Spinal Life Australia has welcomed recommendations to improve the lives of older Australians with disability, from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report which was tabled in Parliament yesterday.
In the report, the Royal Commissioners recommended that anyone receiving aged care who is living with disability should receive supports and outcomes equivalent to those available under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which only covers people who are under the age of 65.
In addition, the report recommended that the Disability Discrimination Commissioner and the Age Discrimination Commissioner be required to report annually to the Parliament to ensure this equivalent access was being met.
Spinal Life Chief Executive Officer Mark Townend said in most cases, funding provided to people aged over 65 with a disability was simply not enough and only considered age, not a person’s specialised needs including equipment, assistive technology and personal care.
“For people aged over 65, the funding that is provided is nowhere near the level of the NDIS,” he said.
“This means many people are either going without much-needed equipment such as wheelchairs and other mobility aids – or they are forced to purchase these items themselves, on their own limited incomes, and may not be able to afford what’s best for their health and wellbeing.
“We also know many of our members are relying on loved ones to help as they do not have enough funding for personal carers, which would enable them to be more independent and create less strain on partners and families.
“While the report recommended implementing these changes by 1 July 2024, Spinal Life is calling for these inequities to be addressed as soon as possible to improve the lives of people with disability in the aged care system who are struggling every day with this issue.”
People with disability who are not eligible for the NDIS may receive funding from the Commonwealth Continuity of Support Program, My Aged Care or state-based aids and equipment programs.
Bribie Island member and advocate Bill Peacock, who is living with late effects of polio and a spinal cord injury and has My Aged Care funding, urged the Commonwealth Government to implement the recommendations.
“When the NDIS came in, I was over 65 – I was very fearful of what my future held because I knew I was going to need more support. With the prices of equipment and supports, I was greatly concerned about having enough funding to access what I need to let me live an independent, enjoyable life,” he said.
“These recommendations will go a long way to make it far more workable but at the moment the fact is that it’s still called My Aged Care and there’s no disability division.
“With people aged over 65 who are on My Aged Care, their disability tends to disappear into the system and it’s very difficult to find the funding for aids and equipment that are specific to disability.”
The Royal Commissioners’ report, titled Care, Dignity and Respect, included 148 wide-ranging recommendations, calling for call for a fundamental reform of the aged care system.
Below are the full recommendations relating to disability from the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety:
Recommendation 72: Equity for people with disability receiving aged care
By 1 July 2024, every person receiving aged care who is living with disability, regardless of when acquired, should receive through the aged care program daily living supports and outcomes (including assistive technologies, aids and equipment) equivalent to those that would be available under the National Disability Insurance Scheme to a person under the age of 65 years with the same or substantially similar conditions.
Recommendation 73: Annual reporting to Parliament by the Disability Discrimination Commissioner and the Age Discrimination Commissioner
By 1 July 2024, the Disability Discrimination Commissioner and the Age Discrimination Commissioner should be required, as part of the new National Disability Strategy, to report annually to the Parliament on the number of people receiving aged care with disability who are aged 65 years or older and their ability to access daily living supports and outcomes (including assistive technologies, aids and equipment) equivalent to those available under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.