Let’s be clear. Providers are not required by the NDIS to issue Welcome Packs. Nonetheless, they can be valuable aids for NDIS compliance. The information in Welcome Packs can really help NDIS participants and their supporters understand about their rights and how a service provider protects them. And that’s what the NDIS Practice Standards require – in a nutshell.
Obviously, we aren’t talking about pens and travel mugs and stress balls. Marketing is not our expertise. We’re all about helping NDIS providers understand and manage Quality and Safeguarding.
As with all things related to NDIS Quality: it’s not what you have, but how you use it that matters. So how can providers use Welcome Packs to comply with the NDIS Practice Standards?
Promoting NDIS Participant Understanding
The NDIS Practice Standards promote certain objectives. In this case, the important NDIS objective is choice and control. NDIS participants have the right to make informed choices. It’s important that they can access the information needed to determine what’s best for them.
The NDIS Practice Standards state specific topics on which information must be provided. These include: rights and obligations, the conditions under which supports are provided and might be withdrawn or denied, the risks involved and how the service providers manages incidents and information security, and how to make complaints about the service. Welcome Packs are a great way to provide this information, not least because participants and their supporters can keep referring back to the material until they are satisfied.
However, it’s not enough that the information is available; the NDIS Practice Standards require that participants understand the information. One way to ensure that NDIS participants understand is to explain the information in easy-to-read language.
Of course, there are other ways to ensure that NDIS participants understand their rights, and providers should use all the tools at their disposal. Welcome Packs have the advantage of acting as a marker, a known starting point to which the other techniques can refer. That’s the key to turning Welcome Packs into evidence for audit.
How to create Audit Evidence
So far, we’ve discussed how Welcome Packs can give NDIS participants the best chance of understanding their rights. But, equally, participants can ignore information. And if they do read it, the language of rights and incident management can be a little technical, even when written in plain language. How can NDIS providers ensure participants understand? And, because preparing for audit means turning collecting evidence of compliance, what serves as evidence of understanding?
The NDIS Practice Standards require providers to demonstrate that participants understand. Welcome Packs don’t ensure understanding, they merely provide the opportunity for understanding. They are, therefore, only partial evidence of compliance with the Standards.
Evidence of understanding might include feedback and review-process responses. If providers demonstrate that participants make use of the supplied information, this will strengthen the evidence significantly. For example: complaints records.
As we’ve said: it’s not about having a Welcome Pack, but how you use it that matters.
Free PQplus Welcome Packs Templates
Knowing how useful they can be, we routinely advised our clients to develop Welcome Packs. But writing easy English is not so easy. To support compliance, the information in Welcome Packs needs to be correct and address all the issues required. That means the writer needs a comprehensive knowledge of the NDIS Practice Standards. We worried that providers might not have the resources to create packs.
That’s not good for our clients, but it’s also bad for NDIS participants. So when we took on the challenge of creating Welcome Pack templates, we decided to release them to all NDIS providers, for free.
The design had to be generic to support compliance in a wide variety of NDIS services. It had to be modifiable without need for expensive graphics software. And suit a range of printing options.
Because they were created by PQplus, you can be confident that the information is correct, and that they work strategically to satisfy NDIS compliance requirements – so long as you follow the advice in this article. We know they are used by large and small NDIS providers across Australia. So it seems they’ve worked out OK.
We’re now celebrating 1000 downloads of our free Welcome Pack templates. The templates are Word documents, and fully customisable. Providers can use the templates in any way they want (as long as they don’t sell them!). Print them as they are, or use only the text. If you’ve downloaded the PQplus Welcome Pack Template, we’d love to hear how they’ve worked for you. Like Lorraine did….
Your ‘Welcome’ pack is a fantastic aid for us and participants.
The brochures are clear and concise, thanks for availing these to everyone!
Kind regards, Lorraine Auvinet (Energon Australia)
Thanks, Lorraine. We appreciate that a lot!