NEWSLETTER JUNE 2016
Welcome to Welcome to the June 2016 edition of the MOD.A newsletter. The new financial year kicks off with a bang. The NDIS began its national rollout from Friday 1 July and introduces significant challenges and opportunities for home modification service providers. We provide an overview of the different processes used by the NDIA in various regions to request and approve home modifications as a guide for those services that will be engaging with the NDIS for the first time over coming months. The federal election takes place on 2 July and the government elected on Saturday will oversee the implementation of the remainder of the aged care reform programme. We anticipate that more detail about the second round of reform changes, scheduled to commence 1 July 2018, will be available in a discussion paper toward the end of the year. It will be critical for MOD.A and its members to make strong representation to the Department about how home modifications need to be funded to support strategies to keep more older people at home for longer.
During the latter stages of the election campaign MOD.A released its Election Platform and petitioned a response from each of the major parties. We were pleased to have received replies from all the major parties and are confident that home modifications will become more prominent in ageing and housing policy moving forward. We can assure our members that whoever wins government MOD.A will continue to argue the importance of home modifications and the expertise of our members and providers in general.
We are very pleased to announce that we now have members in all states and territories of Australia. Our newest organisational member is Systems Homes in Darwin, a family-owned and run company which has added specialised modifications for older people and people with disability to its range of other building products and services for a number of years. It will be interesting to work with the staff there to understand how home modifications, both in the NDIS and CHSP, can be made more available to eligible clients.
Thank you to those services that have already renewed their membership and a reminder to others that Membership Renewal Forms will be issued on the anniversary of joining. MOD.A is committed to progressing home modifications and promoting the interests of home modification service providers and the support of our members is invaluable.
Thanks also to those members that completed our recent Member Feedback Survey. We are still analysing the results but will provide a summary report on the members section of our website in due course. The number of respondents and level of feedback received was encouraging and informative and has provided the MOD.A board and management with useful insights and evidence to progress some key initiatives to deliver better benefits and services to members.
The 2015-2016 financial year has been a very busy one
with a number of challenges facing the sector - the next 12 months promises more of the same but MOD.A
is committed to the promotion of our members and home modifications as an important way to improve the
health and well-being of the elderly and people with a disability.
Michael Bleasdale, CEO
At the 2016 MOD.A Conference in Canberra we heard from Dr Lloyd Walker, Director of Assistive Technology at the national Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), about the way the agency aims to deliver home modifications within the NDIS. Given the significant increase in the rollout of the NDIS from Friday 1 July, MOD.A has been seeking more detail from the NDIA about how it will engage with providers in the regions that come "on line" on that day. We have received a written response from the NDIA which is published in the Members' section of our website. Subsequent communication with Dr Walker has confirmed that the sector can expect a document outlining how major and complex home modifications will be dealt with under the NDIS in the next couple of months, and that MOD.A will be consulted before its final release. From 1 July 2016 the NDIA roll-out schedule is as follows:
MOD.A's understanding is that the general rule will be "business as usual", so that home modification providers that already provide services to the NDIS will continue to do so in the same way to additional age groups (eg: Tasmania and South Australia). It is not clear, however, what this means for new locations. Members that already operate in the trial and launch sites have put together a brief list of the different NDIS modes of operation as a guide for those who will be operating in these new areas.
In NSW the mode of operation since 2013 in the Hunter trial site has been:
In South Australia service level agreements have been in place for complex modifications since it came on board in 2014 (for children). It is expected that these arrangements will continue. South Australia rolls out by increasing the age group over the next few years, and more simple as well as complex home modifications are anticipated. It is expected that providers will engage with simple modifications through the new "myplace" provider portal, but at this stage the new working arrangements for these are not known.
In Victoria the process appears to have been:
In the ACT the free market model is in operation. The experience there has been:
Set up and admin
MOD.A understands that this more free market based approach will apply in the Southern NSW region.
In Tasmania the process for home modification delivery has tended to be:
There is a risk that some builders will stop quoting if they are constantly asked to change their quotes or if they don't 'win' jobs.
In Queensland, which only commenced in April 2016, there is no clear indication of how the NDIS will engage with the sector now that the scheme is rolling out more fully.
Services operating within areas that come under the NDIS will be subject to progressive reduced funding variations as they make the transition from block-funding to individual funding. The NSW Department of Families and Communities, Ageing Disability and Home Care (ADHC) has made available to MOD.A information sheets that were sent to affected providers in May 2016 that outline the schedule and magnitude of funding variations. These are available here.
At this stage MOD.A has no information about similar arrangements in the other states or territories.
If MOD.A members have questions about funding and other transition arrangements, or any other concerns about the rollout of the NDIS, they should contact us at email@example.com
MOD.A Engagement with the Department of Health
Our CEO, Michael Bleasdale, met with Karen Pickering, Assistant Secretary Home Support Branch at the Department of Health, and her staff on Thursday 23 June to discuss ongoing concerns and issues with MAC and the CHSP. The following issues were raised on behalf of the sector:
of these issues have been evident since the MAC was introduced a year ago. The Department has undertaken
to look into specific cases in detail to determine whether the root cause of a problem is systemic or
behavioural. We are currently in the process of putting services that have contacted us with detailed
case studies in touch with the Department so that their root cause can be investigated.
Another issue discussed was how to handle cases of financial hardship given the $10,000 limit on the Commonwealth subsidy for home modifications. MOD.A is aware of at least one instance where a client cannot afford their contribution for a bathroom modification that is clinically required and may have to access residential aged care instead. We have been told by the Department that in this and any other instance on no account can additional Commonwealth funds be used to pay for the outstanding amount.
Online Content Relocates
Providers should have received information from the Department of Health that from 1 July 2016 Ageing and Aged Care content will be moved from the Department of Social Services website to the Department of Health's platform at agedcare.health.gov.au
Recent Changes to MAC
Changes to the My Aged Care system were put into effect over the weekend of 25 and 26 June. MOD.A is interested in any member feedback on whether these changes have improved the client and/or provider MAC experience. In particular we wish to know:
The Federal Election was held on Saturday 2 July and it is fair to say that issues concerning aged care and housing did not received much media attention during the campaign. MOD.A's own election platform was released on Tuesday 21 June and sent to the major parties and cross benchers. This article outlines the 2 major asks MOD.A has put to those charged with governing Australia, and explains why.
MOD.A has received acknowledgements from the major parties and a substantive response from Senator
Rachel Siewert of the Greens, summarised here:
"The 11 measures you have identified are crucial and the Greens are strong supporters of universal design and accessible housing stock and will commit to working with you and other advocates in this area in the coming years to achieve a funding package to retrofit Australian housing and to review and upgrade the National Construction Code to include stronger universal housing design standards in new housing."
In addition the response points to the Greens' policy on national housing affordability, which includes:
The Greens also affirmed their support for a proactive ageing policy, which addressed age discrimination as well as reforms and adequate funding for aged care, and for the rollout of the NDIS.
MOD.A will continue to pursue our goals not just with politicians but with other stakeholders and supporters, and aim to raise the profile of the housing stock as the foundation for all the positive policies currently being enacted to enable older people and people with disability to live at home.
Members may also be interested in the positions adopted by the NSW Ageing Alliance, which include a statement about the need for affordable and accessible housing.
Recently MOD.A alerted its members to the new provisions in the National Construction Code (NCC) which have changed the allowable gradient of external ramps to 1:8 and increased the slip resistance requirement of all ramps fixed to Class 1 buildings. For those that missed our email notification early in June the Home Modification Information Clearing House (HMinfo) have published an Industry Fact Sheet about the new requirements, and what surfaces are likely to comply with the required slip resistance of P5 or R12. The Fact Sheet should be updated with examples of slip resistance in the next few days.
Testing has indicated that most wooden ramps will no longer meet the requirements, which has cost implications for both providers and consumers. The additional slip resistance will also not work well for many consumers who need an easier path of travel than it will allow. MOD.A and HMinfo will be raising these issues with funding bodies and directly with the Australian Building Codes Board, which reviews and amends the NCC each year.
MOD.A CEO Michael Bleasdale appeared on the Sky News Real Estate programme on Saturday 18 June to promote the benefits of home modifications and timely accessible renovations for seniors who wish to remain at home rather than move into residential aged care. If you missed that interview you can watch it on our YouTube channel.
Australia11th Annual Associations Forum National Conference, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne. 4-5 July 2016.
Australian Assistive Technology Conference: Collaborate, Empower, Transform - Realising opportunities with assistive technology solutions, Jupiters Hotel & Casino, Gold Coast, Queensland, 27-29 July 2016.
Active Ageing Conference 2016: Wellness, reablement and restorative care in aged care. Swissotel, Sydney, 4 August 2016.
Griffith University NDIS Symposia Series. Housing for people with disability: What does an inclusive housing system look like? Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, South Brisbane, 8 August 2016.
OTNSW Workshop: Environmental Home Modifications - The Basics, Taree, 12-13 August 2016.
Universal Design Conference, Sydney Town Hall, 30 -31 August 2016.
ACSA 2016 National Summit. Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart, 6-9 September 2016.
Free online courses on disability and a good lifeDisability and a Good Life: Working with Disability (commences1st August). For further information contact Leanne Dowse or see more here.