How to transit Group Services from Ratio based to Apportioned Pricing

Group services are a boon for participants to engage with their peers and community but can be hard to live with for the organisation with ongoing NDIS changes, compliance requirements and workforce challenges, not to mention the admin hours!

To help handle these challenges, we have curated the group services features in our CommCare case management system. They will allow participants to

  • Create group appointments
  • Document group progress notes
  • Claim for group services after each session
  • Better communicate with staff via comments features for managers.
  • Efficiently manage internal administration with smart rostering and timesheet management.
  • Assess and plan recurring schedules of all group services through workforce rostering.
  • Fast Track your cash flow by automatically generating invoices.
  • Save staff time effectively by submitting session notes that will reflect for all the participants & more.

This is all about how our Comm Care’s Group Services feature simplifies the management of group activities conducted and performed by the participants of an organisation.

These are the features that our newly launched group services add-on provides to the participants. Now let’s have a look at how this feature effortlessly helps in transitioning from the existing ratio-based pricing model to apportioned pricing.

What is Ratio-based pricing?

Ratio-based pricing focuses on Hourly rate just like any other line item of the NDIS group services where each participant is assigned a support worker. The hourly rate includes all the costs invested in conducting the group activity: SW (support worker) wages, capital cost (rent), bills, computers/technology cost, senior team member help or 1:1 services after the activity, planning time, etc. Thus, we realise that the organisations had to invest more money rather than gain anything. This explains the limited take-up of group support services among the organisations.

Fortunately, NDIS did try to make significant changes, and many of you might be aware that the new ‘apportioned pricing’ model will be introduced on 1st July 2022. It is a huge change in how one can charge for group services. Let’s elaborate…

What is apportioned pricing?

It is also called ‘Divided Pricing’, where we have a fixed hourly rate which is multiplied to support workers’ time and divided among the participants.

Apportioned pricing = Fixed hourly rate * SW(Support Worker) time / Total number of participants

This does not necessarily mean deciding the rate equally among the participants, which is great as the participant pays for services they receive apart from the fixed costs. The participant is charged based on the time of service.

The ‘flat rate’ that you decide for the service, unlike ratio-based pricing, doesn’t pay for everything. All the overheads and extra support activities are charged separately to the participant. This increases the profitability of the business and covers the additional costs like capital costs (rent), bills, computers/technology costs, etc.

As per the new pricing model, it is clear that the participant will be paying more than what they used to, so the transition can be tricky for you to justify and implement for the ongoing service delivery. So let’s look at some of the best practices that can help to make your transition easier.

Best practices to transition from ratio-based to apportioned pricing

You can consider the following practices for transitioning group support services from ratio-based to apportioned pricing models.

Best practices to transition from ratio-based to apportioned pricing

  • *Inform* the participant and their families

The first step is to get the consent of the participants or their carers regarding the new pricing changes. You are legally required to inform participants if there are any changes to your organisation’s prices. This is about choice and control for the participant.

  • *Justify* the new apportioned pricing model and why you adapt it

Justify why apportioned pricing is better for your organisation and how & why NDIS has rolled out the new pricing model for providing better care and individualised support to the participants.

  • *Demonstrate* the working of the new pricing model and document their consent

Demonstrate and document that the participant or responsible person understands the change by signing the consent form/contract agreement.

  • Make the participants Aware of the flexible pricing

The biggest advantage of this pricing model is that it is very flexible. Therefore it lets the participants decide what they need and have control over their budgets, and it aids in receiving additional services like transport, Non-Face to Face, or one-to-one after support. Although it can be tricky for the admin staff to process different invoices for the same group of people, Comm Care allows you easily process those in no time.

  • Create a *Program of Support*

Program of Support is a plan with a ‘fixed rate’ for the common service delivery among all the group participants. We know that this contrasts with what we call ‘flexibility’. Still, on the managerial end, you will notice incidents like participants cancelling at the last moment or participants leaving between the activity or between the planned group of sessions. This breaks the activity’s whole budget and financial planning throughout the planning period. Therefore, creating a Program of Support lets you as an organisation control these end moment nightmare. This prevents you from losing money over the participant’s choice.

Why do you need a Program of Support (POS) to better manage your NDIS group of supports?

Program of Supports to better manage your NDIS group of supports

  • It provides more certainty to the participant about the services going ahead. Also, it responds to provider stress as it decreases the chance of the organisation going out of pocket or incurring losses.
  • As per the NDIS Price Guide, providers can claim against the participants’ plans who entered the POS whether or not they did attend the session, as long as the provider could deliver the support. This also means that the supports agreed to in POS are not subject to ‘short notice cancellation rules’. This gives certainty to the providers to prevent any overhead/out-of-pocket costs.
  • Let’s say, for example, if 2 participants drop out of the sessions mid-way or skip some sessions without giving any prior notice, you as an organisation can still claim the support as per the rules.
  • It is a good strategy to focus on more participants with similar goals so a common outcome can be designed.
  • It reduces workforce costs as 1:1 support is reduced.
  • It reduces a significant amount of admin time in terms of rostering/scheduling and billing. The sessions are planned and the supports are fixed so the claims can be processed in bulk without additional line items to learn or enter.
  • As per NDIS Price Guide (Pg 27), one can bill after every session. This means it assures better cash flow for the organisation.
  • POS gives organisations a chance to experiment with new supports to which they do not want to commit full time. It helps you identify the opportunity and barriers of planned services to be taken into account if you decide to turn it into a full-time support activity.

Comm care helps your organisation in every step, ensuring a smooth transition for your organisation. Create Group appointments, progress notes and claims after each session in minutes and focus on what you do best!

Some line items that can be charged seperately with the new apportioned pricing

You will notice that the new apportioned pricing lets you add the CCC (Centre Capital Costs) and extra 1:1 or Non-face-to-face (NF2F) support as additional line items, in contrast to the ratio pricing where everything was included.

1:1 or NF2F supports use the same line item as the main support, but for individual time spent apart from the main service delivery, such as meeting with parents, report writing, etc. These line items give the chance to compensate for the loss, as opposed to the previous pricing.

Keep in mind, you should be able to justify the claims that you create for group services.

Simplify your group support service transition from ratio-based to apportioned pricing with our Comm Care Group Services feature today!