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Vacancy Coordination Team by DHHS Policy

Offering residency in Specialist Disability Accommodation - Policy and Standards (Victoria)

May 2017    

 

To receive this publication in an accessible format, please email publishing.services@dhhs.vic.gov.au or phone 9096 1585 using the National Relay Service 13 36 77 if required.

Authorised and published by the Victorian Government, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne.

© State of Victoria, Department of Health and Human Services April, 2017.

Available at <http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/for-service-providers/disability/national-disability-insurance-scheme>

 

Contents

Glossary. 4

Introduction. 5

Accessing SDA under the NDIS. 5

Legislative Basis. 5

Purpose. 6

Policy Statement 7

Principles. 7

Scope. 7

Review. 8

Who does this policy apply to?. 8

Applying this policy. 8

Government Owned SDA Dwellings. 8

Existing State-wide SDA Dwellings (including Government and privately owned) 8

Privately owned SDA Dwellings (including CSO owned SDA Dwellings) 9

Rights and Responsibilities. 9

SECTION 1: Minimum Standards for a process to offer residency. 11

Stage 1: Declaring a vacancy. 11

Stage 2: Advertising a vacancy. 12

NDIA Register 12

Open inspections. 12

SDA applications. 13

Stage 3: Identifying a preferred participant 14

Eligibility. 14

Screening. 14

Making a decision. 14

Documenting the application process. 15

Stage 4: Communicating the decision. 16

SECTION 2: Independent Process to Offer Residency. 17

Evidencing an Independent Process to Offer Residency. 17

Submitting evidence to the department 18

Communicating the outcome. 18

Monitoring and reporting. 18

Reporting: Vacancy notification. 18

Monitoring: Complaints - Disability Services Commissioner 19

Monitoring: Critical incident reporting. 19

Non-compliance with these standards. 20

APPENDIX 1: Existing state-wide SDA Dwellings. 21

APPENDIX 2: Vacancy Coordination Terms. 22

APPENDIX 3: Purpose built SDA Dwellings for a specific person or person(s) 26

APPENDIX 4: Factors for consideration in screening. 27

APPENDIX 5: Vacancy notification. 29

Glossary

The following terms are used in relation to this policy:  

Term

Definition

Collaboration Agreement

Refers to the agreement between SIL and SDA providers that meets the requirements of the Disability Act

CSO

Means a community services organisation

Department, department

Refers to the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria

Disability Act

Means the Disability Act 2006 (Vic)

Disability Support Register

Refers to the department’s current database of all the people in Victoria with a confirmed need for funding to purchase supports that meet their disability needs or for supported accommodation

Dwelling

Refers to each SDA property enrolled with the NDIA by a registered SDA provider

National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA)

The NDIA is a Commonwealth statutory agency. The role of the NDIA is to implement the NDIS

NDIS

Means the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Participant

A person with a disability that has met the access requirements to become a participant of the NDIS

Process to offer residency

The process made pursuant to the Disability Act where SDA and SIL providers work together to advertise a vacancy and identify their preferred participant to offer SDA

Purpose-built SDA for a specific person(s)

Refers to Dwellings that are built or refurbished specifically for a participant or group of participants with SDA funding approved in their plans 

Residency management

Refers to the mechanisms by which, SDA and SIL providers manage the occupancy of the property in line with service standards (including quality and safeguards) and residential rights including grounds and process for terminating an occupancy agreement

Residential service

Refers to SDA that is provided by, on behalf of, or by arrangement with a registered NDIS SIL provider that is registered as a disability service provider under the Disability Act

SDA Resident

A participant currently residing in a Dwelling

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA)

Refers to housing provided by a NDIS registered provider of SDA, to participants who require specialist housing solutions to assist with the delivery of their supports. SDA refers to the dwelling itself and not the support that is provided there 

Support coordination

Refers to a funded support under the NDIS. Where support coordination is intended to assist a participant with SDA in their plan, support coordination would include assistance to locate, apply for, access, transition and maintain SDA arrangements.

Supported Independent Living (SIL)

Refers to the provider of support to participants including assistance with or supervision of the tasks of daily life in a shared living arrangement

Vacancy Coordination Teams (VCTs)

Refers to the department’s four divisional teams which coordinate the process to offer residency for all Victorian Government owned Dwellings. VCTs may also coordinate this process for privately owned Dwellings (including in CSO-owned Dwellings) unless they elect to operate an independent process that satisfies the minimum standards set out in this policy.  

 

Introduction

The NDIS is the new way of providing funding for supports for people with a disability, their families and carers in Australia. The NDIS will provide Australians under the age of 65 (at the time of entering the NDIS) who have a permanent and significant disability with the reasonable and necessary supports they need to live an ordinary life.

Participants of the NDIS will develop a personal goal-based plan with the NDIA specifying the reasonable and necessary supports that will be funded under the NDIS. SDA is one type of reasonable and necessary support that may be funded for a participant under the NDIS.

Some Australians living with a disability require access to specialist payment for housing solutions to meet their needs and aspirations. SDA is the price for capital costs, included in a participant’s plan, to fund specialist housing solutions for participants who have an extreme functional impairment and/or very high support needs. SDA refers to the house only, and does not refer to the supports that are provided there. In most cases, SIL supports will be provided to participants living in SDA.

Accessing SDA under the NDIS

The introduction of SDA into the NDIS changes how participants with specialist housing needs will find a home. The NDIA, as the administrator of the NDIS, will not manage or coordinate placements into SDA via a centralised process. Rather, SDA providers will need to advertise vacancies to participants with SDA in their plans who are looking for a home.

For participants this will mean considering advertised SDA vacancies, selecting which to apply for, and considering and negotiating any offers, with assistance from their supports.  SDA providers will be responsible for advertising SDA vacancies and carrying out processes to review applications and to identify their preferred participant to whom residency in their Dwelling will be offered. Ultimately, however, the decision to accept or decline a SDA offer will rest with the participant.

In Victoria, SDA and SIL providers operating as a residential service (as defined by the Disability Act) are required to work together, to advertise vacancies and identify their preferred participant to whom SDA will be offered. Accordingly, SDA and SIL providers must have a Collaboration Agreement in place that outlines their commitment to fully co-operate in order to meet the needs of the residents in the Dwelling. For further information about the Collaboration Agreement refer to the Victorian section of the Guide to Suitability and the Guide to Suitability for SDA.

Legislative Basis

In Victoria, the Disability Act provides a legislative framework which sets out the rights and responsibilities of people with a disability and gives effect to a range of quality and safeguards requirements for disability service providers. The Victorian and Commonwealth Governments have committed to maintaining current quality and safeguarding arrangements and therefore these requirements will continue to apply during transition to the NDIS.

SDA and SIL are treated as an integrated service under the Disability Act, although they may be provided either by a single entity or by two separate entities. A provider delivering the integrated model of accommodation and support envisaged under the Disability Act is called a residential service provider.

Where accommodation and support services are split between two entities, the Disability Act requires that the support provider is registered under the Disability Act and that there be an arrangement between them that makes the support provider responsible for the rights and obligations under the Disability Act. The support provider’s obligations and duties under the Disability Act include the provision of accommodation that is, or will be, actually provided by the accommodation provider.

The Disability Act further provides that ‘admission’ to a residential service (as defined by the Disability Act) must be in accordance with a process determined by the Secretary of the Department. Under the NDIS, a residential service refers to SDA that is provided by, on behalf of, or by arrangement with a SIL provider that is registered as a disability service provider under the Disability Act.

NDIS providers of SDA and SIL are required to comply with the Victorian Quality and Safeguard Working Arrangements for transition, the Victorian section of the NDIA’s Provider Guide to Suitability and the Guide to Suitability for SDA.

The Victorian Quality and Safeguard Working Arrangements For Transition, outline SDA and SIL providers’ obligations to fulfil the requirements under the Disability Act including that:

  • SIL providers must be registered with the department as a disability service provider under the Disability Act; and
  • SDA and SIL providers must enter into a Collaboration Agreement that ensures the requirements of the Disability Act are met.

It should be noted that during transition, only existing providers [1] of residential services under the Disability Act are allowed to offer both SDA and SIL as a single entity.

Purpose 

This policy has been developed for the main purpose of providing guidance on the department’s minimum standards for admission to SDA in accordance with a process determined by the Secretary (as required under the Disability Act). Under the NDIS, this refers to the process of identifying a preferred participant to whom residency in a Dwelling will be offered. For the purpose of this policy, this process is referred to as the ‘process to offer residency’.

This policy provides:

  • SDA and SIL providers with an understanding of their obligations for offering residency in SDA to a participant in accordance with the department’s policy requirements and minimum standards; and
  • participants and their supports with an understanding of their rights to apply for SDA and accept, decline or negotiate any offers.    

This policy does not provide procedural instructions. Under the NDIS, SDA and SIL providers will be required to develop their own procedures for offering residency in SDA that comply with the department’s minimum standards. In some cases, SDA and SIL providers may choose to engage an external provider to coordinate this process. The department’s VCTs may be engaged to coordinate the process of advertising, receiving and considering applications for SDA.  However, the decision to offer SDA to a participant will rest with the SDA and SIL providers (refer to ‘Rights and Responsibilities’ section for more information).    

This policy should be read in conjunction with:

  • the Victorian section of the Guide to Suitability and the Guide to Suitability for SDA; and
  • Disability Act; and
  • Terms of Business for Registered Providers.

Policy Statement

The Disability Act will continue to apply over the NDIS transition. Accordingly, SDA and SIL providers (operating as a residential service) must have procedures in place for offering residency in SDA including advertising, receiving and considering applications for SDA. To ensure compliance with the Disability Act, providers must ensure their procedures comply with the minimum standards outlined in Section 1 of this policy.

SDA should be offered to participants in a fair and transparent manner that demonstrates a commitment to:

  • maximising choice and control for participants;
  • ensuring compliance with Victoria’s legislation;
  • ensuring integrity and good outcomes for participants residing in SDA;
  • balancing the needs of participants looking for a home with the needs of existing residents; and
  • maximising household harmony, resident safety and sustainable living arrangements in SDA.   

Principles

The principles below underpin the process to offer residency in Victoria:

  • Equity: to ensure that all eligible participants are considered for SDA in a fair and transparent manner.
  • Consistency: to ensure that decision making is undertaken in a reliable manner and that enough information is provided to make sound decisions.
  • Sustainability: to ensure SDA offers are part of a long-term and proactive plan that takes into consideration the sustainable operations of the SDA and SIL providers
  • Compatibility: to ensure the physical, emotional, social and support needs of the current residents are taken into consideration when identifying a participant to offer SDA.
  • Safety: to ensure that the support needs of the current and prospective residents are addressed.

Scope

Section 1 of this policy outlines the minimum standards required of SDA and SIL providers (operating as a residential service) to meet the department’s requirements for admission to SDA in accordance with a process determined by the Secretary (as required under the Disability Act).  Section 2 provides an overview of the process for registering an independent process to offer residency for private (including CSO) SDA providers. 

This policy does not cover:

  • procedural instructions for offering residency in SDA; or 
  • the process of identifying suitable accommodation options for participants with urgent housing needs (for example, leaving respite, discharged from hospital); or
  • the process of coordinating the transition into accommodation for a participant who has accepted an offer to reside in SDA; or
  • SIL provider’s obligations and responsibilities under the Disability Act including the provision of residential statements (these requirements are set out in the Victorian section of the Provider Guide to Suitability and the Disability Act); or
  • residency management arrangements including when a current resident exits SDA, either for a fixed period or permanently, through either mutual agreement between the resident and their SIL and SDA providers or an enforceable action under the Disability Act (including notice of temporary relocation or notice to vacate); or
  • service reconfigurations[2]; or
  • the process by which residents vacate a dwelling.

Review

This policy will apply during transition to the NDIS (from 1 July 2016 to the 30 June 2019) and will be reviewed throughout this period.

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to NDIS registered SDA and SIL providers delivering a residential service as defined under the Disability Act. This may include:

  • New and existing Victorian Government owned Dwellings
  • New and existing privately owned Dwellings (including CSO owned Dwellings)

SDA providers need to comply with this policy at the point that a dwelling is enrolled with the NDIA and planning commences to advertise a vacancy. Before payment for SDA can be claimed by a registered provider, the SDA provider must be able to demonstrate compliance with this policy. Private SDA providers can elect to either:

  • have the department’s VCTs coordinate the process to advertise, receive and consider applications for residency in their Dwellings; or
  • operate their own process, independently of the department in accordance with the minimum standards outlined in Section 1 of this policy.

Applying this policy  

Government Owned SDA Dwellings 

In consultation with the relevant SIL providers, the department will coordinate the process to advertise, receive and consider applications for residency in all government owned Dwellings in Victoria through divisional VCTs.

Existing State-wide SDA Dwellings (including Government and privately owned)   

Existing state-wide SDA refer to Dwellings that are available for people with a disability from across the whole state. These dwellings typically provide specialist services for a specific target cohort such as people living with Huntington’s Disease. Refer to Appendix 1 for the list of existing state-wide Dwellings.     

The department’s VCTs will also coordinate the process to offer residency for all existing state-wide Dwellings, irrespective of asset owner. This is to ensure that all eligible people with a disability in Victoria are considered for a vacancy in a state-wide property including NDIS participants and people registered on the Disability Support Register who have not yet transitioned to the NDIS and have an unmet need for accommodation.

Where a person who has not yet transitioned to the NDIS is identified as the preferred person to offer the vacancy, VCTs, the NDIA, SDA and SIL providers should work together to assist the person to become a participant in a timely manner. It is important to note that SDA funding is not available until a NDIA plan decision has been approved regarding SDA eligibility, SDA type and SDA location.          

Privately owned SDA Dwellings (including CSO owned SDA Dwellings)     

VCTs will continue to coordinate the process to offer residency for existing private SDA providers already involved in the department’s process unless they elect to operate an independent process. New private SDA providers may elect to use VCTs to coordinate the process or may decide to run their own process.    

All private SDA providers (existing and new) using VCTs to coordinate the process to offer residency are required to accept and sign the Vacancy Coordination Terms set out in Appendix 2.

Any private SDA provider that elects to operate their own process to offer residency, independently of the department’s VCTs, is required to demonstrate to the department that they have appropriate procedures in place to satisfy compliance with this policy. Section 2 outlines the process by which private SDA providers can submit their policies and procedures to the department for review in order to register an independent process. If a private SDA provider elects to manage their own process to offer residency, the department’s VCTs will not have any involvement in the process.  

In some circumstances, private SDA providers may be exempt from aspects of this policy.  Refer to Appendix 3 for the application of this policy for new purpose-built Dwellings for a specific person or person(s).

Rights and Responsibilities

Specialist Disability Accommodation providers (operating as a residential service), are required to enter into a Collaboraiton Agreement with a SIL provider that is registered under the Disability Act, stipulating that both parties agree to co-operate with each other in complying with the  requirements of the Disability Act and meeting the needs of the residents in their household.

Supported Independent Living providers (operating as a residential service), are required to be registered under the Disability Act and have a Collaboration Agreement with a SDA provider stipulating that both parties agree to fully co-operate with each other in complying with the requirements of the Disability Act and meeting the needs of the residents in their household.

Vacancy Coordination Teams (VCTs), in consultation with the relevant SIL provider(s), will coordinate the process to offer residency in all Victorian Government owned SDA, in accordance with the standards outlined in this policy. VCTs may also coordinate this process for private SDA providers unless they elect to operate their own process for offering residency that satisfies the standards outlined in Section 1 of this policy.

Where VCTs are coordinating the process, VCTs will not accept responsibility for:

  • costs incurred to the SDA and SIL providers during the process to advertise, receive and consider applications for residency in their Dwellings, in respect to any vacancy; or  
  • costs or losses incurred by the  SDA and SIL providers where complexities or delays arise in identifying a preferred participant to whom a vacancy will be offered including if a participant declines an offer; or  
  • resolving disputes between the SDA and SIL providers where they cannot reach an agreement in relation to whom a vacancy will be offered to; or
  • coordinating and supporting a participant’s transition into SDA once the participant has accepted an offer; or
  • resolving issues once a participant has signed agreements with the SDA and SIL providers; or
  • resolving issues arising from the residency composition or support requirements of residents.

Participants, with SDA funding approved in their plans, will be looking for a home in consultation with their informal supports and/or support coordinator (if funded). This will mean considering advertised Dwellings, selecting which ones to apply for and considering, accepting, negotiating or decling any offers.

NDIS Support Coordinators, where funded in a participant’s plan[3], play a critical role in supporting participants to determine which Dwellings to apply for and to consider, accept, negotiate or decline any SDA offers. NDIS Support coordinators also play an important role in supporting participants to provide accurate and current information about their support needs and preferences in an application for a Dwelling.

Informal supports (e.g. families and carers), use their detailed knowledge and understanding of a participant’s support needs, preferences and aspirations to support a participant to determine which Dwellings to apply for, and to consider, accept, negotiate or decline any SDA  offers.  

 

SECTION 1: Minimum Standards for a process to offer residency

This section outlines the minimum standards for a process to offer residency in SDA. Unless otherwise stated, the standards outlined in this section represent the department’s policy requirements.  

Minimum standards for a process to offer residency in SDA:
Stage 1: Declaring a vacancy
Stage 2: Advertising a vacancy
Stage 3: Identifying a preferred participant
Stage 4: Communicating the outcome

Stage 1: Declaring a vacancy

A vacancy may arise if:

  • a new Dwelling(s) is enrolled with the NDIA;
  • a resident advises that they will be vacating;
  • a provider issues a notice to vacate or notice of temporary relocation (pursuant to the Disability Act); or
  • a resident passes away.

Under the Terms of Business for Registered Providers, SDA providers are required to notify the NDIA within five business days if:

  • the participant gives notice to vacate; or
  • the provider gives notice to vacate; or 
  • there is an impending vacancy for any other reason.  

Stakeholder

Rights and responsibilities

SDA provider

Notify the NDIA of an impending vacancy 

SIL provider(s)

Receive or issue a notice to vacate (in agreement with the SDA provider)

Notify the SDA provider of an impending vacancy  

Stage 2: Advertising a vacancy

SDA providers can advertise vacancies in their Dwellings in a variety of ways. This may include public advertisements such as the local paper or online or through existing networks.  However to meet the department’s minimum standards, SDA providers must:

  • advertise the vacancy for at least ten business days; and
  • advertise the vacancy through the NDIA register; and 
  • ensure the Dwelling is available to prospective residents for open inspections at a mutually convenient and agreed time.   

These minimum standards ensure that all eligible participants have an opportunity to view and apply for a vacancy and that information is available and accessible to all participants.

In some circumstances, SDA and SIL providers may commence advertising a vacancy prior to a resident exiting a Dwelling. In this case, advertising cannot start until the resident and the SDA and SIL providers have agreed to an exit date. This is to prevent unintended pressures on the resident to exit the Dwelling earlier than the agreed date.   

NDIA Register

To assist participants and providers to come together the NDIA intends to develop a register of vacancies.

Once the SDA provider has notified the NDIA of a vacancy, the NDIA will provide information about the Dwelling on the register. SDA providers, in consultation with SIL provider(s), should confirm that the NDIA has current and accurate information about the Dwelling so that participants have sufficient information to determine whether to apply. This includes:  

  • The SDA type (design category and building type);
  • Features of the house, such as fabric and configuration;
  • The general location of the SDA including proximity to amenities such as public transport;
  • Basic and de-identified information about any existing residents, such as gender and age mix;
  • A description of the application process such as key dates, open inspection times and application process; 
  • Specialist support features.

Refer to the NDIA for information about the process for the register.  

Open inspections

Open inspections are an integral feature of advertising SDA and provide a valuable opportunity for prospective residents  to view the Dwelling and seek further information about the accommodation fabric and/or location. As the support provider, the SIL provider should coordinate open inspections. To meet the department’s minimum standards, SIL providers must:

  • provide reasonable notice to the existing residents of the dates for the inspections; and
  • minimise disruptions to the existing residents; and 
  • ensure the inspection does not cause any security or safety problems to the existing residents; and
  • respect existing residents’ privacy, including the outgoing resident if they are still residing in the Dwelling, by restricting access to their private rooms during inspections; and
  • ensure inspections are only available to prospect residents and/or their supports.

In some cases, SIL providers may consider organising private inspections for a participant and their supports. Decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis to ensure the needs and privacy of the existing residents are properly considered in accordance with this policy.

SDA applications

After considering an advertisement and attending an inspection (if the participant wishes to), participants, in consultation with their supports, can then decide whether or not they wish to apply to live in the Dwelling. If the participant decides to apply, they should apply via the SDA provider’s application process.

Through the application process, SDA and SIL providers should ensure they capture sufficient information about the participant to assess whether they would be a good fit for the household and likely to have a long-term and sustainable residency (see Stage 3 for more information)  

Stakeholder

Rights and responsibilities

SDA provider

Ensure the vacancy is advertised

Receive applications

SIL provider(s)

Coordinate open inspections 

NDIA

Add a vacancy to the register    

Participants

Consider advertisements

Attend open inspections (optional)

Decide whether or not to apply to live in a Dwelling.    

Support coordinators

Assist participants to decide whether to apply to live in a Dwelling

Assist participants to complete the application process

Informal supports

Assist participants to decide whether to apply to live in a Dwelling

Assist participants to complete the application process

 

Stage 3: Identifying a preferred participant   

During the advertising period, SDA providers will receive applications from participants interested in living in their Dwelling. SDA providers must have clear and appropriate procedures for working with the SIL provider(s) operating in their Dwelling, to receive and review applications and to identify a preferred participant to offer SDA.

Eligibility

The NDIA is responsible for assessing SDA eligibility. It is incumbent on the SDA provider to ensure that any participant applying for a vacancy is approved for SDA by the NDIA prior to making an offer to that participant.

Where SDA is being funded for a participant, the appropriate SDA type (design category and building type) and location will be included in their plan. Where SDA is not immediately available for a participant, the SDA type and location will still be included in their plan so that if the participant decides to accept a SDA offer for that type and in that location, it can be funded without a plan review. However, a plan review may be required to determine SIL funding.

Screening

SDA and SIL providers should review all applications received to determine who will be the best fit for the household. It is in the best interests of the SDA and SIL providers to support sustainable and long term residencies in their Dwellings. The process of moving a resident out of a Dwelling and a new resident in can be costly to providers. In addition, an offer to a participant who does not fit the household and support model, will fail to meet the needs of the participant and may result in issues such as property damage, resident conflict and high vacancy rates. 

There are a range of individual factors that may impact on the likelihood of a sustainable and long term tenancy. These include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Cultural background
  • Community of origin
  • Engagement with local providers
  • Support needs including:
      • personal support (e.g. physical assistance or prompting and supervision)
      • self-management (e.g. self-control, interactions with others, personality)
      • activities of daily living (e.g. using money, telling time, cleaning cooking)
      • mobility (e.g. utilising transport and public facilities) 
  • Behaviours of concern and protective skills including risk assessments (where appropriate)
  • Communication skills: expressive and receptive
  • Personal interests (e.g. recreation pursuits, including solitary and group activities)

During the screening process, the SIL provider is responsible for representing the preferences and goals of the current residents. This is vital in determining whether a participant is likely to live harmoniously in the household with the other residents.

For more information about the factors that may impact on a sustainable residency refer to Appendix 4.

Making a decision

The NDIA is responsible for assessing eligibility for SDA. However, the NDIA does not intend to ‘allocate’ vacancies in SDA  to eligible participants.  

SDA and SIL providers are required to work together to identify a preferred participant to offer SDA. As outlined in the Collaboration Agreement, SDA and SIL providers agree to fully co-operate with each other in meeting the needs of the residents of the household. This may include communicating with each other and sharing information about the existing residents and the services.

The obligation to communicate and share information only applies so far as is necessary and where lawful to do so. Any exchange of information is subject to the requirements of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic), Health Records Act 2001 (Vic) and Disability Act. It is the responsibility of the parties involved to understand their legislative obligations and ensure compliance with them. 

Documenting the application process

To meet the department’s minimum standards, decision making must be retained on file in an appropriate electronic document management system. Documentation must include a clear explanation of the process taken to consider the factors outlined above for all participants who apply to live in the Dwelling.

It is important to note that should there be subsequent issues in the household that result in a complaint to the Disability Services Commissioner, or an Incident Report, documentation may be required to confirm that the SDA and SIL provider acted with due care, skill and diligence when offering a participant SDA.  

Stakeholder

Rights and responsibilities

SDA provider

Share applications with SIL provider(s)

Review all the applications

Document the application process   

SIL provider(s)

Review all the applications

Represent the needs of the current residents

Stage 4: Communicating the outcome   

A formal offer of SDA should be made to the preferred participant at which time the participant, in consultation with their support coordinator and/or their informal supports, may elect to accept, decline or negotiate the offer.

If the participant declines the offer, the SDA and SIL provider may choose to offer SDA to their next preferred participant or readvertise the Dwelling.

To meet the department’s minimum standards, SDA providers must notify any unsuccessful participants and their supports, of the outcome of their application. Communication should be provided using a method that best suits the participant’s needs.

Stakeholder

Rights and responsibilities

SDA provider

Offer SDA to the preferred participant

Notify unsuccessful participants of the outcome

Participants

Accept, decline or negotiate any offer

Support coordinators

Assist a participant to consider and if required negotiate any offers

Informal supports

Assist a participant to consider and if required negotiate any offers

SECTION 2: Independent Process to Offer Residency 

Private SDA providers who elect to manage their own process to offer residency, independently of the department, must be able to demonstrate compliance with the minimum standards outlined in Section 1 of this policy.

Evidencing an Independent Process to Offer Residency 

Private SDA providers (in consultation with the SIL provider(s) operating in their Dwellings) who elect to run an independent process to offer residency are required to provide written materials to the department evidencing their capacity to meet the minimum standards set out in Section 1 of this policy.  Private SDA providers are required to list each Dwelling to which the independent process to offer residency is to apply.

The written materials may comprise:

  • policies, procedures or work instructions describing the SDA and SIL provider’s processes and practices to declare, advertise, consider applications, offer residency and communicate outcomes; and
  • tools and templates used by staff to implement policies and procedures.

The following table provides examples of documents that may be provided to the department to evidence an independent process to offer residency. It should be noted that the table below does not constitute an exhaustive list of the types of documents which can be provided to evidence compliance with the minimum standards set out in Section 1 of this policy.

Stage

Evidence: Documented policy/procedure

Evidence: Example Template

Stage 1: Declaring a vacancy

Procedure to notify the NDIA of an impending vacancy

Notification template

Stage 2: Advertising a vacancy

Procedure to advertise a vacancy to all prospective participants including though the NDIA’s vacancy register

SIL procedure for open inspections

Advertising template

House profile template

Application form

Stage 3: Identifying a preferred participant

Procedure to engage representatives from SDA and SIL providers to identify a preferred participant

Practice instructions for screening participants 

Procedure for recording decisions

Screening tool

Minute template for meetings between SDA and SIL providers

Stage 4: Communicating the outcomes

Procedure to formally advise all participants of the outcome

Offer letter

Letter to advise unsuccessful participants

The department may, at its discretion, request additional evidence from the SDA and SIL providers for the purpose of assessing the process to offer residency.

Submitting evidence to the department

SDA providers are required to register with the NDIA. Following registration, the SDA provider can then enrol Dwelling(s) with the NDIA.

The NDIA will notify the department when a SDA provider enrols a Dwelling. Private SDA providers are required to notify divisional NDIS transition teams (see details below) if they intend to operate an independent process to offer residency.

NDIS transition teams will refer SDA providers to monitoring staff in the divisions to discuss compliance requirements and review their written evidence.

Division

Email

West Division

NDIS.Readiness.Activities.West.Division@dhhs.vic.gov.au

North Division

NDIS.Readiness.Activities.North.Division@dhhs.vic.gov.au

East Division

East.NDISTransitionTeam@dhhs.vic.gov.au

South Division

South.NDIS@dhhs.vic.gov.au

New Dwellings enrolled by existing SDA providers  

If an existing SDA provider enrols a new Dwelling, and they are already operating an independent process, they will not be required to submit any additional evidence to the department to demonstrate compliance.    

Communicating the outcome

The department will consider the written evidence provided by the private SDA provider to determine whether this reasonably demonstrates that the minimum standards of this policy will be satisfied. A private SDA provider may elect to use the department’s VCTs to coordinate the process to offer residency while the department reviews their written evidence.

If a SDA provider does not agree with the outcome of the review, the SDA provider may request further explanation from the department on which standards have not been satisfied. The department will allow SDA and SIL providers to take action to address the department’s feedback. At such time, SDA providers may request that the department reconsider whether the minimum requirements of this policy are satisfied.

Monitoring and reporting

SDA providers, in consultation with the SIL provider(s) operating in their Dwelling(s), are responsible for establishing mechanisms within their organisational structures to monitor compliance with this policy. The department may also monitor ongoing compliance with this policy using the mechanisms outlined below:

Reporting: Vacancy notification

It is a requirement of the Disability Act that disability service providers notify the Secretary within 24 hours of the details of any:

  • notice to vacate from a provider;
  • notice of temporary relocation from a provider; and
  • notice of intention to vacate by a resident.  

SIL providers operating in a private SDA with an independent process to offer residency, must also comply with the notice requirements set out in the Disability Act. [4] Notification of a vacancy should be submitted using the vacancy notification form at Appendix 5.

As outlined under the NDIS Terms of Business for Registered Providers, SDA providers are also required to notify the NDIA within five business days of an impending vacancy. This is additional to the requirements set out under the Disability Act.

Monitoring: Complaints - Disability Services Commissioner

The Disability Services Commissioner (Commissioner) is an independent statutory authority established under the Disability Act. The Commissioner provides a free, confidential and supportive complaint resolution process. Complaints to the Commissioner may be in relation to the services a person receives, or how a service provider has handled a complaint.  Any person can make a complaint to the Commissioner.  Where a complaint has been investigated by the Commissioner and the Commissioner considers that the complaint is justified, the Commissioner must specify in their written notice regarding the complaint any action which the Commission considers ought to be taken to remedy the complaint.

Registered disability service providers and the department must have a documented complaints process and must, on request, provide the Commissioner with information regarding their complaints process.

SDA and SIL providers should provide people with information about their complaints process including information regarding how to raise a complaint. People assisting with implementation of a funding plan may need to assist the person to obtain information or advice from Consumer Affairs if their complaints are not being adequately addressed.

For more information:

Monitoring: Critical incident reporting

All SIL providers are required to report critical incidents involving or impacting upon participants that occur at the service or during service delivery. The key reason for reporting incidents is to learn from them and if possible, prevent their recurrence.

Critical incidents are to be reported to the department in accordance with the department’s Incident Reporting Instruction, using the department’s Client Incident report form.

Management and staff should familiarise themselves with the requirements for incident reporting which are outlined in the department’s Incident Reporting Instruction. The instruction and other supporting material can be found on the department’s Funded Agency Channel <www.dhs.vic.gov.au/funded-agency-channel>.

Go to: About service agreements > Incident reporting > Human Services.

Non-compliance with these standards

If the department considers that SDA or SIL providers may not be complying with this policy, the relevant SDA or SIL provider will be expected to resolve non-compliance within a reasonable period of time. The department will work with providers to determine the period of time based on the risk posed to the current and prospective residents.

This is not intended to be punitive. Rather, it is intended to be a principle based approach to work together with the SDA and SIL providers to:

  • identify the basis for concern;
  • review the current processes; and
  • identify corrective actions to reduce the likelihood of repeated issues.  

This may include identifying changes that could be made to the SDA and SIL provider’s systems and procedures, through either redesign or development of new systems or procedures, to improve outcomes and reduce the risk of a particular incident occurring in the future.

Where the department has concerns for the capacity of the SDA and SIL providers to address ongoing or repeated serious incidents involving, for example, serious physical or psychological injury to residents, the department may require that SDA and SIL providers return to having their process to offer residency coordinated by the department’s VCTs.

APPENDIX 1: Existing state-wide SDA Dwellings

Service and provider

Lead VCTs

Target group

Neurological Support Services
(previously Arthur Preston Residential Services)

Provider: Wesley Mission Victoria

East

Huntington’s disease, high medical needs

Multiple Sclerosis Watsonia Units

Provider: MS Australia

North

Multiple sclerosis, deteriorating neurological conditions

Multiple Sclerosis Williamstown

Provider: MS Australia

North

Multiple sclerosis, deteriorating neurological conditions

Vicdeaf

West

Able Australia
(previously DeafBlind Association)

North

Deaf and blind

Independence Australia (previously ParaQuad)

East

Spinal injury, physical disability

Ventilator Accommodation Support Service

Provider: Yooralla

North

Chronic dependence on a ventilator as assessed by the Victorian Respiratory Support Service

Villa Maria Catholic Homes

North

My Future My Choice (MFMC). Young people with high level, complex care needs, including acquired brain injury.

 

APPENDIX 2: Vacancy Coordination Terms

These Vacancy Coordination Terms apply where coordination of vacancies is undertaken by the Department on behalf of private organisations or Community Services Organisations (together, Non-Government SDA Providers). Where a non-Government SDA Provider makes this election, the Non-Government SDA Provider must agree to these Vacancy Coordination Terms by signing and returning the Vacancy Coordination Terms to the Department.

Dated                                                   day of                                                              2017

Parties:

The State of Victoria acting through the Department of Health and Human Services of 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne Victoria 3000 (Department)

and

[insert name] [insert ABN] of [insert address] (SDA Provider)

Background:

  1. The SDA Provider has elected to have Vacancy Coordination within the SDA Dwelling undertaken on its behalf by the Department.
  2. The Department agrees to undertake the Vacancy Coordination within the SDA Dwelling on the terms of this deed.
  1. Definitions

In this deed:

Claim includes all demands, rights, actions, suits or proceedings of any kind;

Policy means the Offering residency in Specialist Disability Accommodation – Policy and Standards (Victoria) – February 2017 as updated by the Department from time to time;

HR Act means the Health Records Act 2001 (Vic).

HPP means a Health Privacy Principle set out in Schedule 1 to the HR Act.

IPP means an Information Privacy Principle set out in Schedule 1 to the PDP Act.

Liability includes all damages, costs, expenses or loss;

NDIA means the National Disability Insurance Authority, being a Commonwealth statutory body;

NDIS means the National Disability Insurance Scheme;

PDP Act means the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic).

SDA means specialist disability accommodation for the purposes of the NDIS;

SDA Dwelling means the dwelling or dwellings identified in the SDA Dwelling Schedule;

SIL Provider means any provider of supported independent living services in the SDA Dwelling; and

Vacancy Coordination means coordination of the process to offer residency in the relevant SDA Dwelling.

  1. Provision of Vacancy Coordination
  1. The SDA Provider agrees:
  1. that the Department will undertake the Vacancy Coordination at the SDA Dwelling in accordance with the process set out in Section 1 of this Policy;
  2. to provide to the Department, in a timely manner, any information and documents which the Department may reasonably request to enable the Department to undertake the Vacancy Coordination;
  3. comply with IPP 1.3 of the PDP Act and HPP 1.4 of the HR Act by notifying Participants and any other person from whom the SDA Provider collects Personal Information or Health Information relevant to the Vacancy Coordination is aware that the Department is an organisation to which the SDA Provider usually discloses Personal Information or Health Information ;
  4. that, notwithstanding that the Department undertakes the Vacancy Coordination in accordance with this deed, the SDA Provider remains responsible for discharging all other legal obligations in relation to SDA and the SDA Dwelling
  1. The SDA Provider agrees that, in undertaking Vacancy Coordination at the relevant SDA Dwelling, the Department is not responsible for:
  1. resolving disputes between the SDA Provider and any SIL Provider where they are unable to reach agreement in relation to the Participant to whom residency should be offered;
  2. coordinating the Participant’s transition to the SDA Dwelling once that Participant has accepted an offer for residency in the relevant SDA Dwelling;
  3. resolving issues between a Participant and the SDA Provider or any SIL Provider once the Participant has signed agreements with the SDA Provider and the relevant SIL Provider;
  4. resolving issues which arise as a result of residency composition and support requirements of the different residents within the relevant SDA Dwelling.

  1. Release and indemnity
  1. The SDA Provider agrees that the Department is not liable for:
  1. costs incurred by the SDA Provider or the SIL Provider during the process of undertaking Vacancy Coordination (including, without limitation, the costs of advertising the vacancy); or
  2. costs or losses incurred by the SDA Provider or the SIL Provider as a result of complexities or delays arising in identifying a preferred Participant to whom residency will be offered or as a result of a Participant declining an offer.
  1. The SDA Provider releases absolutely and discharges the Department and the State of Victoria and their officers, employees and agents from, and covenants not to commence or seek to enforce or reinstate, any claim, suit, cause of action, demand or right in any court, commission, tribunal or body (whether at common law, in equity or, to the extent permitted, under any statute whether State of Federal) against the Department and the Department’s officers, employees and agents arising out of or in relation to the Vacancy Coordination contemplated by this deed.
  2. The SDA Provider indemnifies the Department against all Liability the Department may incur in respect of any Claim, including Claims in respect of:
  1. personal injury or the death of any person;
  2. loss of or damage to any property;
  3. breach of third party intellectual property rights;
  4. contravention by the SDA Provider of any Privacy Obligations,

arising in any manner under or in connection with this deed in the course of undertaking the Vacancy Coordination.

  1. General
  1. The SDA Provider acknowledges that this deed is executed for the benefit of, and each of the covenants is granted in favour of, the Department.
  2. If any part of this deed is found to be void, unenforceable, or otherwise legally ineffective (Ineffective) in any jurisdiction, that part will be read down to the extent necessary to ensure that it is no longer Ineffective.  If an Ineffective part cannot be so read down, it may be severed and the remainder of the deed will be construed in a manner so as to ensure the remaining parts continue in force to the greatest extent possible
  3. This deed may not be varied except with the written consent of the Department.
  4. No right under this deed is waived, or deemed to be waived, except by notice in writing signed by a party, and a waiver given by a party does not prejudice its rights in respect of any subsequent breach of this deed.

Executed as a deed poll.

SIGNED by [insert name] Pty Ltd/Limited (ACN ..............................) in accordance with the Corporations Act 2001:

[INSTRUCTION - for use when a company executes the Agreement without fixing its common seal]

....................................................................

Signature of Director

(By executing this Agreement the signatory warrants that the signatory is a director of the Contractor)

....................................................................

Name of Director (block letters)

....................................................................

Signature of Director/Company Secretary

(By executing this Agreement the signatory warrants that the signatory is a director/company secretary of the Contractor)

....................................................................

Name of Director/Company Secretary (block letters)

SDA DWELLING SCHEDULE

[INSERT DETAILS OF EACH SDA DWELLING TO WHICH THIS DEED RELATES, E.G. ADDRESS]

APPENDIX 3: Purpose built SDA Dwellings for a specific person or person(s)

The SDA Price is intended to encourage the development of a vibrant SDA market by encouraging new builds from a broad range of investors. It is expected this will include the development of new purpose built Dwellings for a specific person or person(s). For example, a group of participants with SDA approved in their plans may choose to come together to pool their funding to develop or refurbish a property to live in.

Process to offer residency at enrolment  

Purpose built SDA Dwellings for specific person or person(s) will be exempt from some of the minimum standards outlined in Section 1 of this policy at the stage of enrolling the Dwelling. This is because the property has been specifically developed for a person or persons and therefore is not subject to the market process.

The table below provides an overview of each of the stages and their application to these Dwellings for the initial vacancies in the Dwelling (at the point of enrolment). SDA and SIL providers are expected to manage the required minimum standards independently of the department’s VCTs.

Stage

Description

Scope

Stage 1

Declaring a vacancy

Exempt

Stage 2

Advertising a vacancy

Exempt

NDIA Register

Exempt

Open inspections

Exempt

Stage 3

Eligibility

Required   

Screening

Required

Collaborative practice

Required

Documenting decision-making process

Exempt

Stage 4

Communicating the outcomes

Exempt  

Ongoing vacancies that arise in the property

If a resident leaves the property and the SDA and SIL providers intend to advertise the vacancy, they are required to comply with all the minimum standards outlined in Section 1.

APPENDIX 4: Factors for consideration in screening  

It is important for SDA and SIL providers to have a thorough resident screening process that considers the factors that may impact on the likelihood of a sustainable and long-term residency. Understanding these factors allows SDA and SIL providers to assess the applications received and identify their preferred participant to whom SDA will be offered.

One of the key considerations impacting on sustainable and long-term residencies is the extent to which a participant is likely to live harmoniously in the household with the other residents. Some of the factors that may impact household compatibility are outlined below.

Age

Age-related compatibility refers to personal, developmental and support needs as well as chronological age. Age-related life changes occur for all people, including people with a disability.

People of the same age and stage in life are more likely to share the same interests. Consideration may be given to compatibility on the basis of shared interests. Interests are usually affiliated with age and ability however for some participants; chronological age is not representative of developmental ability. As such, there may be a situation where two participants share a common interest and are developmentally similar but may be of significant difference in age.

Gender

The gender mix of the household may be considered when assessing compatibility of a participant. This consideration also applies to the gender mix or profile of the SIL staff.

Factors that may be considered include: staff capacity to provide support to all residents and to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone in the household; acknowledgement and understanding of any cultural differences or issues that may impact on gender issues; factors in a resident’s personal history or background that may impact on feelings of safety and well-being.

Cultural background

A participant’s cultural background and beliefs may mean that adaptations may be required to routines and procedures. Similarities and differences between the current residents and participants should be noted enabling these factors to be considered as part of considerations about compatibility and transition planning.

Support needs

Offering SDA to a participant on the basis of having the same disability or similar support needs or behaviours of concern is not necessarily advantageous to the residents. In fact, evidence suggests that deliberately having people with a disability with behaviours of concern together in the same residence overwhelms staff ability to provide individualised care. However, if the Dwelling offers specialist types of support, then participants with those support needs may be considered as a priority for offering SDA.

Health related needs may also be considered when screening participants to ensure that the SIL provider, in consultation with the relevant health practitioners, can meet the needs of the participants.

Communication skills

The opportunity for people to communicate with each other and not just staff is important to supporting participant’s independence and opportunities for development. Ensuring that all strategies are in place to support people to maximise their own communication skills, supports everyone in the house to communicate with each other using preferred methods of communication and ensures staff understand and can support resident’s preferred methods of communication.

Behaviours of concern

Behaviour of concern refers to any behaviour that causes harm to the person or another person. SIL providers may consider developing and implementing support strategies that provide opportunities for residents to develop skills for meaningful interaction and participation, to prevent or significantly reduce any risks to the current residents and the participant being considered. This may include, for example, a behaviour support plan that documents behavioural history, any current legal orders, the risks to self or others, relevant risk indicators, protective factors and strategies for low, moderate and severe escalation.

On occasion, it may be that the other residents may be more independent but may have support needs resulting from behaviours of concern. In this instance the SIL provider should determine where there are likely issues of incompatibility and potential risk of harm and ensure appropriate measures can be implemented to ensure the safety of all the residents in the household.

APPENDIX 5: Vacancy notification

This form is used by SIL providers to notify the department of a:

  • notice to vacate from a provider
  • notice of temporary relocation from a provider
  • notice of intention to vacate by a resident

Only SIL providers operating in SDA with an independent process to offer residency are required to complete this form. [5] 

 Information about the person completing this form

Date form completed

SIL provider

Name

Position

Contact phone number

Vacancy details

Address of SDA

SDA provider

SDA contact phone number

Details of person vacating

Name of person exiting SDA

Person’s date of birth

Date of exit

Reason for exit

INTERNAL OFFICE USE ONLY

Date received

NDIS participant ID

Person receiving form

 

[1] An existing provider is a provider that had a service agreement with the department for the delivery of residential services (as defined under the Disability Act) as at 30 June 2016.

[2] Service reconfigurations refer to the process of moving one or more residents into other accommodation to address issues such as resident compatibility or changing needs. Under the NDIS, providers will no longer be able to ‘move’ residents to another property. The choice to enter or exit a property will rest with the participant. Providers, however, may use actions pursuant to the Disability Act to remove a resident from a household, if for example they are creating disruption for other residents.

[3] Note that not all participants will have support coordination funded in their plans.

[4] SDA and SIL providers who elect to have VCTs coordinate the process will satisfy this requirement through the VCT process.

[5] SDA and SIL providers who elect to have VCTs coordinate the process will satisfy this requirement through the VCT process.

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