When you have found a provider to deliver your National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) supports, you will need to enter into a written agreement with your provider.
Service agreements set out how and when your supports will be delivered
Service agreements are mandatory for Specialist Disability Accommodation supports
You should understand everything outlined in your service agreement before you sign it
When you have found a provider to deliver your NDIS supports, you will need to enter into a written agreement with your provider. This is called a service agreement.
In this guide you’ll learn what an NDIS service agreement is, what it should contain, and why they are important.
What is a service agreement?
When you agree to the use of your NDIS budget to pay for supports, you are entering into a contract with your provider.
This is considered a service agreement, which is different from your NDIS plan, as your plan only lists your NDIS supports and the long and short term goals you have.
A service agreement between you and your provider clearly outlines what services you have both agreed you will receive.
Your provider may work with you to develop a care or service plan that is based on your needs and the goals set out in your NDIS plan.
When talking to your provider about your service agreement, you should bring a copy of your NDIS plan, or you can attach the copy of your NDIS plan to your service agreement.
This will help your provider to deliver the right supports in the right way for your personal circumstances and make sure the services work towards meeting your individual goals.
Once you are happy with the service agreement, you can then sign the document.
Who can make a service agreement?
A service agreement is most often established between you, a NDIS participant, and the service provider. It should be in a format that you clearly understand.
Sometimes, you might ask another trusted person to enter into an agreement on your behalf. This might be a family member, carer, friend, or other person you trust.
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.
What should a NDIS service agreement contain?
Service agreements should be simple, setting out how and when your supports will be delivered and how much they will cost.
When you negotiate a service agreement, you should understand things like:
What supports are being provided
The cost of those supports
How, when, and where you would like your supports to be provided
How long the supports will be provided for
When and how your service agreement will be reviewed
How any problems or issues that may arise will be dealt with
Your responsibilities under the service agreement – such as letting your provider know if you can’t make an appointment
Your provider’s responsibilities under the service agreement – such as working with you to deliver your supports in the right way
How you or your provider may change or end the service agreement
Do not sign your service agreement until you understand it and are happy with everything outlined in the document. Ask a trusted person or legal expert to review your service agreement if you want extra assurance that the presented document is in your best interest.
Remember, you do not have to sign the service agreement if you do not want to. Services will still commence whether or not you sign it.
What should you do with your service agreement?
Once you have signed, or not signed, your service agreement, keep a copy for your records. This could be a physical copy, an electronic copy, or both - whatever is easiest for you. Make sure your service agreement is easily accessible so you can refer to it when you need to.
If you have a Plan Manager or Support Coordinator, send a copy to them. Knowing what you and your service provider have agreed upon can help them track your spending, ensure you’re maximising your NDIS funds, and keep them up to date with the services you’re receiving.
Are NDIS service agreements mandatory?
Generally, no. A written service agreement is only needed if you require Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) supports under the NDIS. However, you are not required to sign this agreement.
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) does not require providers to have a written service agreement for other supports.
While it’s not mandatory, the NDIA recommends signed service agreements as ‘best practice’, as a written contract protects both you and your provider from any liability if something goes wrong.
Other reasons why a NDIS service agreement is important:
It formalises your relationships with your provider
It helps make sure you and your provider have the same expectations of what supports will be delivered
All terms written in a signed service agreement are legally binding
Where a service agreement is created, it is possible for providers to start delivering their services without your signature - as long as they can prove that you, the participant, understand and agree to the document, for example through verbal or digital communication.
Providers should give you a copy of your negotiated service agreement, regardless of whether it’s signed.
Is there a NDIS service agreement template?
There is no single service agreement template and many registered providers will have their own. In most cases, NDIS providers are encouraged to develop a service agreement in partnership with you.
If you would like to know what a NDIS service agreement looks like, ask your provider if you can view one of their templates.
How did you negotiate your service agreement with your provider? Share your experiences in the comments below.