Residential Aged Care and the NDIS – It’s Time to Work Together

Two young business people sit on stairs with laptops fist bumping. This image represents residential aged care and NDIS providers working together

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) identified in the People with Disability in Australia (2020) report that 5,600 people under the age of 64 are in permanent residential aged care.

Of the 5,600 young people living in residential aged care (RAC), 72% require high supports in relation to changed behaviours and 88% have limitations with their self-care.

As we know, the Australian Government is committed to minimising the need for younger people to live in RAC facilities. Until such a time however (2025 as per the Younger People in Residential Aged Care – Action Plan), the aim is for NDIS participants living in RAC to receive regulated care and support as per NDIS legislation.

Queue 1st December 2020 and surprise, any RAC provider supporting an NDIS participant within their facility automatically became registered NDIS providers. A process that usually takes in excess of 6 months (sometimes much longer) and involves extensive assessments, audits, documentation and education.

RAC providers automatically became responsible for managing participants, ensuring to support them to exercise choice and control over their lives, including their participation in the NDIS and how they receive care and services.

Now, as a result, many have spent the past 8 months wondering how they turn themselves into an NDIS provider as well as meet the growing requirements they already have within aged care.

Where it becomes increasingly confusing is, NDIS participants living in RAC are dual participants of the NDIS AND Aged Care systems. This means they can access RAC funds for their accommodation and care but also use their NDIS funds as well.

While this is a great outcome for the NDIS participant, especially given their need for high supports, it is evident from the work Amergin have been doing recently that unfortunately, the two sectors are NOT working together to ensure this happens.

The majority of RAC providers are not familiar with how NDIS funding works, NDIS portal claiming, NDIS plans, Support Coordination, and Plan Management. Not to mention the significant differences between NDIS participant goal setting and those of an aged care resident. In their defense, why would they be? They have spent countless hours making sure they understand their own sector, legislation, and Standards. Combining the two is a substantial undertaking.

There is also the added layer of confusion being experienced by NDIS providers who co-support NDIS participants living in RAC. Support Coordinators and Plan Managers are key stakeholders involved in supporting NDIS participants to live the life they chose and assist them with goal setting, activity planning and how best to spend their allocated NDIS funds.

And while Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) have partnered with the NDIS Commission to create the RAC NDIS Support Hub, resources are still in development given the infancy of the initiative itself.
NDIS Support Coordinators are attempting to understand the Aged Care legislation however as Disability Services Manager, Kelli Payne and her team from Marsden Families Program identified recently, “We have done quite a bit of research ourselves but there appears to be a huge grey area when interpreting and applying the [aged care] legislation” when it comes to funding and responsibilities.

It was not until Amergin spent time breaking down the differences across the sector including funding responsibilities that the Support Coordinators at Marsden Families Program could “move forward with confidence”, said Ms Payne and ensure their NDIS participants living in RAC could utilise their plans and funds for the better.

So how can you combine forces?

Our advice; start working together and educating each other.

Of course, utilise the supports from ACSA, however as they continue to develop it’s important to also provide support to each other. After all, each of you are experts in your area/sector. You have the ability to explain complex legislation to each other and transfer it into direct service provision understanding.

Before developing care plans or budgets for care and services, engage each other for education, support to navigate the claiming portal and stakeholder/case conferences to make sure you are all on the same page (RAC and NDIS providers).

Ensure you understand just how an NDIS participant’s funds work within RAC and the NDIS plan. Cross billing can be challenging to understand and navigate therefore lean on each other to fill any knowledge gaps along the way.

Lastly, engage the support of education and consultation firms (such as Amergin) who specialise in, and therefore understand, both the Aged Care AND NDIS sectors. That way you receive tailored advice and guidance in areas such as service provision, funding and claiming, policy and procedure revisions, and audit support.

We really are all in this together and the ultimate aim is to ensure participants/residents receive the care and services they need and are entitled to, with as little disruption to your efficiencies and business processes as possible. It can be done!

Next Steps

For more information on the topic of NDIS participants in Residential Aged Care and how best to receive support as a provider, book a consult with the team at Amergin.