a question, it might be because your Quality System has a gap. Or there might be a gap in your understanding. Or a problem understanding what the question actually means. If any of these apply to you — you’re not alone. Much of our work involves translating the NDIS language into plain English, explaining the processes involved in managing Quality and fixing gaps in Quality Systems for organisations large and small. So don’t feel bad, but do get help to fix the problem.
PURCHASING A QUALITY SYSTEM
Purchasing a Quality System can really make setting up the business easier. It can also cause big problems. We’ve discussed the pros and cons here.
A Quality System purchased from a reputable NDIS business support service should include the connecting pieces — forms, registers, review schedules and so on. It should also include a completed self-assessment. This is possible because the self-assessment is based on the Quality System, not your ‘self.’
It should also include some training in how the system works. Imagine trying to assemble flat-packed furniture without the instructions! Your auditor will expect that you know how to use the system.
Purchasing a Quality System always establishes a continuing relationship with a consultant or vendor – for better or worse. So work with someone who can and will work with you when you need it. That’s us, PQplus!
One of our dearly respected clients put it very well:
In hindsight, using PQ Plus to help us build our quality system was one our best early investments. It helped us greatly in three respects. First, it saved us countless hours in having to produce compliant documentation from scratch. Second, it gave us some confidence that we weren’t overlooking any of the finer details of compliance. Third, it was a catalyst for many changes we needed to make to our operations, to ensure we were doing what our quality system required of us. In our first year of operation, we grew from 1 to 75 employees, providing services to about 400 people throughout Melbourne. Our growth has been driven almost entirely by word of mouth, as we quickly built a reputation for delivering high quality psychosocial support services. I doubt we could have achieved what we have achieved so rapidly if we had tried to build our quality system, and apply for NDIS registration, without external help.Aaron Lange (Candella)
Your answers to the Core Module self-assessment questions will reveal how well you understand your Quality System. The more familiar you are with your system, the easier your self-assessment will be. Your audit process will be easier too. If you purchase a System, and if it includes a self-assessment, make sure you understand how it works.
Quality Systems are systems, which means they are complex. Expect to need help when you are just starting out. If a particular question has you flummoxed, there might be a gap in your Quality System or your understanding. Hiding it won’t work and fretting about it won’t help. Fix any problems as they arise and get help if you need it.
Your self-assessment allows auditors to assess your whole Quality Management System, to see if it works as a system — from statement, to implementation, to monitoring, to review, to improvement. It’s also an opportunity to check this for yourself and to get more familiar with how your Quality System works.