Home And Living – 2021 The Year Of Change

With the closing of one year and opening of the next, it is timely to review what the last twelve months has brought from an agency and funding lens and where the next twelve months is likely to take us.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has now been in operation for nine years, with the NDIS pilot being rolled out in selected areas of TAS, SA, VIC, and NSW in 2013. The NDIS has been described as the biggest social reform since Medicare. At the commencement of the Scheme there was much talk about the 10 year period it took for Medicare to come into maturity and benefit the Australian Community. Nine years on from the initial roll and things in the NDIS landscape are now starting to change.

Home and Living for people with disabilities has come a long way from pre-1980’s where we saw people with disabilities in institutions.

 

With changes to legislation and signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, Australia has progressed in:

  • deinstitutionalisation
  • group living opportunities
  • Supported Independent Living (SIL) and
  • individualised funding options

Rightly so, there has been an increased drive for inclusion in mainstream society and while the roll out of the NDIS has played an integral role in getting Home and Living to where it is today, this has come with speculation that the Scheme is financially unsustainable. We have consequently seen small nods to this by the Agency pre-2021 with the benchmarking of SIL hourly costs, as per the NDIS price guide in 2019.

The year of 2021 has seen the most strategic moves from the Agency yet. New Operational Guidelines in both Supported Independent Living (SIL) and Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) have been published. It is important to consider the timing of these roll outs, especially in relation to other pre-published Operational Guidelines and Practice Guides to fully understand the direction of the Agency and what this means for both individuals and providers.

There is a new flavour and machine gun fire to the release of the Operational Guidelines, specifically in the areas of:

  • Independent Living Options (Apr 2021)
  • Mainstream and Community Supports (Aug 2021), and;
  • The Improving Support Coordination for NDIS Participants (Nov 2021)

My review of recent data around SIL approvals and the trend of approvals decreasing in line with plan decreases supports my thinking that there is a very deliberate move from the Agency with the collective roll out of ALL the Home and Living Operational Guidelines. Combined analysis of these documents has led to an understanding that the Agency is very much moving towards the actual implementation of a shared response to disability support (whether this is currently resourced well or not or if the Commission is on board remains to be seen). All Operational Guidelines provide a ‘muddy clarity’ on the eligibility of different Home and Living options. The Guidelines point out the need to either robustly argue eligibility or consider a shared response to disability care by including mainstream and community supports. We are now strongly moving away from the ‘one size fits all’ approach to accommodation supports i.e., SIL is not the only option.

It is clear that the Agency will utilise the Home and Living Operational Guidelines as a collective to inform funding decisions and this means that it is no longer enough for providers to simply quote for Home and Living services based on their existing models. Providers need to understand different accommodation responses within their portfolios and be able to quickly adapt to the individuals they provide service to. Preparation is the key.

The NDIA have spent the last 12 months spelling out the different options for people with disabilities in the Home and Living space and now it is over the providers to make this work. With NDIA able to review plans at their will, as per the SIL Operational Guidelines, adaptation and imagination in this space is everything! Providers should look to invest their time in understanding:

  • Revenue, including financials, source, process, and limitations
  • Views of key staff members internally (front line leadership, service planning, front line)
  • Co-design option directed by current participants and their support networks
  • The current model positions within the sector

At Supporting Potential, we are excited about the different accommodation options that are available to people with disabilities. We specialise in understanding how to prepare both individuals and organisations for their game of chess with the Agency. Our expert knowledge in the Home and Living arena means that we can provide the exploration and preparation support needed to achieve positive and sustainable accommodation outcomes in the new Home and Living environment.

It is vital to understand that innovation and creative modelling and practice will support continuity of services in a hostile funding environment. Organisations need to be across the funding landscape and remain ahead of the sector in the design and implementation of processes in the areas of:

  • service planning
  • model options
  • capacity building
  • choice and control
  • separation of key services.

Please contact us to discuss your individual home and living needs.