About Real Support Choices

Erik and Rick Hipwood are the father and son behind Contractor Toolbox, an accounting, bookkeeping and business solution that helps contractors run their own business. Erik and Rick also own a revolutionary technology platform called Real Support Choices (RSC).  A mobile platform that simplifies care processes for self managing NDIS participants that ultimately saves time and money.  From booking carers to paying carers, RSC includes scheduling, financial tools, timesheet and reporting, to manage the secure transfer of funds from participants to carers, and integrates with accounting platform Xero. 

The NDIS self-managed care model

The Australian Federal Government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has changed the delivery of disability services from a welfare to an insurance model. The $26 billion-a-year scheme enables people with disability to take more control and self-manage their care.

Currently, only about three per cent of Australians with a disability self-manage their care. The government hopes this will increase to 40% with the NDIS, giving participants much more care under the same care package. But to meet this ambitious target, participants would need a better tool to simplify the management of care. Erik, Rick and their business partner Stuart Spalding set out to find a business and technology consulting partner, to develop an app for people with a disability to easily self manage their care, and Real Support Choices was born. Erik and the team were introduced to Telstra’s Readify team, and after learning about Readify’s co-design process and hearing about the results Readify delivered for other customers, engaged them to partner on the design and development of the RSC self management care system.

Meeting the needs of a diverse user base

User experience and accessibility were going to be crucial to the project’s success. The project team worked with Peter Yeo, a participant who was already self-managing his care, to understand the requirements of the end user. Previously using a care provider, Peter realised 40% of his budget was spent on paperwork rather than the delivery of care.

*“It became clear there was phenomenal waste and inefficiency siphoning my care budget,” *said Peter.

“Peter was heavily involved through the development, helping Readify gain a deep understanding of his challenges and test ideas to ensure each action could be chosen with the fewest clicks,” Erik said.

“Having Peter test our work, challenged the preconceptions of what participants and carers needed. His input was vital to ensure we designed the right solution,” said Andrew Philips, Readify.

The solution also had to be secure to protect participant and carer data, reliable and accessible so people could manage their schedule anywhere anytime from any device, and elastic to avoid paying for resources when not in use. It also needed to scale up as more participants signed on but be simple to manage, with the software doing the repetitive work.

Adapting to NDIS policy changes

Unlike most projects where the customer is in charge of the brief, Readify and the RSC team had to be ready to adapt the solution to policy changes made by the government.

“The NDIS itself was a complicating factor from a development perspective because aspects of it changed as it got closer to rollout. You can’t always scope or design for those changes because you don’t know they are coming. However, the way we built the software meant we were able to change the application as the NDIS changed,” Andrew said.

“We were very impressed with Readify’s agile approach. They set a clear goal, sourced top-class technology and ironed out any bugs really quickly” said Erik.

The journey to a self-managed care model

Armed with the insights from Peter, the project team worked together in an agile way to develop the application in Microsoft Azure. Real Support Choices launched in parallel with the NDIS Queensland roll out in July 2018. The fully automated solution allows care recipients to self manage their care in a matter of clicks.

“Users can create weekly schedules and the information is sent automatically to their careers. The carer completes the shift and submits their timesheet in one click. If the timesheet agrees with the rostered time, the system automatically approves it. If the timesheet differs in any way from the roster, the software automatically sends the timesheet to Peter for approval. A daily sweep seamlessly collects all approved timesheets and transfers them to the payroll system to pay the carer,” Erik explained.

Readify’s app has made a big difference in Peter’s life. The lengthy and tiring spreadsheet process is replaced by a few clicks in the app.

“Real Support Choices is just so simple to use. I don’t feel like a person with a disability using this system. It has changed my life,” said Peter.

It also gives Peter complete control and visibility of how his care funding is used, as the app is updated in real time. He can check the balance of funds available to easily track his spending, and provide a report on his care arrangements. For carers, the app eliminates inefficient paper processes, and helps ensure carers are paid on time, with no friction or effort.

“I know exactly when my shifts are and if something changes, I get a notification on my phone. The system is so simple, I can complete my timesheet in just a click and I am always paid on time,” said one RSC carer.

“The app perfectly delivers on NDIS’ vision to give full control to participants. They can now manage their care in a few clicks and better keep track of their care budget,” Erik said.

Erik concluded by saying that;

“Our experience with Readify has been magnificent. They really got behind the idea and achieved a lot in a very short space of time to deliver a product that makes a real difference to people’s lives.”

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