Original communication re the Non-Medical Help Services Reference Manual from SLC/SFE

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The Student Loans Company (SLC) and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) are introducing a standardised framework of activity descriptors and cost bands for Non-Medical Helper (NMH) services funded through the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) for English students.

The new descriptors will apply to all needs assessments or changes to DSA support undertaken on or after 31 March 2014. SLC will look to introduce the cost bands for academic year 2015/16.

Following the operational guidance below is some further information on:

>What will change

>When the change takes effect

>Actions needed

>Benefits the change will bring

>Regional seminars

Operational Guidance

The introduction of the ‘Non-Medical Help Services Reference Manual’ for England and the requirement to adopt the activity descriptors and cost bands will involve considerable change for all DSA partners. For this reason the implementation of the manual will be split in to two phases.

Phase one will require adoption and use of the new activity descriptors and phase two will implement and require compliance with the cost bands.

Phasing of implementation in this way will allow NMH partners time to adjust to new definitions prior to the introduction of the cost ranges.

Phase 1: During Academic Year (AY) 14/15, Needs Assessors, HEIs and NMH providers will be asked to use the set of activity descriptors to cover the actual activities carried out by non-medical helpers when assessing the students need for NMH. In addition NMH providers will be asked to use descriptors in line with the Needs Assessment Report (NAR) when invoicing for NMH services.

January 2014 – ‘Non-Medical Help Services Reference Manual’ for England will be published on the SLC website and DSA partners will be asked to use the new activity titles.

Any NAR or change to DSA support dated on or after 31 March 2014, which does not use the specified activity titlesand any invoice that does not match the support detailed in the NAR will not be processed by SFE DSA team, and a rejection communication will be issued, asking for a fresh NAR/invoice to be submitted.

In addition, SFE DSA team will issue reminder letters to Needs Assessment Centres (NACs) or NMH providers who submit invoices with costs outside the expected range, emphasising that these costs will not be met in full from AY 15/16 onwards, although invoices will still be paid for services supplied throughout AY 14/15 as normal.

Phase 2: During AY 15/16 NACs and NMH providers will be asked to use a set of standard cost ranges when supplying the expected costs for NMH in their NARs. We will provide further details of Phase 2 of the introduction of the Non-Medical Helper Services Reference Manual for England in Summer 2014.

Further Information:

What will change?

The framework consists of 19 activity descriptors. These descriptors cover all activities provided by Non-Medical Helpers allowable within the DSA regulations and they fit in to one of four cost bands. These are explained in the new ‘Non-Medical Help Services Reference Manual’. This manual together with further details of the background research can be found at:

www.practitioners.slc.co.uk/products/disabled-students'-allowances/dsas-forms-and-guides.aspx

Q. When will the change take effect?

A. The new activity titles should be used in all communications with the Student Finance England Service regarding needs assessments or changes to DSA support conducted on or after 31 March 2014.

Q. What do I need to do?

A. Needs Assessment Centres - will need to use the new activity descriptors in all needs assessment reports and requests for changes to support made on or after 31 March 2014.

A. HEI Disability Advisers - will need to use the new activity descriptors in all requests for changes to support made on or after 31 March 2014.

A. NMH providers - will need to ensure invoices for support provided match the activity descriptors used within the needs assessment report. This may involve mapping titles and descriptors currently used to the new activity titles.

Q. What benefits will this change bring?

A. The standardised frame work will bring benefits to students and stakeholders.

The framework will: >Provide HEI Disability Advisers, Needs Assessors and external providers of support services with clear information on the types of non-medical service and activities that may be funded under DSAs.

>Provide clarity on the type of support non-medical helpers are expected to provide within the recommended activities.

>Ensure all disabled students are aware of the range of support available through DSAs.

>Provide SLC with a transparent framework to compare services, helping to ensure value for money.

>Facilitate future ambitions to move to a more streamlined digital NMH/DSA service.

Regional Seminars

It is proposed to hold two regional seminars in March 2014 to disseminate information about the introduction of the ‘Non-Medical Help Services Reference Manual’ for England and to discuss implementation aspects with HEI Disability Advisors, Needs Assessment Centres and NMH providers. Following the seminars SLC will publish the seminar presentations and a question and answer document on the DSA section of the SLC practitioners website.

If you have any further questions regarding these arrangements please email newnmhprocess@slc.co.uk