“Compliance”. It’s a confusing word that can have different meanings for different people and causes most people to shudder at the sound of it. Unfortunately, though, as a NDIS provider, Compliance is a word we need to get really familiar and comfortable with.
Compliance isn’t just about doing what we need to do to keep our NDIS registration. Most importantly, it’s about the systems and processes we have in place to make sure the services we provide are of a high quality – and safe – for the people who use them.
The good thing about all this is that NDIS Compliance doesn’t have to be hard. There are lots of systems and supports out there that can help you keep on top of things in a streamlined and organised way. I’ve provided five easy tips and tricks below to help you do this.
1. Know what you need to comply with!
There’s a lot out there to be across when it comes to keeping up with your compliance responsibilities. In my opinion, the best place to start is the NDIS Practice Standards. Get to know them. Well.
When you have a good understanding of what Standards apply to your service delivery, what each Standard requires of you (the Outcome) and how you need to demonstrate this (the Indicators) you’ll find putting the requirements into practice much, much easier.
2. Involve Your Entire Team.
Everybody employed in your business has a role to play in its operations. Therefore, they also have a role to play in the quality of services provided, and ensuring service delivery complies with the relevant requirements. And so, everyone in your business – from the Board, Executive Team, and Managers, through to direct care workers, need to understand why their job is important, how they personally contribute to the quality and safety of your services, and what they need to do to support this.
There are many ways you can do this, including:
- Making quality and compliance part of Job Descriptions
- Induction and regular training
- Discussing quality and compliance matters at team meetings and staff planning days
- Giving people set responsibilities and associated performance targets regarding compliance activities and
- Connecting each role with your business’ Vision, Mission, and Values, and the service user’s experience.
3. DO what you say you’ll do.
Walking the talk is the absolute key to good compliance. It seems straightforward, but providers not doing what their policies and procedures say they’ll do is one of the most common causes of non-conformance at audit. AND it’s the perfect recipe for confused, inconsistent, and sub-par service delivery.
Create a culture of Compliance in your business by:
- Making sure staff are doing what policies and procedures say they’ll do - train them to do things the right way and provide refresher training. Monitor performance and provide constructive feedback through performance review processes. And if the process you want to follow doesn’t match your policies and procedures, update them!
- Rewarding good compliance – recognise staff who do things the right way. And don’t limit it to managers or compliance staff. As I mentioned above, everyone has an important role to play in compliance. Find and make a positive example of people who are doing that on a day-to-day basis
- Ensuring you have evidence in place that shows you’re doing what you say you’ll do. For example, if your Feedback and Complaints Policy and Procedure says you’ll provide all participants with a Feedback and Complaints form, do that. If it says you’ll keep a record of feedback and complaints in a Register – do that, and ensure the Register is easily accessible to the relevant staff and always up to date and
- Making it easy and comfortable for staff - and participants! - to raise concerns or identify things that need to be improved. When people feel safe to do this, they’ll become an invaluable source of information. That means you’ll often be able to address small issues or problems before they become really big ones.
4. Put Dedicated Time Aside to Spend on Quality and Compliance.
This is another one that seems straightforward, but it can be really hard to do in practice.
Even if it’s half an hour a week, any time spent on quality and compliance is better than none, and it will keep you organised and audit ready. And most importantly, get your staff to do the same. Make sure direct care staff have time to complete important things like Case Notes. Give your Governing Body time in its meetings to review quality and compliance issues, and risks, incidents, and feedback and complaints. Make compliance activities a normal part of your everyday practice – not an add-on you have to scramble to find time for.
5. Don’t Do It Alone!
This may be the last point, but it’s by no means the least! Increasingly, our world is asking us to do more and more with less – less time, less money, less energy.
But you don’t have to go it alone. Whether it’s a great case management system like Comm.Care by Pnyx, compliance platforms like Provider Institute of Australia, or your local Community of Practice, streamlining your work with fit-for-purpose systems, and tapping into the expertise and experience of others, could very well be your single most important investment in your business’ compliance. Not only will they save you time and money, help you grow your business, and enable you to deliver high quality and safe services, they’ll also – hopefully! – prevent you ending up like this:
Christine Dempsey is a Managing Director of the Provider Institute of Australia, a national compliance support service for NDIS and other community sector providers. Christine has extensive experience supporting businesses to operate in sectors heavily regulated by government and has supported hundreds of NDIS providers to build their NDIS compliance requirements into their everyday practice.Visit Author