What is a one-stop shop?
A one-stop shop is a business that provides all the services you could potentially need. In this context, it means a business that has all the NDIS service providers that you have funding for. For example, one business offering you plan management, support coordination, and therapy services.
To get what you want, and avoid what you don’t want – knowledge is power. It is important to learn about the NDIS in general, and specifically about your options and rights. Even just knowing how to escalate unresolved issues can be a game-changer.
Let’s be honest – the whole experience is time consuming, exhausting, and ever-changing. No sooner do you bring yourself up to date and heave a sigh of relief…when suddenly you get an email from the NDIS informing you of the latest update.
What are the advantages of having a one-stop shop for all of my service providers?
We all have different methods of learning, and the NDIS doesn’t necessarily support that (ironically). We all have differing amounts of time, and we all have different states of emotional stability. Only very few people are able to “study” the NDIS until they know every definition (and contradiction). Most people could spend years on it, and still have no idea!
In typical government-talk fashion, 5 page documents are just the same 3 paragraphs re-written in different ways. Yet, you still have to read the whole document to be 100% sure of that…and then re-read it…and then re-read it again…I can feel you all nodding your heads at me in sympathy, but wondering what on earth this has to do with the subject of the article.
Yes, you still have to do your initial research, and get through the planning stages with your Local Area Co-Ordinator (LAC), and get the funding/fight for the funding. However, when you receive your approved plan, and you go in for your first Co-ordination of Supports (CoS) meeting, suddenly the clouds part and the sun starts shining down because what did they say? You don’t need to go elsewhere? They will take care of you and everything you need here? “Hallelujah” you think, and put away your multi-coloured highlighters, the towering stacks of printed gibberish, and begin day-dreaming about having an actual weekend…
What are the disadvantages of having all of my service providers in one place?
The main factor in determining whether this service model will work, is which service providers are assigned to you. If the individuals assigned to your case are all hard-working and empathetic people who understand the disabilities they are dealing with – why would you change a thing?
Unfortunately, it is far more likely that you get at least a few NDIS service providers that are not a good match, and leave you feeling like an afterthought. Even if you hit gold – there is no guarantee of permanence, with case workers being switched frequently.
When your only experience of the NDIS is with a one-stop-shop that: doesn’t listen to you, gives you bad or incorrect advice, makes you feel your funding is going to run out, or be used for things that are not beneficial…then who do you ask for support?
If your only knowledge of NDIS is what this company chooses to share and explain…it can be a bit difficult to escape. They benefit from you remaining with them and therefore keeping the entirety of your funding package for themselves. This often means that leaving you (or keeping you) in the dark is in their best interest . You can find yourself stuck with endless referrals and staff changes within the company, with not a single recommendation of an external service provider.
Are one-stop shops a conflict of interest?
In NSW, the three LACs are Uniting, St Vincent De Paul Society NSW, and Social Futures. To my knowledge, other than Social Futures, these LACs also offer various NDIS services. This means that from your first planning meeting, you might already be stuck in the merry-go-round of your nightmares.
“Isn’t that a conflict of interest? Aren’t there checks and balances in place to prevent that kind of things from happening?” you might ask. Yes, that is a conflict of interest, and yes there are technically checks and balances in place to prevent this kind of thing. Often, simply declaring a conflict of interest is enough.
I went to an NDIS provider engagement session, and this issue came up in the question time we were given at the end. The NDIS informed us of an entire team dedicated to ensuring these conflicts of interest do not occur. This is just what they have to say. It gives little insight into what is actually happening.
The truth is that Coordinators of Supports were originally meant to be independent service providers, ie; not provide any other types of service. The NDIS changed the rules to allow a CoS provider to offer other services as well, due to a lack of interest.
Things to remember
Keep in mind, NDIS itself has only just finished rolling out across the nation. The first priority was rolling it out across Australia to people already receiving support. The next step was and is to provide funding to those who have never received support before. It is only now that the fine-tuning and tweaking of the system can begin – all while being impacted by COVID-19.
This is less than ideal, and means that reviewing plans, appealing decisions, and responding to complaints takes an incredibly long time. The NDIS system still has many gray areas, and some service providers are enjoying a bit of a “money-grab”. The slow reaction time means they can get away with it for longer than they should.
If you are worried that you are only being seen as the dollars in your NDIS plan, get another opinion. If in doubt, there are many community Facebook groups that are growing in size at an incredible rate.
While it can be daunting entrusting private information in the form of a request for help on the internet, often these strangers care more for your best interests than a “one-stop shop” like the one from Evie’s story.
This article was written in May, 2017. It has been updated and edited in October, 2020.