The NDIS Quality and compliance system can seem confusing. And then there’s audits! We hope this FAQ sheet will help clear things up a little.
What are the NDIS Practice Standards?
The NDIS Practice Standards are the standards against which NDIS providers are audited, with different ‘Modules’ to encompass the variety of services provided in the NDIS marketplace. The Standards reflect the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework, and the laws with which providers must comply.
The NDIS Practice Standards are the basis of provider self-assessments and audits. Note, however, that the Standards neither mention specific laws and regulations nor specify how providers should manage compliance. The Standards express the NDIS objectives as ‘outcomes’. Providers are responsible for how those outcomes are achieved. For example, the Standards simply state:
“A quality management system is maintained that is relevant and proportionate to the size and scale of the provider and the scope and complexity of the supports delivered. The system defines how to meet the requirements of legislation and these standards. The system is reviewed and updated as required to improve support delivery.”
Provider Governance and Operational Management: Quality Management
Although providers are responsible for determining what that Quality Management System looks like, the community sector has developed techniques for managing Quality. Auditors expect to see these conventions used.
Why do I need an audit?
Firstly, there’s no option. All NDIS providers must undergo audit as part of the registration (or registration renewal) process. (In Western Australia providers are assessed under the state-based approval process. In all other states providers are assessed against the NDIS Practice Standards). Audits ensure that services are delivered safely and consistently across Australia, and that’s why audits are conducted by ‘Approved Quality Auditors’.
Secondly, audits help providers to plan more effectively, and compete in the NDIS marketplace. They evaluate services and encourage the collection of data that providers can use to promote better services and organisational growth. If it’s mandatory, why not make the best of it?
What type of audit do I need?
There are two types of NDIS audit: ‘Certification’ audits and ‘Verification’ audits. The type of audit required depends on two things:
- the organisation’s company structure and
- the supports (registration groups) provided
Verification Audits currently apply to sole traders and partnerships delivering low-risk supports; Certification Audits apply to all other providers.
What are NDIS Verification Audits?
Verification Audits are conducted off-site. The auditors review policies and other organisational documentation, provide a report and then make their recommendation to the NDIS Commission.
What are NDIS Certification Audits?
Certification Audits are conducted in two stages, and are a lot larger (and more expensive) than Verification audits.
Stage 1: Document review — the auditors will review your policies, and may ask for examples of how you’ve implemented your policies. You will receive a report at the end of Stage 1 that will identify any Areas of Concern, which the auditor will examine more closely in Stage 2.
Stage 2: This is an onsite visit from the auditors to review your documentation (again) and examine issues that were noted as Areas of Concern in Stage 1. They will also review staff files and participant files.
Interviews: Auditors interview staff and participants to confirm that policies are understood and put into practice. Participants’ involvement in the NDIS audits are on an ‘opt-out’ basis. You must ask your participants whether they want to be involved. If they don’t, always document the reason why. Document everything!
Audit Report: At the end of Stage 2, you will receive a report. Non-conformances will be highlighted in the report. The auditors will require you to create a ‘Corrective Action Plan’ detailing how will you fix the problems identified.
TIP: For more detailed guidance about gathering evidence and preparing for Certification Audits, download our Audit Guide: Working with the NDIS Practice Standards
What are Low and High Risk NDIS Supports?
LOW RISK NDIS SUPPORTS
- Accommodation/Tenancy Assistance
- Assistive Products for Personal Care and Safety
- Personal Mobility Equipment
- Assistance with Travel/Transport Arrangements
- Vehicle Modifications
- Home Modification Design and Construction
- Assistive Equipment for Recreation
- Vision Equipment
- Community Nursing Care
- Innovative Community Participation
- Specialised Hearing Services
- Therapeutic Supports
- Plan Management — Management of Funding for Supports
- Household Tasks
- Interpreting and Translation
- Hearing Equipment
- Assistive Products in Household Tasks
- Communication and Information Equipment
HIGH RISK NDIS SUPPORTS
- Assistance to Access and Maintain Employment or Higher Education [Assist Access/Maintain Employ]
- High Intensity Daily Personal Activities
- Assistance in Coordinating or Managing Life Stages, Transitions and Supports [Life Stage, Transition]
- Daily Personal Activities
- Specialist Positive Behaviour Support
- Assistance with Daily Life Tasks in a Group or Shared Living Arrangement [Daily Tasks/Shared Living]
- Development of Daily Living and Life Skills [Development-Life Skills]
- Early Intervention Supports for Early Childhood
- Participation in Community, Social, and Civil Activities [Participate Community]
- Specialist Disability Accomodation [Specialist Accom]
- Support Coordination
- Specialised Supported Employment
- Group and Centre-Based Activities [Group/Centre Activities]
How much does an NDIS audit cost?
The Approved Quality Auditor you choose will provide a quote for the audit depending on the ‘Scope of Audit’ you receive as a result of your NDIS Commission application/renewal application.
Prices will vary depending on the registration groups (services and supports) delivered, the number of staff, number of participants you currently provide services to, and the number of sites from which you deliver services. Prices also vary between auditing bodies. So it’s worth obtaining a few quotes.
What happens if I fail the audit?
NDIS audits are not pass or fail situations. ‘Major non-conformances’ must be fixed within three months of your audit. Any ‘Minor non-conformances’ you receive need to be addressed within 12 months of your audit.
If you’re unable to address the issues, or the auditors’ recommendation to the NDIS Commission is not to approve certification or verification, the auditors will discuss this with you and the implications for your registration.
Can we get help with NDIS audits?
NDIS providers are permitted to receive help in preparing for and conducting their audits. It’s great to have an expert on side. Professional preparation means less stress and fewer non-conformances.
PQplus helps providers prepare for and conduct audits. We’ve helped large and small organisations. We can check your policies, conduct internal audits or assist on-site during a Stage 2 Certification Audit. Better still, we believe in passing on the skills. We work with you, explaining the processes and coaching staff so you’ll be better equipped for the next audit cycle.
Your auditors will help a lot, but there’s a limit to what they can do. They cannot advise the clients they audit. It would be a conflict of interest. We are trusted by auditing companies to help providers solve problems revealed at audit. In truth, we would rather help you prepare than repair.