Registered NDIS provider
SCHADS-Clients2022-06-21T14:20:34+11:00

Changes to sessions with your allied health assistant (AHA)

Overview

Due to policy changes imposed on all disability workers by FairWork, the following changes will come into effect from July 1st, 2022.

  • For our capacity building users, the minimum session length will increase from 1 hour to 1.5 hours.

A note from our CEO

At Ally Assist, we have two key goals. Firstly, to give clients a great therapy experience and help them maximise their NDIS budgets, and secondly to invest in the next generation of Australia’s allied health workforce.

With those goals in mind, we hire all of our allied health assistants (AHAs) as employees, rather than as independent contractors like many other organisations. This means our AHAs have access to support that allows them to deliver a great therapy experience for you.

When creating jobs in Australia, all employers need to comply with the rules set out by FairWork, the government organisation that decided the standards of work for employers.

Recently, FairWork has announced changes to the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services (SCHADS) Award that our AHAs fall under.

There are details below on how we are implementing these changes, but we wanted to stress that we aren’t making these changes lightly. They are only being made to adhere to FairWork so that we can continue to deliver an amazing therapy experience for as many clients as possible across Australia.

We’ve already heard from many of our community about how the changes FairWork are implementing may impact their ability to work with an allied health assistant, and we’ve done our best to bear the brunt of these changes.

The situation is still evolving daily, and there may be other changes still to come as NDIS and FairWork continue to discuss. We want to thank you for your understanding and hope to continue to help you reach your goals long into the future.

Kind regards,

Dr Sam Donegan

Medical Doctor, CEO and Cofounder at Ally Assist

Changes from July 1st

Minimum session length increase

For our capacity building users

  • From July 1st 2022, the minimum session length will increase from 1 hour to 1.5 hours. This includes Telehealth sessions.
  • This means any time a person with disability works with one of our allied health assistants on a weekday or weekend, the minimum amount you’ll be charged for will be 1.5 hours.
  • You can still have sessions longer than 1.5 hours if you wish.
  • For sessions shorter than 1.5 hours we will factor in allied health assistant travel, note writing or preparation time to enable your sessions to meet the 1.5 hour minimum requirement.
  • Public holiday minimum session length will be 2 hours. You can still have sessions longer than 2 hours if you wish.

For our core support users

  • There will be no change
  • The minimum session length will still be 2 hours on all days of the year. This includes Telehealth sessions.
Why this change?

From July 1st 2022, The SCHADS award states that regardless of shift length, an allied health assistant must be paid for at least 2 hours.

We’ve heard from our users that 2 hours may be too long for a session, so to minimise the impact on your ability to work with an allied health assistant, Ally Assist will make up the difference by charging you for 1.5 hour sessions but paying the allied health assistant for 2 hours.

What might this look like?

Example 1: Therapy session with preparation time (using capacity building funds)

Luke is a 5-year-old boy living with Autism who has goals related to communication and building morning routines. Luke sees Nat, his allied health assistant, twice per week, to either help out with his before school routine (as prescribed by his OT), or after school to help him practice the homework set by his speech pathologist. Usually, their sessions range from 1 hour to 1.5 hours long

Starting from July 1st 2022, Luke’s family will be billed for Nat’s services where the minimum session length is 1.5 hours. To compensate for this change, Nat agrees to spend a bit more time preparing for each session and creating resources she can use to better engage Luke. Keeping in mind the time it takes for Nat to travel to Luke’s house, altogether she is working for around 1.5 hours each time she sees Luke.

Nat is paid for 2 hours of work by Ally Assist to match the SCHADS award set by Fairwork.

Example 2: Two consecutive 1-hour sessions with siblings (using capacity building funds)

Ali and Mohammed are 7 and 5 years old respectively, and are seeing their allied health assistant Ting to help with their speech delay. Ting sees Ali first for a session lasting one hour, then immediately spends another hour with Mohammed.

Although Ting only spends an hour with each child, because Ting’s total time working is 2 hours (1 hour with each child), the change that comes into effect on July 1st 2022 doesn’t affect Ali and Mohammed’s family, and each child is billed only for 1-hour-long sessions.

Ting is paid for 2 hours of work by Ally Assist in keeping with the SCHADS award set by Fairwork.

Example 3: community and social participation session (using core support – no change)

Kota is a young boy living with Cerebral Palsy and sees Nathan twice per week to help Kota with community and social participation. They go to the movies, practise using public transport and try purchasing basic items like getting a coffee from the local cafe.

Although Nathan is an Occupational Therapy student, Kota engages Nathan more like a support worker in this case and uses funding from his Core Support budget.

Kota’s sessions already have a 2-hour minimum and as such, he is not affected by the changes that occur on July 1st 2022.

Example 4: Adult conducting physical therapy (using capacity building)

Ethan is a 49 year old man with Motor Neurone Disease who has been prescribed an exercise program by his physiotherapist. He also has an allied health assistant Amara, who helps him practise these exercises twice per week. Usually their sessions would last 1 hour, as Ethan becomes quite tired around this time.

Due to this Fairwork change, Ethan needs to book Amara for 1.5 hours instead of their usual 1 hour. Ethan and his wife work with Ally Assist to find the best way for Amara to make this most of this extra time, which ends up including Amara being compensated for her travel time and the time she takes to prepare for the sessions and write her notes.

Amara is paid for 2 hours of work by Ally Assist to match the SCHADS award set by Fairwork.

FAQs

Does Ally Assist have a choice in implementing these changes from FairWork?2022-06-29T12:32:02+11:00

No, Ally Assist does not have a choice in implementing these changes from FairWork.

FairWork is a government organisation that decides the minimum standards for employees. When creating jobs, all employers must comply with the rules FairWork sets out. 

Ally Assist’s allied health assistants (AHAs) fall under the Social Community Home and Disability Services (SHADS) Award. Any changes that occur to this award will affect Ally Assist and our AHAs.

Are Meet and Greets changing?2022-06-29T12:32:02+11:00

Meet and Greets are not changing. They are unpaid and you are not charged for them, as they are more similar to an interview than a session of therapy.

Will these changes affect sessions my allied health assistant has with our allied health professional?2022-06-29T12:32:01+11:00

These changes will affect sessions your allied health assistant has with your allied health professional. If your allied health assistant has joint sessions with your allied health professional that usually last for 1 hour, we can work with you to identify how best your allied health assistant can use the additional 30 minutes of their session.

This may include covering their travel time to the session, any preparation they did for the session, or any time it takes them to complete their notes at the end of the session. 

Why aren’t all companies making these same changes?2022-06-29T12:32:01+11:00

Companies can engage their workers as contractors or employees. If a company engages their workers as a contractor, they may be unaffected by this change in the SCHADs award. 

For the disability sector, we believe treating workers as employees is a much safer option for those involved. By taking responsibility and treating our workers as our employees, it means that if something goes wrong, the person with disability isn’t going to get into trouble. 

Hireup, another online company that treats their workers as employees, has more information on why this is important, and why it’s the right thing to do here: https://hireup.com.au/the-hireup-difference/

I’m already having sessions longer than 1.5 hours, am I affected by this change?2022-06-29T12:32:01+11:00

These changes will not affect you if you are already having sessions that last for 1.5 hours or more. Sessions will continue for you as normal. 

Also, while your allied health assistant will be getting paid for 2 hours of their time you won’t be charged any extra.

My sessions usually only go for 1 hour – will this change affect me?2022-06-29T12:32:01+11:00

These changes will affect you if your session normally only goes for 1 hour. Starting from July 1st 2022, the minimum session length your allied health assistant can have with you will be 1.5 hours long. If your sessions are usually 1 hour long, we can factor in allied health assistant travel, preparation time and note-writing into the 1.5 hour charged to you.  

Why are these changes occurring?2022-06-29T12:32:01+11:00

Every four years, the FairWork Commission undertakes a review of the SCHADS Award to determine any changes required to the reasonable conditions of workers, including the disability sector. There are submissions from stakeholders, including employers, peaks and unions. The most recent review was undertaken in late 2021, and the changes were announced in April 2022.

In order to adhere to the SCHADS award that our allied health assistants (AHAs) fall under, Ally Assist needs to factor in these changes.

What are some ways that I could maximise my 1.5 hour session?2022-06-29T12:32:01+11:00

There are some benefits afforded by a 1.5 hour minimum for sessions with allied health assistants (AHAs).

If you’ve had difficulties in the past finding an AHA near you, and don’t believe your client would benefit from 1.5 full hours of therapy, you could use some of that time to contribute to travel time so that you can widen your search radius for an AHA.

Most AHAs we’ve spoken with ahead of these changes have also mentioned that they often spend time ahead of sessions preparing materials for sessions. Chat with your AHA to see if they are spending time outside of sessions preparing and see if you could support them by contributing to that time out of the 1.5 hour minimum session time.

If you don’t believe your client would benefit from one 1.5 hour session, you could experiment with breaking the session up into smaller sections with short breaks or other activities that are less intense like playing games, or working on homework. 

My allied health assistant usually spends 30 minutes preparing for our 1 hour sessions – does this count?2022-06-29T12:32:00+11:00

If your allied health assistant usually spends 30 minutes preparing for a 1 hour session you will still be charged for 1.5 hours. Tasks that can fall into the category of preparation include creating resources or games for use during the session.

Your allied health assistant will be paid for 2 hours of their time.

Will these changes affect me if I’m using Core Support funding?2022-06-28T12:30:48+11:00

These changes will not affect anyone using their Core Support funding. There is already a minimum session length of 2 hours for sessions using Core Support funding.

Do these changes affect sessions I have with my Ally Assist allied health professional?2022-06-28T12:30:48+11:00

These changes do not affect any sessions you have with your Ally Assist allied health professional. Allied health professionals are employed full-time and therefore work standard hours, so no minimum session times apply to sessions with them.

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