Registered vs Unregistered National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Service Providers
When choosing what supports you would like to help you implement your NDIS plan, reach your goals and work towards a better life, you’ll encounter the terms ‘registered and unregistered’ NDIS service providers. There are pros and cons for choosing both types of providers, and it’s a term that often gets misunderstood by people new to the NDIS. So, let’s go through the difference between an NDIS registered and an unregistered provider to get a better understanding of what might be the best for you.
Quick notes about NDIS registered and unregistered service providers
- Only participants who choose to ‘self-manage’ or ‘plan managed’ their NDIS budgets can opt for unregistered providers. National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) managed funds are limited to registered providers.
- Being unregistered does not necessarily reduce the quality or professionalism of a provider
- Smaller providers often can’t take the time and resources to go through the registration process
- The right fit for you could be a mix of both registered and unregistered supports
What is a service provider?
A disability service provider is a term you will hear thrown around a lot within the NDIS and the broader disability support community. A service provider is a person, or external organization contracted to provide additional support or services to an NDIS participant or a person with a disability.
Both registered and unregistered service providers can be contracted for all manner of disability support. Including:
- Information and community engagement
- Equipment and assistive technology
- Health and medicine support
- Personal management services
- Primary carers
- Occupational therapists
- Social workers
And much more.
However, whilst providing much of the same services, there are some critical differences between unregistered and registered providers.
Registered NDIS Providers
An NDIS registered service provider is a person or organisation who has undergone the quality and safety check of the NDIA and adheres to the NDIS commission provider guidelines. For a provider to be accepted as a registered NDIS provider, they must demonstrate they comply with the NDIS practice and standards, the NDIS code of conduct and have an in-house complaints and incident management system in place. All workers who provide care or are in contact with participants or handle their information must be screened and undergo training and education.
There are also certain types of support that only registered NDIS providers can deliver. Direct delivery of support services such as plan management, specialist disability accommodation (SDA), and supported independent living (SIL), as well as services that may involve restrictive practices and behavioural management. These restrictions are in place because these supports may include access to an NDIS participant fund or are extremely costly and only used in unique cases. The NDIS participant is free to choose registered and unregistered providers. At the core of the NDIS is giving people choice and control over their care. However, only participants who are self-managing their funds or who have contracted a plan manager can receive support from unregistered providers. If you are NDIA managed, then you can only choose
NDIS Registered Supports
Potential positives of going with NDIS registered providers
- The registered NDIS service provider is looked upon favourably by the NDIA and will be viewed as reliable, quality, and safe.
- Registered providers are subject to quality review by the NDIA, and as long as they meet the practice standards, they will remain registered.
- With a registered provider, participants have peace of mind that their provider has gone through the framework of the NDIS
- A registered provider will only be able to charge what is set out in the NDIS price guide
- Access to every support service that is available to be funded by the NDIS
- Registered providers operate within NDIS safety requirements
- Registered providers operate within NDIS registration requirements
- Registered providers operate within NDIS worker screening requirements
- Have an in-house complaints process
Potential negatives of going with a registered NDIS provider
- You are limited to only registered providers and may not be able to find the support you need in your local area
- Smaller, more intimate service providers often don’t have the resources to become registered
- If your long-term support worker loses their registration for some reason, you will be unable to use them anymore
- You may end up paying more than you would with an unregistered provider
- You may not be able to find a provider that offers the level of support you require
Unregistered NDIS Providers
An unregistered NDIS service provider is a service provider who has not gone through all of the checks and pre-requisites that a registered NDIS provider has been. But don’t let that alarm you. Just because a service provider is not registered does not automatically mean they provide a sub-par service or operate outside of any guidelines. All health professionals and service providers operate under industry compliance requirements, and you are protected by Australian consumer law. Also, all unregistered providers and their staff must comply with the NDIS code of conduct, and you can still report them to the NDIS commission for not meeting obligations.
The registration process can be daunting for some providers, especially smaller ones, and they may not feel they need to register. If you are self-managed or have a plan manager, you are free to choose unregistered to registered providers.
Potential positives of going with an unregistered provider
- There is a larger pool of disability service providers to choose from
- You have the freedom to continue your working relationship with a disability service provider regardless of their registration status
- You can often find more specialised, smaller providers that might suit your needs
Potential negatives of going with an unregistered provider
- There are extra steps you may need to take to be able to claim funds to pay unregistered providers
- Not all staff of unregistered providers go through the same screening as registered providers
- unregistered providers don’t operate under the same guidelines and requirements of registered providers
- Unregistered providers can charge more than registered providers
- The NDIS may require extra information about the provider during the approval process
- Invoices are submitted to the NDIS participant and not through the NDIS online portal directly
There are pros and cons for both registered and unregistered NDIS service providers. Choosing the right provider for you will come down to your circumstances and needs. The most important thing to remember is that you are always in control of the services you employ to help you on your NDIS journey, and there is always help and advice available to you. If you don’t feel happy with a support, registered or not, you can change providers, make a complaint, or request modifications to how service is delivered. The NDIS is about choice and control and making sure your needs are met.