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Youth living with disability in aged care need support

The NDIS can help young people explore accommodation options and move out of aged care.

Governments have committed an extra $11 billion annually to the NDIS but unless action is taken many young people living in aged care will miss out on the scheme, writes Luke Bo’sher.

For the more than 6,000 young people with a disability currently living in aged care, the NDIS presents a significant opportunity as it provides funding that will improve their lives and may include assistance for some to consider housing that is more appropriate for their needs.

The kind of support funded by the NDIS includes:

  • therapy to maintain a person’s function or to build their capacity
  • exploring community housing options to enable a move out of the facility, through a support coordination worker and allied health assessments
  • assistance with daily life at home and in the community; assistance with personal care and household tasks if the person is moving out of aged care; and assistance to participate in social activities for those in residential care
  • travel and transport to access activities outside the facility.

Challenges accessing the NDIS

Luke Bo’sher

The Commonwealth and state governments have committed an extra $11 billion in annual funding to support the development of the NDIS, but unless action is taken many young people living in aged care will still miss out on the scheme.

We have demonstrated the proactive approach required to connect young people in aged care to the NDIS through the NDIS Connections project.

Summer Foundation staff visited aged care facilities in NDIS trial sites to find young people and support them through the application and planning process. Project workers connected one in three of all young people living in aged care in the NDIS trial sites.

This project revealed that there are a number of barriers to young people in aged care connecting to the NDIS.

First, there are communication barriers, as young people in aged care often have limited access to computers and internet, or to assistance to make phone calls. This means they cannot call the National Disability Insurance Agency to register or request forms or information.

Second, there is a lack of access to information. Most young people in aged care are not connected to the current disability system, so have little or no experience of disability and community supporters. They are not connected to an organisation that knows how to get them into the NDIS.

Third, the social networks of young people in aged care are often complex or non-existent. There is often little informal support available to them due to family breakdown, or isolation.

Finally, many young people have inadequate or non-existent information about their functional or health needs. This means they have to go through time-consuming and expensive assessments to get the evidence of their disability.

Last year, the NDIA revealed its goal of transitioning over 2,000 young people in aged care to the NDIS by 30 June 2017. So far, only 374 of these people have an NDIS plan. This is a key issue that the Summer Foundation will continue to monitor in 2017.

Fast tracking this process is critical to getting young people out of aged care and into more appropriate housing as soon as possible.

What aged care can do

The aged care system is central to ensuring young people can connect to the NDIS.

The sector is currently undergoing major reform, but with the cooperation of nurse unit managers and diversional therapists we have seen a number of good outcomes for young residents with disability.

Our website carries a digital story that explores how one aged care provider has been working to connect young residents to the NDIS (watch it here).

A proactive approach is essential to ensuring young people in aged care can access the NDIS, and move to more appropriate housing.

Aged care providers can use the Summer Foundation’s free practice guide to connect their younger residents to the NDIS (access it here).

Efforts must be made to proactively connect young people in aged care to the NDIS to enable them to return to the community, and exercise the choice and control that the NDIS promotes.

Aged care providers can help to make these young people’s lives more fulfilling and enriched through the NDIS.

Luke Bo’sher is head of policy and strategy at the Summer Foundation. He worked on the design of the NDIS during his time as a director at the National Disability Insurance Agency and advisor at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

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