Tale of two very different systems

The seniors Newspaper
Wednesday, 27th April, 2016

South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon has thrown his support behind the push for fairer treatment of people with disabilities under the aged care system.

Senator Xenophon cited the case of SA woman Valerie Mudie as an example of the problems with the age cut-off.

Ms Mudie, 70, has been blind since her early 30s and faces having to access support through the aged care system, which she says is not equipped to help people with disabilities to remain independent through supports such as guide dogs.

“(There could be) two blind people on a street corner, both 66 years of age, both with guide dogs”” she wrote in a letter to Senator Xenophon.

“One is accessing full support from the NDIS – that person is not means-tested and all services are free. They do not have to co-contribute towards any costs.” “This person also receives full cover for all the costs associated with the guide dog and vet bills and dog food costs are covered.” “The other person, accessing services through My Aged Care, is already probably paying towards a home care package, is also paying the costs associated with his guide dog, is means-tested and has none of the specific disability supports on offer to help him maintain an independent lifestyle.”

Senator Xenophon said he would make representations to Social Services Minister Christian Porter on the issue.

“It is important people aren’t left worse off by the roll-out of the NDIS,” he said. “That clearly wasn’t intended, and this anomaly needs to be fixed as soon as possible.”

Seniors organisations campaigned strongly on the NDIS age cut-off before the first pilots began in 2013.

Lori Grovenor attempts to navigate her kitchen in her wheelchair, which makes it impossible to open cupboards or move freely.

Lori Grovenor from Port Stephens in NSW started the Not Damn Interested in Seniors Facebook group after her own experience left her unable to access her kitchen or to get help with modification.

Lori, 70, who is blind and uses a wheelchair, said she was promised she would be no worse off under the aged care system. She called My Aged Care last July to have an assessment and arrange modifications so she could use her kitchen, which is inaccessible in her wheelchair.

After six months she had heard nothing, so called again, only to be told there was a 12-month waiting list for modifications.

“I made a complaint but was told there were people worse off than me.” “So we started the Facebook group and then I got a call to say they were coming out to do the assessment.”

The cost of the modifications was estimated at $16,000, of which the government will pay up to $10,000. Lori must contribute the remaining $6000 up-front. No repayment plan is available.

“If I was under 65 I wouldn’t have to pay anything. They would come out and I would be able to choose who I want to do the work.” “What do we do now? Have access to the kitchen or eat?”

The NDIS can fully fund home modifications where “due to the impact of the participant’s disability, the participant or their carers are unable to reasonably access and use frequently used rooms and spaces using standard fixtures and fittings”.

See Lori’s Facebook group at Lori’s Facebook


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