On 16 August 2017, the Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) published a blog post in which they raised concerns about the service and accommodation agreements that residents of group homes are asked to sign under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The following response was sent to the CID on 23 August, addressing their concerns and correcting several assertions made in the blog:
Residents will have more control, not less
Until now, residents in NSW group homes have had no agreement with their provider to cover the terms of their accommodation.
Any ‘understanding’ residents or families think they have either with Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) or with a non-government group home provider is not protected or guaranteed by any formal agreement.
The NDIS requires that both supported independent living (SIL) providers and specialist disability accommodation (SDA) providers have agreements in place with residents and clients.
The agreements with the new providers announced as part of the transfer of ADHC disability supported accommodation fully meet the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) ‘Terms of Business’. CID are completely incorrect to say otherwise.
The new agreements and related contractual protections ensure:
- new providers cannot withdraw their disability services in group homes for two years. This requirement directly provides what families and residents asked for during our consultations about the terms of the transfer;
- any further agreement after two years needs the agreement of the residents and must be on substantially similar terms;
- only in the most extraordinary situation can a provider even consider requiring a resident to move to another group home, either during that two year period or beyond it. There are rare cases where, for the safety of other residents, it is necessary for one resident to move to other supported accommodation;
- residents can select a new provider after two years, although if they have an NDIS package they could do so immediately (but they would need to move to do that);
- the NSW Government will have long-term leases to ensure all group homes stay used for disability accommodation for at least five years, and more often ten years; and
- residents have a guaranteed place for all this time, if they choose to stay.
People will be supported to get the services they need and choose
Under the NDIS, the NDIA will take on the role of ensuring people have access to the supports they need, including working with providers to support people in crisis situations.
During the transition period, the NSW Government will work closely with the NDIA to ensure that processes and expertise are established to be able to actively respond to these requests.
In the case that people have difficulty finding a suitable provider, the NDIA will fund support coordination to assist them in locating a provider.
Once the NDIS is implemented across NSW in 2018, finding alternative solutions for people will be the responsibility of the NDIA.
No one will be left without suitable support.
Transferring disability services to new providers
Transferring disability services, including disability supported accommodation, to the non-government sector is critical to delivering the NDIS.
The transfer will promote growth of services, including in the specialist disability accommodation market, to meet demand.
The non-government sector has the flexibility and responsiveness to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people in our communities, including those with complex needs. Most NSW clients with complex needs already receive support from an NGO.
It is disappointing CID is causing unnecessary alarm for people with disability, their families, carers and guardians. People with disability deserve to be supported through this change which they have waited so long for, not fear it.
To find out more about the service and accommodation agreements between residents and providers, you can access these resources: