The federal government is investing in special disability accommodation and has pledged to get all young people out of the residential aged care system within four years.
Families and social services minister Paul Fletcher outlined the government’s National Action Plan for Younger People in Residential Aged Care initiative at a national specialist disability accommodation conference in Melbourne last Friday.
The plan comes in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which is examining young people in residential care as one of its terms of reference.
“To those with disability aged 45 and under who are living in residential aged care today and wish to get out – I say that we will commit to get that done by the end of 2022,” Mr Fletcher said in his keynote address to delegates.
“Our commitment is that if you wish to leave, you will have alternative, age-appropriate housing and supports by 2022 at the latest.”
Mr Fletcher said the government has also committed to getting all those aged between 46 and 65 out of aged care by 2025, and has set a target of halving the number of under-65s entering aged care facilities within the same time frame.
“During the 2017-18 financial year, around 50 younger people a week were admitted to aged care,” Mr Fletcher said.
“It is unacceptable that nearly 6,000 younger people – almost 200 under the age of 45 – live in residential age care facilities when many of them should not need to, ‘ he said.
“As we all recognise, the aged care system is designed to support the needs of older people. It is not designed or necessarily well-equipped to meet all of the needs a younger person with disability may have.”
Special disability accommodation
Mr Fletcher said a key to getting young people out of residential aged care was establishing special disability accommodation, a service which is being delivered with NDIS funds.
By the time the national disability insurance scheme is fully rolled out the government will have invested nearly $700 million a year in SDA payments for almost 28,000 participants, the minister said.
There are currently 10,975 NDIS participants with SDA funding in their NDIS plans and the number of registered SDA providers has nearly doubled from 450 to 802 in the last year, Mr Fletcher said. There are 2,593 enrolled SDA dwellings.
A report from Social Ventures Australia and the Summer Foundation found more than 1, 500 SDA places are in development around the country, mainly in NSW, Victoria and SA. However it noted that 80 per cent of these are in pre-construction or construction stage, and the SDA market is still in its infancy.
Much still needs to be done to create a market that can deliver the 12,000 new places that will be needed to meet anticipated demand from NDIS participants, the report warns.
A recent Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute found SDA has attracted substantial interest among the property sector, large financial institutions community housing and disability service providers.
Last Friday the government announced the creation of an SDA Reference Group to guide the development of the SDA market.
The government also has announced $45 million to boost the capacity and capability of the disability care sector to meet the needs of NDIS participants.