Here at Leap in! HQ, one of the common questions we get asked is, “what types of providers can I pay with my NDIS funding?”.
The NDIS offers the freedom and flexibility to choose how your NDIS Plan and funds are managed to suit your needs. One of the great advantages of being plan managed is you have the option to use providers that aren’t registered with the NDIS (called non-registered providers or unregistered providers).
Using non-registered providers opens up an extensive network of supports and services that can help you to reach your goals.
Today we’re busting some myths about using non-registered providers, giving you the confidence to choose the supports that are right for you.
Registered and non-registered providers: What’s the difference?
A registered provider is an individual or a business that is registered with the NDIS to provide supports or services to people with an NDIS Plan. Registered providers need to go through a series of checks to ensure they meet NDIS guidelines.
A non-registered provider is an individual or business that provides supports or services and is not registered with the NDIS (although they are required to follow the NDIS Code of Conduct). Some examples are private businesses, services that also help people in the wider community, non-profit organisations, online stores, retail shops and allied health professionals.
Myth 1: I can only use providers that are registered with the NDIS.
Fact: The providers you use depends on how your plan is managed.
The providers you can use depends on how you choose to manage your NDIS Plan.
Plan management: Use registered or non-registered providers
Self manage: Use registered or non-registered providers
Combination plan: Use registered or non-registered providers for the portion of your plan that is self managed or plan managed
Agency managed: You can only use NDIS-registered providers.
Reasons you may want to use a non-registered provider:
- More choice of providers
- Registered providers in your area don’t have capacity to take on new clients
- You worked with a provider before moving to the NDIS who is not NDIS registered and want to keep using them
- You found a provider you like who is not registered with the NDIA
- An item you need to purchase with your NDIS funding (such as assistive technology) is only available through a non-registered provider (like a shop or online).
Myth 2: Non-registered providers are less qualified or experienced.
Fact: Many non-registered providers are highly qualified and experienced in their fields.
Whether a provider is registered or non-registered is unrelated to their qualifications or experience. Registration is time-consuming, especially for a small business or someone who works independently.
Many non-registered providers are highly qualified in their fields such as occupational therapists or speech therapists. Others may be very experienced at what they do, like support workers or lawn mowing companies. Some sell items recommended by people with relevant qualifications or registered providers (for example, fidget toys purchased online).
Whether you use a registered or non-registered provider, it is worth checking on their qualifications and online reviews to help assess if they’re the right fit for you. Google or Facebook reviews are an excellent place to start.
Myth 3: I can’t use sole traders or small businesses for services like therapy, cleaning, garden maintenance or support work.
Fact: You can use sole traders or small businesses if you are plan managed or self manage.
If you are plan managed, self manage or have a combination of the two, you can pay sole traders or other small businesses with your NDIS funds providing the support is reasonable and necessary.
Examples include online stores that sell assistive technology, physical shops that sell consumable items such as nappies or nutrition aid, and support workers who may work independently.
All they need is an Australian Business Number (ABN) and any qualifications and/or credentials (such as Working With Vulnerable People or Working With Children Checks) relevant to the type of service/s they provide.
The payment process differs depending on whether you are plan managed or self manage.
Myth 4: I can’t change how my plan is managed between plans.
Fact: You can change how your plan is managed at any time.
You can switch the way your plan is managed by calling the NDIS or your Local Area Coordinator and requesting a light-touch review. Alternatively, you can wait until your next Plan Review meeting.
If you’re Agency managed and want the flexibility to use any provider for one budget area, you can choose to have only that portion of your budget plan managed (or self manage). For example, if you want to use an unregistered therapist for Capacity Building supports, you may decide to change to plan management for this budget only.
Myth 5: Unregistered providers cost more.
Fact: Unregistered providers can cost more, less or the same.
The NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Pricing Limits guide sets limits on how much you can claim for services and supports paid for by NDIS funding, usually at an hourly rate.
NDIS-registered providers are unable to charge more than the NDIS price limits. Non-registered providers can charge less than, more than or the same as the approved price limit.
We recommend negotiating a service agreement with each provider (registered and non-registered) so you know exactly how much they cost and can check the amount aligns with your budget. Be sure to ask about additional things you may be charged for such as cancellation or travel costs.
Myth 6: If I am Agency managed, I get more help with my NDIS Plan.
Fact: The amount of help you get to manage your plan depends on its structure.
There are various ways to get help with managing your NDIS Plan. One of the most popular is working with a plan manager. Anyone can ask for plan management at a plan meeting, plan review or at any time.
Using a plan manager like Leap in! for all or part of your NDIS Plan gives you the freedom to use registered and non-registered providers as well as get help with paying invoices, managing your plan and NDIS-related guidance.
Want to know more?
If you’d like to speak to a member of our crew to learn more about switching to plan management or how you can get more from your NDIS Plan, call us on 1300 05 78 78 or email us at email@example.com.
Originally published on 29 July 2020, updated 12 October 2021 and 09 May 2022.