Indirect time: a guide for clients
At Umbo we always try to be honest and transparent with our clients and we intend for clients to never receive invoices that are a surprise. Indirect time for NDIS participants is probably the key area of invoicing that creates confusion, uncertainty and sometimes, suspicion for clients. We want to be very clear about how and when we charge for indirect time to make sure our clients are clear and informed.
How are clinicians engaged with Umbo?
Umbo therapists are independent contractors. They are not salaried staff. Therefore they are only paid for the time that they spend working with or for clients. Everyone would agree that clinicians should be paid for the time that they work and to ensure fair treatment of our clients (and compliance with NDIS) we do not charge a standard indirect rate; clients are charged for the actual time spent.
What is indirect time at Umbo?
As per the definition in the Practical Guidance to Operating in the NDIS document:
Non-face-to-face supports are activities which might occur before or after the delivery of a funded support. This might include time spent coordinating and organising an activity or writing a progress or incident report. This does not include back of house administrative costs, such as, intake, rostering or submitting claims, and does not apply to groups.
At Umbo, we take this guideline seriously and do not charge clients for the time we spend on general administrative tasks such as processing your referral, getting initial paperwork completed or booking appointments.
What we do charge for is the clinician’s time spent working with or for their clients. Some examples of indirect time that we would charge to a client include:
- Preparation of the session: this might include specific research, developing some resources and developing a session plan
- Case notes: these are the notes that therapists must write at the end of the session that outlines if and how the client achieved the goals of the session, any other observations and a plan for the following session. This is a legal requirement but also ensures that the therapist knows exactly where they are upto with each client to ensure they are providing an efficient and effective service (remembering that each therapist sees between 10 and 30 clients)
- Meetings/phone calls: this might include a therapist having a meeting with the client’s teacher to gather more information or discuss strategies. Typically your therapist will let you know if they would like to talk to someone about you/the client before they do so.
- Goal setting: this is an important part of providing therapy and it is essential that our client is part of the conversation
- Writing reports/letters etc
The NDIS requires direct and indirect time to be charged separately, so you will receive separate invoices. Your invoices for indirect time will indicate what the time was spent doing. In addition, when you claim from the NDIS you need to claim direct and indirect time under different codes, and so having two different invoices makes this easier for plan managers.
What we cannot do
It is important that clinicians are paid for the time that they work for their clients. Therapists are not in a position where they can negotiate the indirect time spent on a client and it is actually against the NDIS Price Guide to “charge all participants an average additional fee (for indirect time)”. The therapist may have a typical indirect charge for a client but they are still required to charge for the time they spend working for the client. Sometimes this may be 15 minutes, sometimes 30 minutes.
What we will do
Explain: The terms of indirect charges are outlined in the client contract/service agreement that the client signs with Umbo.
Consult: Therapists are instructed to always consult with a client if there is going to be an indirect charge that is out of the ordinary and check that they have the permission of the client. For example, the therapist might want to have a case conference with the other professionals working with the client.
Outline: Therapists are required to write into the client invoices how they spent the indirect time so that clients are very clear on what was completed during that time.
If you still have questions about indirect time, please get in touch and our friendly team can attend to your concerns.