NDIS funding deal to help people with disability avoid lengthy hospital stays
4 July 2019 at 4:44 pm
Young people in nursing homes and others stuck in hospitals and aged care facilities will be among those to benefit from a new agreement that gives National Disability Insurance Scheme participants funding for a range of health services.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) last week agreed that the NDIS will fund ongoing, daily health services needed as a result of the person’s disability.
Disability groups say the move is the first step towards addressing a gap opening up between the health and disability systems that leave many people with disability without support.
Participants with conditions such as dysphagia, diabetes, respiratory problems, and epilepsy will be entitled to funding from 1 October.
Examples of new NDIS-funded services include swallowing therapy from an allied health professional, cleaning of catheters, tracheostomy changes and wound dressings.
A spokesperson for NDIS Minister Stuart Robert told Pro Bono News the federal government had been in ongoing discussions over the last 12 to 18 months to clarify the respective responsibilities of the NDIS and health systems.
Summer Foundation CEO Luke Bo’sher said the change would make a significant difference to the lives of NDIS participants with complex health and disability support needs.
He said when these supports were not being funded by the NDIS or health systems, people with disability were stuck in hospital and aged care facilities as the only place to access services.
“The decision to fund disability-related health supports under the NDIS will go a long way towards addressing major gaps that people with high and complex disabilities are experiencing when trying to access essential supports,” Bo’sher said.
“We know that 50 young people with disabilities are admitted into aged care every week.
“These improvements to the NDIS will help people with disabilities to avoid being forced into aged care facilities because their disability-related health needs will finally be addressed by the NDIS.”
This decision follows a recent Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruling that said the National Disability Insurance Agency was wrong to deny vital swallowing support funding to a 34-year-old man who has dysphagia as a result of cerebral palsy.
AAT deputy president Brian Rayment indicated any support the NDIA refuses to fund needs to be made available by another government service provider.
Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) CEO Justine O’Neill said COAG’s decision reinforced the AAT’s view that the NDIA had taken too narrow a view of its responsibilities around health-related therapies.
“Simply put, these health-related therapies and supports are critical, and leaving people with disability without them puts lives at risk,” O’Neill said.
She said the announcement was a positive development for the many NDIS participants who needed ongoing therapies to maintain their quality of life and independence.
COAG has also agreed to a Hospital Discharge Delay Action Plan to fix issues leaving NDIS participants stuck in public hospitals for months on end or taken to aged care facilities.
The government estimates 60,000 people with disability will benefit from these new supports, which will be funded from within the scheme’s $22 billion annual budget.
Matthew Bowden, co-CEO of People with Disability Australia, told Pro Bono News he remained concerned NDIS participants were missing out on vital health services.
“The NDIA, and states and territories, have a joint responsibility and need to work cooperatively to solve this… [but] we’re pleased to see this first move from Minister Robert towards addressing this growing issue,” Bowden said.
A list of new NDIS-funded health services can be seen here.