How Can Health and Wellness Coaches Work in NDIS

With the rapid growth of the Health and Wellness Coaching industry in 2024, and a spotlight on mental health and wellbeing, there are growing opportunities for coaches within the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) as a viable work option.

In February 2024, NDIS stated that over 646,000 Australians were receiving support under the NDIS, a substantial increase from 250,000 individuals in 2021. There are plenty of opportunities for qualified professionals to support people and make a difference.

Health Coaches Australia and New Zealand Association (HCANZA) coach Karina Morris is at the forefront of health and wellness coaching in the NDIS and this article has been updated in consultation with Karina.

If you’re interested in working in the NDIS in 2024 as a Health and Wellness Coach, this article gives you some pointers on how to get started. Note that the NDIS is an evolving system, and this article may be updated in future with new information.

If you are interested in being a Psychosocial Recovery Coach, this is a different role more related to support coordination. A health coaching qualification is helpful, but you would also need either lived experience and/or mental health qualifications, and it is not specifically a coaching role. Contact the NDIS for more information.

About NDIS and it’s Structure

 

The government-run National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) delivers the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to people with a disability. The goal of the scheme is to identify needs and provide support as early as possible, to help improve their outcomes later in life.

Individuals qualify to receive a plan via an application and planning process which helps them to establish their NDIS plan and their goals which might include pursuing goals, becoming more independent, and/or being more active in the community and at work.

Support needs are based on the individual’s circumstances and diagnosed disability, their specific needs and goals. The supports chosen for the plan must be both “reasonable” and “necessary” as defined by the NDIS. The funding criteria is subject to change from 2024 as part of a review process.

The individual needs to identify the supports they need and are eligible for, to monitor their budget and engage in reviews in one of three ways:

  1. NDIA-managed (registered providers only),
  2. Plan Managed (registered and non-registered providers), or
  3. Self-managed (registered and non-registered providers).

Individuals may or may not have a support coordinator to assist them in this process, depending on their plan.

Coaching in the NDIS

Do Coaches Need to be Registered Providers in the NDIS?
 

A starting point for working in NDIS is to consider registering as a provider.

Do coaches need to be register providers in the NDIS? The short answer is no, but there are differences in how you can work within the NDIS based on whether you register as a provider or not.

If you register as a provider, you have scope to work with any clients as long as they have funding provided – so you have access to potentially more clients.

If you decide not to register, you will only be able to work with clients who are self-managed, or some who are plan managed.

However, the system is changing, and NDIS may require all providers to be Registered in future.

Areas a Coach Can Work in NDIS

 
Health and Wellness Coaches can work in two main areas – Core Support and/or Capacity Building – under the categories of Therapy Supports or Disability-Related Health Supports if they are HCANZA Professional Members. That’s because Professional Members are recognised by Australian peak body for health coaches (HCANZA) and are therefore required to maintain a professional standard of conduct, training and ongoing professional development.

Generally, there is a focus on working alongside other health professionals to support their work.

NDIS Coaching Pay Rates

 

Hourly rates vary according to qualifications and role. Rates are by negotiation with either a Support Coordinator or the individual, for the different support categories listed in the individual’s plan.

As a coach, you access funds depending on the type of plan the individual has, and your agreement with them. Alternatively, you may be working for an employer and negotiating your rates with them.

As mentioned above, when a Health and Wellness Coach works in Core Supports or Capacity Building (under Therapy Supports as an ‘other professional’), the pay rate is up to a maximum of $193.99 per hour, depending on recognised qualifications and the level at which they are working.

Please visit the current NDIS pricing arrangements and price limits 2024-25 for more information which includes standard rates and an upper limit for what can be charged in each category.

What is it Like to Work with NDIS clients?

 

In 2021, WCA graduate Octavia Chabrier talked about her work in wellness empowerment within the NDIS. Octavia says “To be successful in a coaching role within the NDIS, the key is to build good rapport with Support Coordinators. I’m getting my name out there and am starting to get referrals.

A Support Coordinator recently referred a client to me who wanted support but did not wish to work with a psychologist. The Support Coordinator described me as someone who could offer coaching, mindfulness and body work which represents a blend of my skills and qualifications. I love the fact that I can use the various tools in my toolbox to help people take simple, tangible steps toward their goals, according to each client’s unique needs.”

Karina Morris presents another compelling point of view: “Within the NDIS, I find myself mostly working in a team environment – what I call the ‘support network’ which includes the participant, their carers (paid carers and/or family) and allied health professionals. I’m working with people who have all kinds and levels of disabilities, some of whom are inspiring in terms of wanting to get back to work and live more functional lives. Some have made small but significant changes that really improve their health literacy, food choices, weight management, levels of activity, confidence, clarity and memory, and mental wellbeing generally. I find it incredibly rewarding to work with people with a disability to improve their health, and to improve the disability support industry as a whole.”

Summary

 

The NDIS offers an entry point for qualified health and wellness coaches to offer meaningful support to people in a variety of ways, and through a few main entry points.

The first decision to make is whether to go through the provider registration process or not.

To help you make that decision, it is worth considering the type of work you might like to do and what you are qualified to do within the NDIS system, in terms of specific item numbers and pay. From there, it is a matter of networking with various agencies in the system to become known, and to learn how to enrol clients.

This is a very abbreviated summary of a complex system. If you are interested in getting started as a coach within the NDIS and need support, we recommend reaching out to the NDIS for further information or contact Karina Morris for more information.

References:

NDIS, 2019. A quarter of a million Australians now benefitting from NDISNDIS website, accessed 25.11.2020.

NDIS website. Accessed 01.07.2024.

White, M. 2019. Working with the National Disability Insurance Scheme Framework. Wellness Coaching Australia website.