CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY AND PROCEDURE

Purpose and Scope

The purpose of this policy and procedure is to set out how Correlate Connections manages conflicts of interest in an open and transparent manner.

It applies to all staff and meets relevant legislation, regulations and Standards as set out in Schedule 1, Legislative References.

Applicable NDIS Practice Standards

Governance and Operational Management

Outcome

Each participant’s support is overseen by robust governance and operational management systems relevant (proportionate) to the size and scale of the provider and the scope and complexity of supports delivered.

Indicators

. Perceived and actual conflicts of interest are proactively managed and documented, including through development and maintenance of organisational policies.

Conflict of Interest Specialised Support Coordination

Outcome

Each participant receives transparent, factual advice about their support options which promotes choice and control.

Indicators

  • Conflict of interest policies are provided or explained to each participant using the language, mode of communication and terms that the participant is most likely to understand.
  • Each participant is supported to understand the distinction between the provision of specialised support coordination and other reasonable and necessary supports funded under a participant’s plan using the language, mode of communication and terms that the participant is most likely to understand.
  • If the provider has an interest in any support option available to the participant, the participant is aware of this interest. The participant understands that any choice they made about providers of other supports will not impact on the provision of the specialised support coordination.
  • Referrals to and from other providers are documented for each participant.

Definitions

Conflict of Interest

A situation where a person can derive a real or perceived benefit from actions or decisions made in their official capacity, where their decision is affected by relationships. These relationships can be because of family, friends or other positions they hold (for example, sitting on Boards).[1]

Registered Support Coordination Provider

– an NDIS provider who is registered to help NDIS clients to identify, connect with and work with service providers who provide the supports best suited to them. These providers must be registered to provide Support Coordination.

Policy

Correlate Connections acts with integrity, honesty and transparency and supports clients’ choice and control. This includes disclosing any conflicts of interest – perceived or actual – that may impact how it delivers supports.

Procedures

General
When making decisions, staff should consider:

  • whether they have any personal or private interests in a matter that may conflict or be perceived to conflict with their duties;
  • whether there could be a benefit for them, their family or their friends into the future if they are involved in a particular matter;
  • how their involvement will be viewed by others; and
  • whether their involvement in a decision being made appears fair and reasonable.

All staff should avoid involving themselves in matters that conflict with their duties to Correlate Connections and the clients they support. Where a conflict is unavoidable, staff must declare it to the Director as soon as practicable after they become aware of it. This includes actual, potential and perceived conflicts of interest.

Staff who are uncertain about whether a conflict of interest exists should seek advice from the Director or Leadership Team before proceeding.

Once a conflict of interest has been declared, the Leadership Team must decide what action to take to manage it. Conflicts of Interest must be recorded and monitored in Correlate Connections’ Risk Register.

Staff must not accept any money, gifts, benefits or commissions that could interfere with their ability or willingness to act in clients’ best interests. Nor must they take advantage of their position to directly or indirectly gain a personal benefit or a benefit for another person or body.

NDIS Considerations

Staff must declare all potential, perceived and real conflicts of interest that could impact how they deliver supports, to all relevant clients or prospective clients. This includes conflicts of interest relating to financial, business or personal matters, as well as any financial or business interests that Correlate Connections has with other organisations.

When providing supports to clients, staff must not influence or direct clients’ or their supporters’ decision-making, or limit their access to information, choice and control. Advice and information provided about support options (in and outside Correlate Connections) must be accurate, transparent and objective. All clients must be treated equally and not given preferential treatment above others.

Correlate Connections provides information about conflicts of interest to clients, their families and carers in a variety of ways. This includes through Correlate Connections’ website, social media channels, advertising, signage, handbooks and brochures. Written information can be explained verbally by staff. Correlate Connections staff can also help clients access interpreters or advocates where required.

Correlate Connections endeavors to provide information in formats that accommodate current and anticipated participant needs. This includes taking into account participants’ cultural background, disability and specific communication needs.

Support Coordination

When delivering Support Coordination, staff must only recommend and provide supports that are appropriate to the needs of clients. This means providing truthful information about the:

  • supports, services or products delivered by providers, including Correlate Connections;
  • capacity, qualifications, training and professional affiliations of providers and their staff, including Correlate Connections and its staff; and
  • full costs of supports and what these include.

Information provided to support clients’ decision making may include: quotes, cost breakdowns for different support options; other people’s feedback about supports they’ve received and the risks and benefits of different supports.

Delivery of additional supports

Correlate Connections must include and monitor the conflict of interest related to delivering Support Coordination along with other NDIS supports in its Risk Register.

This conflict of interest must be declared to all clients using Correlate Connections’ Support Coordination services, as part of their intake and assessment. Strategies to address the conflict must also be explained. Should a client choose to use another provider because of this conflict, staff must respect their decision.

Strategies Correlate Connections has in place to manage the conflict of interest involved in delivering Support Coordination along with other NDIS supports include:

  • maintaining a clear separation of responsibilities between Support Coordination staff and other staff, as detailed in the Governance Policy and Procedure;
  • providing clients with the option of several providers for each type of support they are seeking;
  • where only one option of provider can be suggested for a particular support, thoroughly documenting the rationale for this, and reviewing it regularly;
  • keeping detailed records of any issues that arise with supports provided to a client by Correlate Connections, including the actions taken and how the issue was resolved;
  • continually working with clients and other areas of Correlate Connections to understand how well their supports are meeting their needs and adjusting support delivery before issues emerge;
  • explaining the difference between Support Coordination and other supports funded in clients’ NDIS plans, including the requirement that supports provided be reasonable and necessary; and
  • explaining that any choice clients make about providers of other supports will not impact the provision of their Support Coordination.

People must also be informed about their right to change Support Coordinators and how they can go about doing so, as well as Correlate Connections’ feedback and complaints processes (see the Feedback and Complaints Policy and Procedure).

Supported Independent Living

Clients must be given the choice of the service providers who provide support to them. Regardless of which service provider/s they choose, their housing rights, including security of tenure, must be upheld.

Where Correlate Connections delivers supported independent living services in properties that it owns or has interests in, staff must disclose this conflict of interest to clients, as part of their intake and assessment. Strategies to address the conflict must also be explained. Should a client choose to use another provider because of this conflict, staff must respect their decision.

Supporting Documents

Documents relevant to this policy and procedure include:

  • Risk Register

Monitoring and Review

This policy and procedure will be reviewed at least annually by the Leadership Team. Reviews will incorporate staff, client and other stakeholder feedback, where relevant.

All methods of obtaining feedback will be used to assess client and staff satisfaction with Correlate Connections’ conflict of interest processes and provide stakeholders with the opportunity to provide feedback on areas for improvement.

Correlate Connections’ Continuous Improvement Register will be used to record improvements identified and monitor the progress of their implementation. Where relevant, this information will be considered as part of Correlate Connections’ service planning and delivery processes.