The Service Agreement. One of the most important documents you will ever sign.

Resources: NDIS Guide To Service Agreements

Transcript

The Service Agreement. One of the most important documents you will ever sign.

I’m Richard Brown.

Erin

I’m Erin O’Neill

Richard

And welcome to the Prospect Farm podcast.

Erin

Right, so here we are talking to Richard today about Service Agreements, and as Richard said, the most important document you’ll sign. Richard, tell me all about it.

Richard

The Service Agreement is the contract that you sign between the Service Provider and yourself to make sure that you’re given the services that you agree upon and that you expect. And delivered in

a very high quality.

Erin

So can you take me through the basic points please?

Richard

With all contracts there there are parties. There would be the Service Provider, and for Supported Independent Living it would be Prospect Farm Accommodation for instance and the person or group we’re providing the service to. It’s an important thing to realise that there are two or more parties in the Service Agreement.

What you put in the Service Agreement really matters. The schedule of supports is really important because it defines the sort of support you’re going to get, how much of it you’re going to get, how often, and how much it’s going to cost.

Erin

So this is obviously a very important document. To to what extent do you need legal advice, or is it all plain English?

Richard

The NDIS is set up templates and examples of Service Agreements on their website. That should make it fairly straight forward. It’s all in plain English and your Service Agreement should be in plain English rather than complicated legal speak. However, if it’s a big Service Agreement that needs to be looked at. Maybe some advice from a legal representative is called for, but generally it should be a fairly straight forward agreement between the provider and the person receiving the support.

Erin

Any more details?

Richard

One of the things that given in the Service Agreement is the responsibilities of both the Provider and the person who is receiving the support, the Participant as the NDIS says.

The responsibilities of the Provider are to provide the support they say they’re going to do, within time, on budget and to treat the Participant with respect and make sure that the Service Agreement is being delivered as accurately and as faithfully as possible and on the other hand, the Participants need to make sure that they are happy with the service they’re receiving. They need to show respect and courtesy. Both sides need to show courtesy when making enquires and when sometimes having disagreements that crop up from time to time. So there needs to be good faith between the two parties when Service Agreements aren’t exactly being produced as expected or as they should be. And that’s an important thing to think about when you have an agreement between a Provider and a Participant.

Erin

So, within the Service Agreement then I would imagine there would be some room for negotiation. For example, someones community access is normally provided on a Tuesday or twice a week and that has to change because someone is ill, then obviously there’s some flexibility there.

Richard

Yes, there is flexibility. That’s what a good faith relationship between the Provider and the Participant should be. There should be flexibility. There shouldn’t be too strict a guidelines because we all know that things change from time to time, even from day to day at some stages.

So yes. It needs to be taken in good faith and there needs to be that flexibility, understanding and respect on both sides.

Erin

Next thing then. The Service is being provided and everyone’s happy with that. What happens with regards to payment? Tell me a little bit more about the NDIS and how this is dealt with.

Richard

There’s a couple of ways this can be done. Some people self fund and they arrange to pay invoices from the provider. But generally the most common form of payment is that the Provider will make a claim through the NDIS portal and they will claim that funding as per the Agreement. That’s how it happens and that’s the majority of things happening.

Erin

Things may have been going well, maybe not so well depending upon the circumstances. How do you go about ending a Service Agreement? Obviously you would prefer things to.. maybe there is a change in life situation that requires a change in Service Agreement so you have to end one Service Agreement before you can start another. Tell me about that.

Richard

There should be in your Service Agreement the details about how to end a Service Agreement. You don’t need a reason. You can just say ‘It’s time for me to finish this agreement. I no longer need your services.’ That should be in there. There should be an agreement about how much notice should be given, it might be a week in the case of some kind of service like inhouse support.

Erin

.. or community access?

Richard

.. yes, community access. Or it could be longer in the case of accommodation which is a big ship to turn around sometimes. So that should be in there absolutely and everybody should know what the notice period is.

Erin

Right. So, that going OK and you’ve ended up the Service Agreement. There may be room for improvement from the Service Provider or [a change in] the Participants situation as well. How do you go about feedback and complaints?

Richard

Yes. There should also be feedback and complaints and dispute resolution allowances within the Service Agreement. So there should be a way you can make a complaint or get a dispute resolved. That should be spelled out and agreed upon.

Erin

And you don’t want that to be something that gets to the boil. You want a mechanism through feedback and complaints to deal with these things as any issues as they arise so that they can be resolved as soon as possible to both parties agreement.

Is there anything else we need to know?

Richard

Besides the basics that we’ve just talked about, do always have a knowledge of your Service Agreement. Don’t put it in a draw, it’s a living document as they say. And make sure you understand it. If you don’t, get someone to help you understand it and you’ll be fine.

Erin

Thank you very much Richard.

Richard

Thanks Erin.