As an NDIS registered service provider offering independent Support Coordination I decided early on in CoAbility’s journey that we would work with clients of all abilities, including those with a diagnosed psychosocial disability. My attitude was ‘how hard can it be, they have their NDIS plan just like our other clients’.
Knowing that depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide confirmed my decision that we should be providing support to this ‘demographic’.
And the referrals came rolling in…
It was evident from our first day of trading that the sector was screaming out for people who worked in this space. I was quickly having conversations with parents, clients, LACs, planners and other support coordinators about CoAbility’s ability to take on clients with psychosocial disability. Often the question was ‘do you have capacity?’, but I realised just as quickly that the question I needed to ask myself was ‘do we have the skill?’.
It didn’t take long for me to learn that if you are not experienced in working with people living with depression, anxiety or other mental illness you can quickly get yourself in trouble.
CoAbility was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole
Having just submitted our Annual Complaints Report to the Disability Services Commissioner, it was eye-opening to see that 99% of our complaints were submitted by clients with psychosocial disability. Putting the report together it became very evident to me that this was not a matter of these people complaining more than our other demographic, but the fact that CoAbility was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, so to speak.
It took a couple of conversations I had with one particular parent about the support of her adult son that really got me thinking about the way I sold our services to those with psychosocial disabilities.
This mum spoke so eloquently about the issues her son faced on a daily basis and also about how helpless she felt when he made decisions that were not in his best interest. She also discussed in length the effect that the NDIS taking over the funding for psychosocial support was having on those that relied on that support and how she was unsure about whether it was going to work for her son in the long run.
It’s easy to fall through the cracks
A couple of days later she sent me a story that she had written about what her family was going through. She told me that it was only for my team to read and could not be shared outside of the organisation as she was trying to get it published. It was an incredibly poignant and honest account of what it is like being forced to step out of a system that is working and into a new system that is difficult to navigate and easy to fall through the cracks.
A few weeks later it was with a mixture of pride and sadness that I got to read that story again as it was published in a Saturday newspaper; it has since been shared widely over social media.
At the time of those conversations, I had no doubt that our support coordinators were good. As a matter of fact, we have some of the best in the business. But I knew that for CoAbility to continue to provide support in the psychosocial space we needed to up our game. We could not settle for providing substandard support to people because we didn’t have the right expertise in the team.
So it is with great pride and pleasure that I announce we will start to offer Specialist Support Coordination and intensive psychosocial specific coordination from next week. We have added a social worker, a psychologist and a number of Support Coordinators who have worked extensively in the Mental Health space to our team and all are very eager to start working with CoAbility clients.
I look forward to introducing them to you through our website and Facebook page over the next few weeks.
If you would like to have a chat about how we can assist you with your NDIS support coordination, please feel free to reach out on any of our social media channels or through our website.