New Continuity of Support Information

New Continuity of Support information has been released by the Commonwealth Department of Health. The Continuity of Support program will support people aged 65 and over, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over who are receiving state and territory funded disability supports and therefore not eligible for the NDIS. These arrangements are designed to ensure you receive support that is consistent with the support you were receiving before the NDIS rolled out in your area.

Continued support will be provided by a new Commonwealth Continuity of Support (CoS) Program administered by the Department of Health. Phasing arrangements begin from December 1, 2016 and continue in stages depending on where you live, with full implementation across the country by June, 2019.

The Department of Health will be releasing a Continuity of Support manual and guidelines shortly. Up until now there has been very little information available on how Continuity of Support will be administered and how it will affect people’s programs as they are transitioned out of their current state and territory support packages.

The new details at least provide some certainty in how CoS will be managed. Current support arrangements will continue with new contracts to be developed with the Department of Health. Significantly, the details also provide certainty for clients living in group homes. They will be able to remain where they are under CoS: “This includes clients who are living in a house where there are also people under the age of 65 who will be receiving support under the NDIS.”

Continuity of Support will cover 8500 clients around the country once it is fully implemented. We will have to wait for the guidelines to be released to find out further details on support arrangements – the devil is always in the detail. The following link on the Department of Health website provides general details on the program: continuity of support programme

For anyone concerned about these arrangements and to ensure your voice is heard in the development of the new support arrangements, it’s important that you contact the federal ministers’ offices below:

Responsibility for the Department of Health and My Aged Care

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Sussan Ley
Suite M1 41, Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600
Phone: (02) 6277 7220
Email: Minister.Ley@health.gov.au

Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt
Parliament House, Suite R1 16, Canberra ACT 2600
Phone: (02) 6277 4707
Email: Minister.Wyatt@health.gov.au

Responsibility for the NDIS

Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Phone: (02) 6277 7560
Email: christian.porter.mp@aph.gov.au

Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, Jane Prentice
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Phone: (02) 6277 4426
Email: jane.prentice.mp@aph.gov.au

The NDIS website includes some general information on continuity of support, which can be accessed here: NDIS disability continuity of support

Bilateral Agreements between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments on the implementation of the NDIS, including details on Continuity of Support can be found on the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) website

Sample letter

*your name*

*street number and street name*

*city, town, postcode*

 

 

*current date*

 

 

 

The Hon. Jane Prentice MP 

Assistant Minister for Disability Services

PO Box 6022

 House of Representatives

CANBERRA ACT 2600

 

 

Dear Minister Prentice,

 

Re: Seeking equality of support for older people with disability

 

As you will be aware, people with disability who are over the age of 65 are ineligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and must instead seek to access services through My Aged Care. The Australian Government has continued to reassure older people with disability that they will receive an equivalent level of support through My Aged Care, but we are fast finding out that this is not the case.

 

Where is the system failing?

 

  1. Lack of information

Federal and state governments continue to inject significant amounts of money into projects that are designed to inform people with disability about the NDIS. But there has been absolutely 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.

  1. Lack of empathy and disability awareness

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 necessarily be said for the staff at My Aged Care, who are used to dealing with older people and not people with permanent and profound disability.

  1. Lack of equality

The current arrangements under My Aged Care, unlike those of the NDIS, require older people with disability to make co-payments towards any services or supports they wish to access. While these co-payments were originally designed to be dependent on an individual’s income and assets, it appears that this policy is not being honoured. Furthermore, services and supports that are required by people with disability can be far more cost-prohibitive than those of the average older person, meaning that their co-payments would also be significantly higher.

 

As a matter of interest, I draw your attention to the following policy directives outlined in the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020; which originally underpinned the introduction of a National Disability Insurance Scheme:

 

“Policy Direction 2: A disability support system which is responsive to the particular needs and circumstances of people with complex and high needs for support.

Policy Direction 3: Universal personal and community support services are available to meet the needs of people with disability, their families and carers.”

 

In order for Australia to be considered to be meeting its international human rights obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, these policy directives must be implemented in a way that meets the needs of all people with disability – not just those who are under the age of 65. It is also worth considering that many older people with disability, if provided with an adequate level of support, would continue to make a valuable contribution to their local communities. Failing to address these problems will therefore result in a loss to the economy, as well as a loss to the individual.

 

In closing, I urge you not to disregard this matter, but to give it the attention that it truly deserves and ensure that it is investigated at the next meeting of the Disability Reform Council.

 

Yours Sincerely

 

 

 

*your name*

Briefing Paper

NDIS (Not Damn Interested in Seniors) = My Aged Scare!

Advocating for equality for over 65s

 The background:

In 2013, the 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.

The problems:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 . 

The solutions:

  1. Help us raise awareness

The NDIS is constantly being discussed in the media and in the community, but there has been no focus on those people who are ineligible for the scheme and are fast falling through the cracks. Help us shine a light on the injustices of the current support system and build a solid foundation for future change.

  1. Help us access information

Knowledge is power. Older people with disability need to have sufficient information available to enable them to exercise their rights. Help us lobby the government to ensure that accurate and timely information is provided to people with disability who are over the age of 65 so they can better navigate the current support system. 

  1. Help us achieve equality

Help us lobby for the introduction of measures that would

promote greater equality for older people with disability in accordance with the following recommendations:

  • All individuals who were born with, or who acquired a disability prior to the age of 65 should be grandfathered into the NDIS.
  • An independent appeals process should be established to allow for discretionary decisions to be made in allowing people who have acquired a disability after the age of 65 entry into the NDIS (where it can be demonstrated that their support needs are not being met through the aged care system).
  • The rules for co-payment under My Aged Care should be reviewed, with an exemption being applied to specialist services and supports that are uniquely required by people with permanent and profound disability.
  • Additional resources should be allocated to building the capacity of staff working across the aged care sector to enable them to better respond to the specialist needs of people with disability. 

The obligations:

The Australian Government is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and is therefore bound by the obligations that it establishes. The steps to be taken to implement the Convention at a national level have been articulated in the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020, which has been endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments. It was this strategy that first underpinned the introduction of a National scheme of lifetime care and support for people with disability and the Strategy sets out to achieve the following two outcomes in this regard:

  1. “A disability support system which is responsive to the particular needs and circumstances of people with complex and high needs for support.”
  2. “Personal and community support services are available to meet the needs of people with disability, their families and carers.”

In order for Australia to be considered to be meeting its international human rights obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, there must be equality of support for all people with disability, regardless of factors associated with age.