Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

We know that these are worrying times and you will have many questions about how Coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting your services and your relationship with Northcott. Here we try to answer the most commonly asked questions. We will keep you updated as government and health advice changes.

Our Services

Is Northcott still offering therapy and support services?
Yes. Northcott is still offering its full range of services - including In Home and Community Supports. However, we are adapting some services into online options and will continue to adapt as the situation progresses. If you have any questions or need help, contact your Coordinator, Individual Plan Advisor or Customer Liaison Consultant.

Is Northcott offering any online services?
Yes. Northcott continues to provide Centre Based Services such as Everyday Life Skills Training, Skills 4 Life, plus Vocational Skills Training and Employment during the pandemic. Customers can participate in online options from the comfort of their homes. We are also still offering face-to-face services for customers who prefer to come into our centres.

Many of our Therapy services are being offered via telehealth. This is a good option for customers who are in isolation. In NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI), we are already offering both plan reviews and first plan meetings via videoconference or telephone. We are reviewing our full range of services on a day-by-day basis and will continue to adapt and increase online options as the situation changes.

 

Support Workers

Will I still be able to access Support Workers?
Yes. As an essential service, Northcott will continue to provide Support Workers for the various needs of our customers. We will do our best to match customers with their preferred Support Workers, but this may not always be possible due to the changing demands on our staff during the pandemic. Northcott has a large team of Support Workers to service our customers during this time, and is undertaking a range of activities to bolster our work force. This includes offering permanent part-time positions to casual employees.

There are many activities that Support Workers can assist with – including shopping, pick-ups, cooking and facilitating participation in activities – so if you need something, don’t hesitate to ask your Coordinator, Individual Plan Advisor or Customer Liaison Consultant. You can also call Northcott’s friendly Customer Service Team on 1800 818 286.

Is it true that disability service providers are employing Support Coordinators from overseas during the pandemic?
We are aware of some concern about this among people with disability. All of Northcott’s approximately 2,500 staff have been hired in, and are based in, Australia. We have no plans to source employees from overseas.

 

Health and Safety

What if there is a case of COVID-19 in a Northcott centre or home?
Please be assured that here at Northcott we are well prepared for any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. We have held online workshops for our frontline Managers on the new Northcott Protocol Guidelines for COVID-19. Our Managers, in turn, are working through the comprehensive guidelines with their teams.

As an organisation Northcott prides itself on being a leader in the disability services sector. We recently forwarded our Protocol Guidelines for COVID-19 to the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission for their review – and they will be adapting our guidelines for their own use. So we are very comfortable that our staff are well prepared to deal with any eventuality during this crisis. Please also see Northcott’s response to practising good hygiene and other safety measures in the question below.

What is Northcott doing to keep customers and staff safe and healthy?
Northcott is following requirements of the NSW Department of Health and we talk regularly with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and the Australian Government to ensure we are following their advice. We have formed a COVID-19 Response Working Group to monitor the situation each day and adapt our way of working to keep our customers and staff safe and healthy.

Customers, visitors and staff who do not normally work or live in a Northcott office, centre or home are now required to answer a series of screening questions and wash / sanitise their hands before entering. Visitors to our group homes are limited to families / carers plus people doing essential work or maintenance.

We have increased cleaning schedules and products at Northcott buildings and homes, and introduced additional Mandatory Infection Prevention and Control (COVID-19) Training for all staff. Staff are following social distancing guidelines wherever practical and ensuring no sharing of utensils, equipment and personal items.

 

NDIS Booking and Plans

Why has the cancellation policy changed?
The NDIS is very concerned about making sure that disability support providers, like Northcott, can continue to function and provide services, especially when less people are attending day programs, therapy sessions or community supports. If people cancel at very short notice we have usually rostered staff to attend those shifts and don’t always have the flexibility to reassign them. Northcott is following the new NDIS policies around this.

Why have the prices of some services increased by 10%?
Another element that the NDIS has changed to ensure that disability support providers remain viable is to increase the prices for some services by 10% for a 6-month period. This is reflected in the current NDIS Price Guide.

Can I shift funding around within my NDIS plan?
Yes. The NDIS is being more flexible about shifting funds between different areas of your plan, especially Capacity Building and Core Supports.

What happens if my NDIS plan is about to expire?
The NDIS will now automatically renew your plan for an additional 365 days if it is about to expire. This is to provide certainty to you and your provider that there won’t be any gaps in funding.

Can I still review my plan?
Yes. You can still ask for a plan review if your circumstances or needs have changed.

All of these NDIS changes are very confusing. Is there anyone that can help me?
If you need guidance with these changes to ensure that you get the best out of your NDIS package, you should speak to your Support Coordinator. If you don’t already have a Support Coordinator you can now access this support from Core Supports. Northcott is a registered Support Coordination provider and your Account Manager can link you with a reliable Support Coordinator.

 

Other Questions

I am having trouble accessing external supports, such as priority shopping and home delivery for NDIS participants. Can Northcott help?
We will certainly try. The Australian Government and individual businesses, both large and small, have introduced a range of measures to support people during these extraordinary times. We understand that the volume of messages in the community about COVID-19 can be very overwhelming. If you believe you should be entitled to a particular support or benefit and need more information, or don’t know how to access it, talk to your Coordinator, Individual Plan Advisor or Customer Liaison Consultant. They will work with you to get some answers.