Planners, LACs, Support Coordinators & Plan Managers - what are they?
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Before the National Disability Insurance Scheme was developed most services were based on a block-funded system, whereby organisations were contracted by State or Federal governments to deliver services to a certain value - e.g.: $5 million to support 100 individuals.
It was up to the individual organisations to allocate the funding according to the needs they saw within their consumer cohort. This often meant that a person with a disability would be reliant upon a single entity for the funding, the service provision, and their case management.
NDIS has radically changed this model to encourage participants to utilise a variety of service providers and also to change providers whenever they need. This new model ensures that participants have greater choice as a consumer, and also are not reliant on a single provider.
However, this model has also raised the complexity given there are thousands of providers to choose from and a lot of communication and negotiation to consider. A small proportion of NDIS participants will be comfortable and confident to do this work themselves, but the vast majority of participants will likely need some assistance to navigate the NDIS, engage providers, negotiate their services, and manage their funds.
Lets explain the different roles:
A Planner is an employee of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and they assist participants to develop a funding plan that covers their needs and to meet their stated goals. Planners will compile all the relevant information and recommend a funding plan but the actual approval may require assessment at a higher level.
Generally, a participant will be assigned an NDIA Planner when their circumstances are a little more complex, like having more than one participant in the same household. People leaving hospital or in acute rehabilitation, and residents in aged care may receive specialised planners.
Planners do not provide day to day assistance to a participant so a Support Coordinator is usually recommended to assist a participant to implement their plan.
Local Area Coordinator
The LAC works for a 'Partner' organisation and has a similar role to the Planner, however they are also responsible for assisting participants to connect with disability providers, mainstream, and community services when Support Coordination isn't funded. LACs do not have significant time to spend with every participant and will not be able to provide the same level of service as an LAC.
An LAC also delivers Information, Linkages, and Connections (ILC) to individuals that may not qualify for an NDIS funding plan.
Unlike Planners and LACs, a Support Coordinator is an independent service provider funded through a participant's plan. This role is similar to an LAC but is allocated more time (funded hours) to engage, assist, facilitate, coordinate, and report. There are three levels of Support Coordination services available depending upon the participant's circumstances and needs. Support Coordination is generally seen as a 'time limited' and 'capacity-building' service, which means there is an expectation that this support will diminish over time as a participant develops their capacity to manage their own services.
In addition to having assistance with coordinating services, some participants will choose to have an independent third party to manage the financial administration of a plan. Primarily this service receives invoices from service providers, checks they are are within the guidelines, confirms approval with a participant, processes a claim with the NDIA, and then pays the provider. The plan manager is fully funded within a participant's plan and provides greater control for a participant (compared to agency managed funds) without the additional burden that comes with self-management.
Each of these roles has an important part to play in ensuring choice and control for every participant and it is important for each of these partners/providers to work together in assisting a participant to implement their plan and reach for their goals.
Talk to My Coordinator about which combination of specialists will work best for your circumstances.