Guest Blog by Tara Collyer
We are a family that is very invested in how NDIS impacts upon specialist Disability Service providers. Our adult son (who has autism, mental health and physical impairments), is presently receiving a funding package from Disability Services, under the Your Life Your Choice (YLYC), where, like the NDIS, we have choices in how we spend our funding and with whom. I am also a consumer of these services, as an adult with significant, multiple disabilities.
In our experiences with YLYC, we have seen the good, the bad and the ugly, when it comes to service provision. At times Specialist Disability Service providers have refused to provide certain services, as it is too difficult for them to issue us with an invoice and ensure that they get paid. We also had the very negative experience of a service provider who in 20 weeks of service, failed to turn up on 11 occasions (often without notifying us), and we had 3 support workers leave. However, the flexibility of YLYC (which is similar to that which we will see in NDIS), meant that we were able to vote with our feet and change to another service provider who has been excellent in the services they have provided.
Speaking with people who have been in the trial areas, I believe that many of the specialist providers which have closed down, have done so because clients are opting to change to another service. These were usually service providers that were top-heavy with bureaucracy, and support staff are not adequately supported. It would seem that NDIS is going to force Service Providers to examine the services which they provide, and the way in which they do so. Those with best practice will continue.
Other the other hand, I am concerned that we will see a loss of knowledge and experience across the industry. We should be looking at those ensure that the excellent support workers out there, with extensive knowledge and experience in disability (particularly those disabilities which are less common, or require specialised knowledge), are retained in the industry, whether their employing Disability Service Provider continues to operate or not.
If you are passionate about a service you receive, and feel that it is of high quality, then you should be talking with those organisations now about how they plan to manage the transition to NDIS. Many organisations are providing forums to encourage consumers to tell them what it is they want. Be involved, and be prepared. Some specialised government services need to remain, but the challenge that they face is the transition to being private providers to qualify as registered providers under NDIS.
NDIS is coming. For many states and regions it will not commence until July 2016 which gives plenty of time learn from what has happened in the trials and be better prepared. If you see something which concerns you, speak up, speak out, and advocate ensuring that we benefit from NDIS, rather than suffer from inappropriate services, especially during the transition phase.