The new CEO of the National Disability Insurance Agency has announced on Wednesday it will ditch phone-based planning and introduce in person plan development for all participants.

The move follows high dissatisfaction from consumers about the planning process including phone calls being made without warning, rushed conversations, client confusion and poor quality outcomes, such as planners being unable to assess a person’s home environment.

Phone planning was originally introduced by the NDIA to speed up the process by which people entered the scheme, but participants have indicated a strong preference for face-to-face planning. NDIS consumers can currently request an in-person meeting.

NDIA CEO Robert De Luca said the new pathway was in response to feedback from participants and providers that their experience “was not meeting expected standards.”

The pathway was developed from workshops and discussions with over 300 people with disability, their families, carers and providers, the NDIA said.

The changes announced include a consistent point of contact for consumers, improved communication and a stronger focus on the broader system of supports for people with disability, such as health, education and transport, to promote inclusion and community.

The agency said it would also improve the NDIS portal and tools, and simplify processes to reduce the administrative cost for providers.

“As part of the new provider pathway, the NDIA will provide better information and insights to support business decisions and make it easier for providers to transact with the scheme and connect with participants,” said Mr De Luca.

Work is also underway to develop more tailored pathways for clients with psychosocial disability, Indigenous Australians and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

The changes will be piloted before being rolled out nationally.

Dr Ken Baker, chief executive of disability provider peak National Disability Services, said the announcement was a welcome acknowledgment from the agency the scheme needed improving.

Read more information about the new NDIS pathway here.

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