Tina James and her colleagues at In Sync SA like to joke that they are “translators” of the sometimes complex National Disability Insurance Scheme. They find and coordinate supports with participants of the NDIS, to help them get the best value from their allocated funding, tailored to their individual needs.
In Sync SA visits clients in their homes and you can also come to see them at their new rooms at co-able! We had a chat to General Manager and Principal Support Coordinator Tina, about In Sync SA and their new chapter at co-able.
What services does In Sync SA provide?
We provide Support Coordination services. If you asked our Support Coordinators, they'd probably tell you 100 different things that we do in this role but essentially, we support NDIS participants to find the people or services that can help them achieve their goals.
When we first meet a new client, we have a chat, find out what their needs are, discuss their available funding and then go looking for the people or services to support them to meet those needs. This may be by using their NDIS funding or by linking them with mainstream or community services in their area. We have great relationships with a large network of groups and providers locally and interstate.
We also support clients to prepare for plan reviews or to request reviews of their funding when needed. We then help coordinate and navigate the process from start to finish.
Do your clients have a different range of disabilities?
Yes, they do. Our team work mainly with adults and our Support Coordinators have a broad range of experience of supporting people living with various disabilities.
Some of our clients are living with progressive neurological conditions, like Multiple Sclerosis or Huntington's Disease or some may have sustained a brain injury and are transitioning home from hospital.
Our Mental Health Support Coordinator, Claire, has been a Mental Health and Registered Nurse for (quite) a few years and she supports our clients who are living with mental illness.
We are so fortunate to have such a skilled team, and they are fabulous humans too!
What led you to starting In Sync SA?
I've been a nurse for many years but I started working as a support worker in the disability sector about 6 years ago. When the NDIS was rolling out, I wanted to learn more, so I started working as a Local Area Coordinator here in South Australia. Working as an LAC was a hugely valuable opportunity to be able to learn and understand the NDIS processes. In fact, all of our Support Coordinators have worked as LAC’s which is really helpful!
I've always had a passion for business and a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit.
So, with my experience and background, I decided I could support the participants of the NDIS better as a service provider, helping to navigate these sometimes complex processes. Now I also have a great team I work with who feel the same way.
Would you say that it's hard for most people to navigate the NDIS?
I would say it can be a challenge. There's not a lot of black and white “yes” or “no” with the NDIS.
A decision that's made for one person, will be different to another due to so many varying reasons.
One real challenge is that the NDIS processes change so quickly and so regularly. Sometimes it's even difficult for the people who are working at the NDIS to be across the latest updates to a process!
It is so important for us as Support Coordinators to stay informed of the changes on a regular basis, because it can make a big difference to the outcome.
I think this is one area where we really make a difference for our clients.
What kind of feedback do you receive from clients after you've helped them navigate the NDIS?
This part is the most important! Our Office Manager contacts our clients regularly to check in that our service is working for them. Communication and feedback is really important to us.
The main thing we hear is that we've just made things easier.
By understanding a process or wording in a plan and knowing, “Well, actually, what that means is this, or what happens next is that.” NDIS definitely has its own language!
We also hear how helpful it is being able to give clients that one point of contact. For them to be able to pick up the phone and say, “I don't know how to do this, what does this mean, could I buy that or where can I find one of those?”
What do you love about your job?
Definitely the people and helping those people to realise just how much support they can access through the NDIS or through programs that are available and accessible.
I genuinely love the NDIS. I love the choices that it helps people to have. I love the collaborative conversations and the changes we get to see in people's lives.
Just today, I visited a client who had modifications done in their home. It's the first time in the three years that I've known him that he's been able to mobilise in his powered wheelchair, through the front door, to every room and then out to into his backyard. He had never been able to access so many parts of his home before. It was his lounge room only, even his bed was in the lounge!
To be a part of that process was really rewarding.
How are you enjoying your new rooms in the co-able building?
I have never seen an office space like co-able.
There is a contemporary feel, with wide corridors and doors, a lift and some great shared spaces to meet with our clients. It is also animal friendly, so my dog comes to work with me when I’m at the office!
I really like the Port Adelaide heritage too. You can feel that the building has character. The design creates a real warmth and you can feel the history in it. Definitely not just a clinical, medical building!
We love that the space feels person centred and all providers in the building support people with disability.
You can find In Sync SA at co-able five days a week. To find out more or contact them click here.