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‘Critical Gap’ for Young People With Disability In Nursing Homes Under NDIS

12 June 2018 at 8:00 am
Luke Michael
A lack of clarity around who qualifies for the National Disability Insurance Scheme is causing young people in nursing homes to fall through a “critical gap” between the health and disability sectors, according to a new report card.

Luke Michael | 12 June 2018 at 8:00 am


‘Critical Gap’ for Young People With Disability In Nursing Homes Under NDIS
12 June 2018 at 8:00 am

A lack of clarity around who qualifies for the National Disability Insurance Scheme is causing young people in nursing homes to fall through a “critical gap” between the health and disability sectors, according to a new report card.

The Summer Foundation released its latest NDIS report card on Tuesday, examining the scheme’s progress across a number of important outcomes for young people in residential aged care (YPIRAC).

The report card produced mixed results.

Positively, the report noted a small (5 per cent) reduction in the number of younger people entering aged care.

But of concern were figures showing a significant amount of YPIRAC being rejected for the NDIS, with more than one in 20 younger people in nursing homes having their NDIS applications rejected.

The Summer Foundation information and connections coordinator Penny Paul, told Pro Bono News that this highlighted a “critical gap” for YPIRAC.

“While some of these decisions are explained by citizenship or age factors, the vast majority of these people were refused entry to the NDIS for health reasons,” she said.

“It’s important that the NDIS provides more transparency around these decisions as they point to a critical gap between the health and disability sectors that one in 20 young people in nursing homes are falling through.

“But that gap can’t be closed unless we know what it looks like.”

Paul said greater understanding of these decisions was the first step.

“We need to understand why this significant proportion of young people in nursing homes were found ineligible for the NDIS,” she said.

“Was it because the person completing the Access Request Form didn’t make clear the functional limitations of the young person in aged care?”

The National Disability Insurance Agency has so far failed to meet its bilateral targets to bring YPIRAC into the NDIS.

There are approximately 6,200 people under the age of 65 living in residential aged care in Australia.

The NDIA had earlier advised Senate Estimates that: “2,058 young people in residential aged care are scheduled to commence transition by 30 June 2017… [while] around 72 per cent (4,488 people) of this group are to have commenced transition by mid-2018.”

Despite these ambitions, as of 31 March 2018, only 2,082 YPIRAC were active NDIS participants.

The report card does note that things seem to be heading in the right direction, with an additional 1,109 YPIRAC entering the NDIS in a six month period between September 2017 and April 2018.

This was largely due to a concerted effort from the NDIA through their “facilitated access process”.

“The number of YPIRAC entering in that six-month period is more than the total number of all YPIRAC who entered the NDIS between the 2013 and 2017 financial years,” the report card said.

“However, as at 31 December 2017, 118 young people living in nursing homes were determined to be ineligible for the NDIS – representing more than one in 20 (5.3 per cent) of those who had been assessed.”

The report card also looked at the NDIS’s level of success in supporting the supply of specialist disability accommodation (SDA), which offers a vital pathway for young people out of aged care.

It found that across Australia there were 996 SDA places under construction, while the latest available data from October 2017 showed 6,400 NDIS participants had SDA funding in their plans.

However of these participants, only 22 were YPIRAC.

Detailed in the report card was the story of Annie (not her real name), a 32-year-old social worker with cerebral palsy and complex care needs.

Annie has lived in various group homes and spoke of her troubles with the social aspects of such an arrangement.

“It’s not a homely environment, it’s a workplace and guests are regarded as an interruption to the routine. It’s quite a confining environment, once you’re in it’s very hard to get out. There was no choice and control. I couldn’t control who came into my room,” Annie said.

Earlier this year Annie transitioned to the NDIS, allowing her to move to an interim housing situation.

But while she has the conditional offer of a long-term housing solution though a new SDA apartment, Annie has been unable to include the property in her NDIS plan, as the apartment is still under construction.

Annie said she desperately wanted certainty around her housing arrangements.

“It’s a chicken and egg situation,” she said.  

Summer Foundation CEO Luke Bo’sher, told Pro Bono News that the gap for YPIRAC needed to be closed.

“Over 100 younger people living in aged care are not eligible for the NDIS. The aged care system shouldn’t be used to plug the gaps between the health and disability sectors. That gap needs to be closed,” Bo’sher said.

“We need to do more to understand the exact needs of this group and why they aren’t eligible for the NDIS.”

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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