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Intake Assessment: A Trauma-Informed Approach to Client Onboarding

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Have you lost a potential client due to stumbling during the intake process? You're not alone! Welcome to Whole Warrior Network, where our mission is to empower NDIS providers with professional strategies to onboard more clients today, using a trauma-informed approach. We're here to guide you through a three-step process towards a professional, effective, and compassionate client journey from initial enquiry to service agreement.

### 1. **Enquiry**

The first point of contact is crucial. It sets the tone for the relationship and offers an opportunity to establish trust. Here's how to make the most of it:

- **Active Listening:** Ensure you have a trained person answering your phone or inboxes at the point of enquiry. If in person use eye contact and cultural competency for the situation. Encourage potential clients to share their story and needs. This not only helps in understanding their situation but also demonstrates empathy and respect. You'll also be able to qualify if the enquiry is a cold, medium or hot lead and decide which resource to allocate.
- **Responsive Communication:** Ensure your responses are thoughtful and informative. Providing clear, concise information about your services can help potential clients feel more at ease and informed. Request the business and offer the most appropriate intake session eg virtual, phone, office or home visit. Check their preference and accessibility needs.
- **Trauma-Informed Approach:** Be aware that clients may have had challenging experiences. Approach each conversation with sensitivity and without judgment. Offer an appointment for a confidential no obligation intake assessment session to see if it is a good match for the client and for your business goals or case load.

### 2. **Intake / Assessment**

After you have built rapport, pause the conversation. Request if it is ok to ask some specific questions in order to complete the intake assessment. This step is about gathering detailed information while continuing to build a supportive relationship.

- **Comprehensive Intake Form:** Use an intake form that asks the right questions in a way that is respectful and considerate of the client's experiences. Use a live form in a Client Records Management system, (such as Astalty, ShiftCare, Brevity, Splose, Hub Spot or Lumary) to reduce keystrokes and speed up pre-population of consent forms.
- **Privacy and Comfort:** Ensure that the intake process is conducted in a manner that respects the client's privacy and makes them feel comfortable and safe. A collaborative approach to this session is best practice, should the client consent to have arranged in advance to have their support coordinator, guardian, parent or key worker present.
- **Clarify the Process:** Explain the next steps clearly, including how the information will be used to tailor services to their needs. You may have a flow chart to refer to for internal prompting or your CRM should prompt you towards next steps towards closing the deal if it's a good match for both parties.

### 3. **Service Agreement**

Finalising the service agreement is a critical step that formalises the relationship and sets clear expectations. This may be done the same day or in stage 2 of the intake process if the client needs time to consider their options.

- **Transparent Communication:** Clearly outline what services will be provided, the goals, and any terms and conditions. Transparency is key to maintaining trust. Specify your cancellation policy.
- **Flexibility and Customisation:** Show willingness to adapt services as needed. A trauma-informed approach recognises that individual needs may change over time. Outline your cancellation policy clearly and schedule of fees allowing a clause for pricing increases.
- **Empowerment:** Empower your clients by involving them in the decision-making process with their guardian and support coordinator. This fosters a sense of control and partnership. You may also have a consent and information exchange form to clarify if the client wishes to work collaboratively with all or some of their NDIS support services and family. Seek consent to forward the signed service agreement to the plan manager with the first invoice.

Congratulations! Now you can set the client up in your accounting system if you don't have a CRM or Zapier Zap setup to automatically do it for you. By following these steps, NDIS providers can effectively and professionally onboard more clients, ensuring a process that is not only efficient but also deeply respectful and understanding of each client's unique journey.

At Whole Warrior Network, we're dedicated to supporting you in enhancing your service delivery through trauma-informed practices. Let's work together to make a positive impact on the lives of those you serve.

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Learn more at www.wholewarriornetwork.com.au or email [email protected] today!


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