An Australia where older people with disability (who are ineligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme) have timely access to high quality services that enable them to live independently and be included in the community, consistent with the level of support that is available to younger people with disability under the NDIS.
In 2013, the Australian Federal Government commenced rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – a lifetime scheme of care and support for people with disability.
But people who acquire a disability after the age of 65, or are over 65 when the scheme rolls out in their area are not eligible for the NDIS. These people are instead expected to access the support they need through the aged care system, through a gateway called My Aged Care.
This arrangement is just not working for people with disabilities over the age of 65! A group of supporters decided to start the “My Aged Scare” campaign to lobby government, service providing organisations and disability advocacy groups, to highlight the difficulties faced by people with Disabilities using My Aged Care.
- Lack of information – Many people with disability have had no interaction with the aged care system and are largely unaware of how it operates. Federal and state governments continue to inject significant amounts of money into projects that are designed to inform people with disability about their rights under the NDIS ,but there has been no information provided to people with disability who are over the age of 65 to inform them about My Aged Care as it relates to the specialist support needs of people with disability. As a result, many people are falling through the cracks.
- Hefty co-payments – Under My Aged Care, older people with disability are asked to make co-payments towards any services or supports they require. This requirement is unique to My Aged Care and does not apply to people accessing supports under the NDIS. Although co-payments were originally intended to be dependent on an individual’s income and assets, it appears that this policy is not being honoured. The services and supports that are required by people with disability can also be far more cost-prohibitive than those of the average older person, making their cost of living significantly higher.
- Lack of understanding of the specialist needs of people with disability – The aged care system was set up to accommodate the needs of people experiencing deteriorating health due to aging– not people with permanent and profound disability. As disability is the core business of the NDIS, staff at the National Disability Insurance Agency typically have a high level of empathy and disability awareness. The same cannot be said for the staff at My Aged Care who are largely unfamiliar with the broad spectrum of needs with which people with disability may present .
How can these problems be fixed?
These are the recommendations we are putting to the federal government to address the issues that currently exist for older people with disability:
- The eligibility criteria outlined in the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) Act 2013 must be amended to retrospectively allow any person who was born with, or acquired disability before the age of 65 (and whose disability is not attributable to the natural process of Aging) entry into the National Disability Insurance Scheme, irrespective of age. The following measures must also be put in place to ensure older people with disability have equitable access to support through the aged care system:
- There must be an uncapped number of Home Care Packages available under My Aged Care to ensure people with permanent and severe disability can access support in a timely manner, on an equal basis with participants of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
- Maximum timeframes must be put in place to determine how long it will take for a Home Care Package to be allocated from the date of application. Individuals waiting for a package must be able to access information about where they sit on the waiting list and how long they will be expected to wait before their package is received.
- People with disability accessing support under My Aged Care must be able to request a specialist disability assessment through the National Disability Insurance Agency in instances where their disability-related support needs are not being adequately addressed through the aged care assessment process.
- The rules for co-payment under My Aged Care must be reviewed, with an exemption being applied to specialist services and supports that are uniquely required by people with permanent and severe disability.
- In accordance with the ILC (Information, Linkages and Capacity Building) Policy Framework, the National Disability Insurance Agency must reserve a pool of funds for the purpose of providing one-off or low-cost supports for people who are ineligible for the NDIS who would benefit from such interventions, and whose support needs would otherwise remain unaddressed.
- The Home Modifications Scheme must be altered to provide greater transparency and accountability, and to provide the home owner with greater choice and control over how modifications are sought.
- All individuals working within the Aged Care Contact Centre, the Regional Assessment Service and Comprehensive Assessment Teams (previously known as Aged Care Assessment Teams) must be required to complete mandatory disability awareness training that aligns with a human rights based approach to people with disability. This training must be developed in close consultation with people with disability through their representative organisations.
- The Department of health must commit to the future roll out of information sessions targeted at older people with disability who fall outside the NDIS. These sessions must educate older people with disability about the process for seeking specialist disability support through the aged care system, and ensure older people with disability adequately understand their rights in relation to aged care services.
- The Government must commit to an independent audit of Local Area Coordination (LAC) Services to ensure LAC agencies are properly equipped to perform their full range of functions. This includes providing support to people with disability who are over the age of 65 who are ineligible to receive an individually funded package of supports under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Did you know that:
- People who are over the age of 65 contribute billions of dollars to the national economy each year through unpaid caring and voluntary roles. The same is also true for people with disability. Limiting the participation of over 65s with disability would therefore have a detrimental impact on the Australian economy as a whole.
- There is a strong correlation between social isolation/participation restriction and a range of mental health problems. Given we are an aging population, failing to provide older people with disability with the support they need to participate in the community as active citizens will have significant ramifications for the health system in years to come.
- 45% of people with disability live near or below the poverty line, and around one in three older people live in poverty; meaning the likelihood of an older person with disability living in poverty will be higher yet again. This situation will only be made worse with the lack of funding for services and supports and the current requirements for people to make co-payments under the aged care system.
To find out more about our campaign, please continue to visit this site as we develop useful resources to assist with lobbying to improve the current situation. You could also join our Facebook page go to: NDIS (not Damn Interested In Seniors) = My Aged Scare on Facebook
If you would like more information on the government’s My Aged Care gateway phone 1800 200 422 or visit the gateway website