Fault lines in NDIS follow cracks in NSW lifetime care scheme

12th Aug 2014

Systemic issues identified in the NSW Lifetime Care and Support Scheme (LTCS) may already be affecting services provided via the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.

The LTCS scheme provides treatment, rehabilitation and attendant care services to people severely injured in motor accidents in NSW.  It is the model for the NDIS.

Questions about the efficacy of the LTCS scheme, including poor service standards, undue bureaucracy and lack of flexibility in care arrangements were identified in recent submissions to the NSW Standing Committee on Law and Justice.

ALA National President Andrew Stone said the latest Progress Report into the NDIS, issued by the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS, contained the early warning signs of the same service inefficiency and inflexibility which continues to plague the NSW scheme.

“The NSW Lifetime Care and Support Scheme is inflicting poor service standards, onerous bureaucracy and lack of flexibility on people who need 24 hour care and assistance. Our fear is that the NDIS is already heading down the same path,” Mr Stone said.

“The NDIS Progress Report shows that one in five scheme participants are not yet using their support plans. It is critical that the lessons being learned from the LTCS are immediately applied to the NDIS.  There is no point making provision for care if it is not supplied and used."

Mr Stone said clear issues with the LTCS scheme were revealed in its latest Annual Report.

“Nearly a third of LTCS scheme participants had a problem with a service provider over a three month period,” Mr Stone said.

“What is frightening is that the LTCS Authority reports that nearly half of these problems still have not been rectified. In this light, it is appalling that the LTCS scheme Annual Report only contains two lines addressing the subject of service delivery.”

“The Annual Report also showed that more than ten percent of scheme participants did not know who their case manager is,” Mr Stone said.

“Given that people are in this scheme because they have been catastrophically injured, the case manager is close to the most important person in their lives. How is it possible that scheme participants don’t have regular contact with their case manager and in some cases they have never even met them?”

Mr Stone said that people in the NDIS were in danger of experiencing similar problems to those highlighted in the LTCS scheme.

“The NDIS Progress Report includes examples of scheme participants actually seeing their quality of life inhibited despite the increased funding and resources being made available to them via the NDIS,” Mr Stone said.

“The NDIS is intended to genuinely empower the injured and disabled to live a better quality of life. However evidence given to the Joint Standing Committee spoke of rigid planning processes, little flexibility or control for carers to spend allocated NDIS funds appropriately, and in some cases being unable to access these funds in the first place,” Mr Stone said.

“These schemes are all about the delivery of essential services. They are meant to be about looking after people who are in desperate need. Yet in many cases this does not appear to be happening.”

Mr Stone said it is critical that the lessons being learned from the LTCS scheme be applied in the implementation of the NDIS.

“For too long, access to disability care and support has been atrociously underfunded, with inadequate choice given to people with disability,” Mr Stone said.

“The National Disability Insurance Scheme is our best chance to rectify this and ensure that people with disability get the care and support they need to enjoy a better quality of life, and the choice to do so.”

“However our fear is that the opportunity for many people with disability to be more in control of their lives and circumstances could be lost in the future if there is inflexibility in the way that the scheme is administered.”

"The critical issue for the NDIS is that there be clear service standards and clear reporting on whether those standards are being met,” Mr Stone said.

The Progress Report of the Joint Standing Committee into the National Disability Insurance Scheme can be accessed here.

Tags: Disability NDIS Lifetime Care and Support Scheme