Disability Services Fighting to Stay Afloat
21 February 2019 at 8:32 am
Disability providers are struggling to meet the needs of their clients under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, according to a new report that warns the sustainability of the sector is at risk.
The Centre for Social Impact’s (CSI) latest report examined National Disability Services’ Annual Market Survey and found the disability sector continued to be characterised by disruption due to the NDIS rollout.
It said the financial position of many providers was becoming more precarious, noting that compared to previous years more providers were operating at a loss – 28 per cent compared to 21 per cent in 2016.
CSI research director, Associate Professor Gemma Carey, told Pro Bono News more market gaps would develop if providers dropped out of the scheme because they could not run a sustainable business.
“The qualitative results suggest that providers are struggling with high administrative loads which are not covered by NDIS prices,” Carey said.
“If organisations close due to financial instability, we are likely to see more market gaps emerge.”
Almost 70 per cent of organisations also admitted they had received requests for services they were not able to provide.
Researchers said they were not yet sure if this was due to growing service gaps or a lack of provider knowledge caused by the fragmented disability market.
The report also warned there was alarmingly low levels of collaboration within the sector.
Carey encouraged greater collaboration between providers, with the report noting the NDIS was premised on a “robust ecosystem of service providers and collaborative service offerings”.
“While we don’t have data from previous years, we feel this low level of collaboration must be a recent feature of the sector given the amount of collaboration that went into the Every Australian Counts campaign and getting the NDIS in place,” she said.
“Without collaboration, services become more disconnected from each other and more difficult to coordinate care.”
To address some of these issues, Carey recommended that more local discretion was allowed in price setting to help providers stay afloat. She said her biggest concerns for the scheme currently were around equity.
The report echoed this recommendation, while also calling on the NDIS to release accurate supply and demand data to providers.
NDS CEO Chris Tanti told Pro Bono News recently that disability service providers were experiencing a lack of data – especially by location – and that this was seriously hampering evidence-based planning and the ability of both existing and new organisations to meet market needs.