Aged care – The NDIS debate continues for sector advocates

Mr River Night is one of the founding directors of Developing Australian Communities, an industry advocate with nearly three decades of experience as a professional, disabled person, carer and family member. This week he had the chance to discuss the Aged Care – NDIS debate on ABC Sunshine Coast. “Aged care and people over the age of 65 are currently excluded from the NDIS if they apply after reaching 65. Anyone over that age must go through the My Aged Care program, regardless of diagnosed disability,” Mr Night said. “Currently, of the 4.4 million people with disabilities in Australia, 1.9 million are aged 65 and over. Within the aged care system, a common option offered to participants is a home care package which is at the lower end of the monetary spectrum in value compared to NDIS packages and does not have access to supports specific to the disability that its participants need. “The argument of what should come from the funding should become redundant, given that every Australian is entitled to disability support and access. More than half of people over 65 live with some form of disability. “This question of financial support for caregivers or individuals becomes particularly significant when we look at aging caregivers and the reality of caregiver burnout. When elderly carers are no longer able to support a loved one, it is assumed through My Aged Care that the care recipient will then stay at home with very little funding and eventually transition to care full-time or full-time residential care as the first option. There needs to be an in-between option, where we can keep people at home and enjoy their independence with the help of services that will ease caregiver pressure to an appropriate level. “Keeping two brackets of funding at the federal level is not financially sustainable in the long term considering that at age 65 moving to residential care is expensive and most people in the age bracket considered age live in a low-income household, or are forced to stay at home with little funding or access to services. When staying at home is not enough to force early access to residential care, we choose a more expensive option by default.

“We save when we don’t run two federal departments and double down for no good reason and we save when we invest more in keeping people independent at home. Australia’s developing communities are hosting the largest disability and NDIS-related exhibitions Australia has ever seen in 2023. We welcome visitors of all ages, regardless of age or funding model, as many providers of services offer both disability and community service options.

Mr Night said he had listened to the stories of thousands of visitors and thousands of service providers across Australia over the past 18 months and that the change to ensure people over 65 have access to disability assistance, in a simple and easy way, must be done to ensure that we do not waste funds and that we have a streamlined and efficient system. Failure to do so will cost all Australians too much.

/Public release. This material from the original organization/authors may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors.

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