Changing Sector Means NFPs Need to Adapt
13 November 2014 at 10:00 am
Not for Profits will need to adapt to the changing funding environment and the new world of consumer-directed care in order to flourish and survive, writes Senator Mitch Fifield, the Federal Assistant Minister for Social Services.
Significant changes to the way Governments fund social services – particularly in disability and aged care – will usher in a new era for Not for Profits who work in these sectors.
Not for Profits will have to adapt to the changing environments heralded by, on the one hand the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and on the other, by the advent of consumer-directed care in aged care.
I am optimistic that Australian Not for Profits can not only adapt to these changes, but succeed, thrive and flourish in this new world.
Adapting to new business models and new ways of doing things won’t always be easy. The Government is determined to be a constructive partner with the sector as we travel towards greater individual choice in both disability and aged care.
The NDIS and consumer-directed care are all about putting the individual at the centre and in control of their entitlement.
Governments have finally wised up to the fact that individuals are best placed to know what supports and care they need to help them achieve their goals and aspirations and to live their life in a manner of their choosing.
The NDIS will allow people with disability to make their own choice about what services they wish to use, as well as which organisation will provide the service.
After decades of block funding that went straight from Government to service provider, bypassing the client entirely, consumer preferences will finally be given a voice when it comes to the disability supports and services that are funded by government.
The consumer is finally not only in the picture, but firmly at the wheel.
Consumer-directed care (CDC) will herald a similarly seismic shift in aged care. From July next year, all home care packages will be delivered as CDC, and changes that came into effect on 1 July this year are also designed to start to achieve more consumer choice and control in residential aged care.
I don’t underestimate the challenge presented by this shift to Not for Profit service providers. It will require new business models and new ways of thinking about the relationship between client and provider.
The Government is committed to being a constructive partner with the sector as we tread this road to change.
In aged care, the government has funded the Transitional Business Advisory Service as well as funding for two capacity building projects – one to support consumers and one to support providers – specifically focussing on consumer directed care.
And in disability, we have contracted National Disability Services (NDS) to kick-start the development of a National Disability Insurance Scheme Workforce Strategy with a report into workforce issues.
The rollout of the NDIS will create significant employment demand and opportunities in the disability sector, and the Strategy will be critical to the Government’s agenda to work with the disability sector to optimize workforce and service provision.
So while we must be mindful of the challenges, we must also not discount the many exciting opportunities presented by the shift to individualised funding.
Chief among them is that it allows service providers to engage directly with their clients, putting their needs and aspirations at the very core of their business, without the additional layer of government payment to consider.
This will help Not for Profits further align their business model with their mission statement and vision.
There are also opportunities for new entrants into the market, from traditional Not for Profits and for-profit providers, to potentially new hybrid models such as social enterprises.
The NDIS and consumer-directed care are unequivocally positive reforms. But they do mean a new way of thinking, not just for providers – but importantly for those very people whose lives we are setting out to improve – people with disability and older Australians.
Consumer-centred funding is the way of the future. There’s more to do to ensure that individuals are truly at the centre and in control of their entitlement, particularly in aged care.
Public dollars should follow needs. Care should follow choice.
The Government is committed to being a constructive partner with Not for Profits as we work to build a thriving, dynamic and responsive sector, working to find the best ways to provide care and support to people with disability and older Australians.
About the author: Senator Mitch Fifield is the Assistant Minister for Social Services with responsibility for disability and ageing. He is also Manager of Government Business in the Senate.