URGENT: Update for Driving Instructor Participants of Williams OT
This information is also vital for referrers such as family member, Support Coordinators, LACs, and plan managers, etc.
I write to you to inform you of changes happening to Williams OT for driving lessons.
Please note that this is only for specialised motor driving instructor lessons. Other services are not affected.
If you have been attending driving lessons with Williams OT since 2019 you would have been involved in some recent changes to make our driving school more functional. At the start of the year, we introduced driving hubs. We thank all clients that work through these changes. These were changes we had to make to reduce costs and increase the productivity of driving instructors for the future.
For those clients who started driving lessons before the COVID 19 restrictions- we thank you for your patience and understanding through this period. It has been a difficult year with many scenarios to work through and we are appreciative of your understanding.
As we move into the 2020/21 year ahead, Williams OT has had to make a very tough decision to cease the provision of specialised driving instructor lessons for select clients.
Please note that this has been an extremely tough decision and something we have not done lightly. However, it is a decision made in the best interests of participants so they can get the best possible outcomes.
Unfortunately, with the new financial year, NDIS continues to cap the price of driving instructor lessons for plan and agency managed clients. As a result, this is made it unviable to continue driving instructor lessons with specialised driving instructors through Williams OT. Williams OT has been advocating for prices to increase to the same level charged for lessons conducted through the RAA. Unfortunately, this has not happened. Therefore, providing a very high-quality driving instructor school for people with disabilities at a larger company level is no longer viable with these capped prices.
Williams OT is going back to its core and concentrating on Occupational therapy services so we can better serve those who need OT services.
What does this mean for you, the driving instructor participant?
Fortunately, for the participant, not a lot will change.
- For Plan and Self-managed clients that have an active lesson program currently in action with Williams OT – We will rollover your case to your current driving instructor, and they will continue lessons. What will change is that the driving instructor will take over the finance side of the lesson rather than Williams OT.
To make sure that you are not overly affected by these changes, we are working with your driving instructor to help set them up to become more knowledgeable NDIS providers. Your driving instructor is putting together service agreements for you to sign in your first session under their business banner. Other than that, we are hopeful this will have little to no effect on the continuation of lessons with your current driving instructor.
- For participants that have signed services agreements with Williams OT for driving lessons, but you are on our waitlist to get into seeing a driving instructor – You will go onto the driving instructor’s waitlist and they will contact you when a spot becomes available. We apologise for delays. Shortage in available driving instructors is a state-wide problem currently. The driving instructor that you were assigned to previously will be aware that you are waiting to get back in and will contact you when there is availability.
- For NDIS Agency managed clients that have active driving instructor lessons with a Williams OT driving instructor – Lessons will continue with Williams OT and your driving instructor for the short term. Please however note that there will be more information to come regarding upcoming changes. For Agency Managed clients, I encourage you to start a discussion with NDIS, as we look to wind down this area of business, and see if you can seek a plan review to roll this over to self or plan managed. Unfortunately, there are little to no registered motor driving instructors registered with the NDIS in SA. Therefore, moving forward with lessons funded under NDIS, you will have more choice of being plan or self-managed.
Williams OT will continue to provide occupational therapy services for assessments and reports, and if you need a review to apply for ongoing funding for specialised driving instructor lessons, Williams OT will be here to service those occupational therapy requirements.
If you are a client that currently requires a modified vehicle with hand controls, spinner knobs, or left foot accelerators, or any other highly specialised product and you use the Williams OT vehicles for this, Williams OT will continue to offer these styles of lessons. If you are utilising your vehicle, you will be rolled over to your current driving instructor as outlined above.
What happens now?
Through the month of August, Williams OT will be consolidating any outstanding invoices and rolling over your service to your driving instructor. You will be notified of the date of this rollover.
Your driving instructor will ask you to complete a new service agreement for the outstanding agreed hours that have been funded by NDIS. There may be a slight delay in this, and we hope that it does not impact on lessons.
So you are aware, your driving instructor will be accredited by Williams OT. This means that they have completed training around disabilities, learning to drive with disabilities, and now understand how to invoice through NDIS. To maintain accreditation with Williams OT, Williams OT will be offering professional development and ongoing training to the driving instructors so they can stay ahead of the game when assisting you to learn how to drive. We will also seek to increase the pool of Williams OT accredited driving instructors.
If for some reason, your driving instructor does not agree to move forward on to this plan, we will let you know as soon as possible. We will also try to move you onto one of our other Williams OT accredited driving instructors.
WE ASK THE SAME FROM YOU: If you wish to terminate lessons with your driving instructor through this change, I ask that you notify us via email immediately.
What if you are not actively doing lessons with Williams OT right now and waiting for specialised driving instructor funding approval?
If you are currently Waiting for NDIS funding approval for specialised driving instruction, we suggest that you contact your support coordinator, LAC or the DNSI direct and ask that funding is not made directly available to Williams OT only. waitlist to get back in to see a Williams OT driving instructor, we are working on plans for you too.
If or when funding does get approved, you can contact Williams OT for a list of accredited specialised motor driving instructors, which includes their qualifications and location details. As it states above, this means that they have completed training around disabilities, learning to drive with disabilities, and now understand how to invoice through NDIS. Furthermore, Williams OT will be offering professional development and ongoing training to the driving instructors so they can stay ahead of the game when assisting you to learn how to drive.
We encourage you to continue to contact your driving instructor or with another accredited driving instructor on this list to find out on updates regarding availability if you have funding approved.
What else can you do?
We understand that this change may impact many of our drivers. We especially understand that clients with Autism do not respond well to change. Therefore, we have tried and will continue to try and make this transition as smooth as possible.
If you feel strongly about the changes and you feel you need to discuss this further, Brad Williams, CEO of Williams OT is happy to reply to emails. Please state the specific issue with a return email address and phone number for a reply.
If you do not have success getting your problem resolved, you can contact the NDIA using the complaint pathway. Ph. 1800 800 110 or Website: www.ndis.gov.au
Furthermore, if you would like to take it even further, may we encourage you to contact your local minister and further discuss the impact on your situation.
Please note, we have not made this decision lightly, and the fact that we have more participants then we can provide services for has made at this decision even more difficult. I am passionate about assisting clients with a disability to drive and experience the independence and freedom that others take for granted. Therefore, we started the driving school. However, due to the squeeze on services, we must make the very unfortunate decision to wind back this area of Williams OT. It breaks my heart. I will continue to offer support and training to driving instructors wherever possible so that participants can continue to gain their driver’s licence.
We apologise for the inconvenience that this change has, however, we are doing our best to reduce the impact on you as a participant, and as a driver, as much as possible. However, as mentioned above, if you would like to cease service services with your current driving instructor please respond in writing.
Please expect ongoing communication through August as we roll through these changes.