The Importance of Service Agreements
Whenever we speak to someone who is starting to bring their NDIS plan to life, one of the first pieces of advice we give is to consider setting up service agreements with all their service providers.
Service agreements are not compulsory, but they can be a particularly useful tool for helping you get the services you require to live your life and meet the goals identified in your NDIS plan. And while they might sound like they’d be daunting to set up, they’re usually very simple - particularly when you consider the certainty they can provide.
Why should you consider setting up service agreements?
As the name suggests, a service agreement is an agreement between you and your service provider. Your service provider could be any organisation that provides services to you under the NDIS – any organisation from a major national service provider or a one-person operation.
The service agreement is designed to protect both of you from misunderstandings or disagreements by clearly stating how much supports will be provided, how they will be provided and what costs and fees you’ll need to pay. Because the NDIS gives you more choice and control over the supports you receive, it also means you need to ensure they’re delivered in a way that aligns with your plan - this is where the service agreement comes in.
There is no single service agreement template and lots of registered providers will have their own. Learn more about what may be included in a service agreement on the NDIS website.
What’s in a service agreement?
While there’s no rule on what needs to be in a service agreement, it should contain enough details to prevent any misunderstandings over the support provided. As a general guide, your service agreement should include:
- Your name and contact details
- Your provider’s name and contact details
- The dates the service starts and ends
Note: these will need to be within the date range of your current NDIS plan
- The type of services will be provided and/or the NDIS Support Item Numbers
Note: The specific numbers can be found in the NDIS Price Guide
- How many services they will be providing until the end date of the agreement, including the number of hours per day, week or month
- Costs per service and total cost of all services
Note: For many supports, the NDIS uses an hourly rate system. Any additional, material costs included on invoices won’t be covered unless they’re incorporated into the hourly rate, so remember to factor this in when creating your service agreement.
- Terms and Conditions, including cancellation policies
Once you and your provider have a service agreement drafted, take your time to review it carefully. Once you’re happy with it, both you and your service provider should sign the document.
What should I do with my service agreement?
Once you have a signed service agreement, keep a copy for your records. This can be either physical or digital – whatever’s easiest for you - but the main thing is it’s at hand should you need to refer back to it down the track.
If you have Plan Management with Plan Partners, we also strongly suggest you send a copy to us. As your Plan Manager, we manage your NDIS funds and take care of all the day to day administration of your NDIS budgets. Knowing what you and your service provider have agreed upon in the service agreement can assist us with tracking your spending and ensuring you’re maximising your NDIS funds. It also helps our team keep up to date with the services you’re receiving, including the current contact details of your provider and the number of services that will be provided.
How can I get some assistance with setting up service agreements?
If you’d like to get some assistance with setting up service agreements, most service providers who operate under the NDIS have standard service agreements and are happy to help you. For some more advice, you can also contact your Local Area Coordinator or your Support Coordinator.
If you have a Support Coordinator, they can even help you with organising and reviewing your service agreements and liaising with your service providers directly. Click here for more information about Support Coordination.