DisabilityCare Australia now has a strong and stable funding stream, after legislation that provides for a half a percentage point increase in the Medicare levy passed through Parliament last month.
With the increased Medicare levy’s passage through the Senate, the lasting future of DisabilityCare Australia has been secured.
The legislation will increase the Medicare levy from 1.5 to 2 per cent of taxable income from 1 July 2014, with every cent raised to be put towards funding DisabilityCare Australia.
DisabilityCare Australia will give people with disability, their families and carers the care and support they need over their lifetimes, and choice and control over the services they receive.
The care and support a person receives will no longer depend on where they live and how they acquired their disability.
When the full scheme is rolled out nationally in 2019-20 around 460,000 Australians with significant and permanent disability will get the support they deserve. Meanwhile, pilot programs for the ‘launch’ phase will get underway in all states and territories except Western Australia from July, giving around 26,000 people with disability increased choice and control over the care and support they receive. WA is the only jurisdiction that is yet to sign up to the agreement.
As part of the development of DisabilityCare Australia, Australian governments are working to ensure the scheme meets the needs of people with disability, their families and carers.
They have developed a fact sheet showing some of the key changes that carers of people with disability can expect to see under DisabilityCare Australia. The purpose of the fact sheet is to update people with disability, their families and carers, about the design of the scheme.
Here is what working carers need to know.
Who are informal carers?
An informal carer is someone who, without pay, helps and supports a family member, friend or neighbour who needs assistance because the impacts of their disability affect their ability to do usual day to day activities. Carers can be any age, they might be in full or part-time paid work, retired or they may be full-time carers. Most live with the person they care for, although some live nearby or are caring from a distance.
Why are carers important?
Informal carers care about the person with disability and know them well. Carers generally provide freely given emotional, physical and practical assistance and support in flexible, convenient and familiar ways that is hard to replicate, in quality and value, by formal services or paid care workers.
How will the contribution of carers be taken into account?
DisabilityCare Australia will not replace all informal care but the scheme will take steps to support the sustainability of carers and ensure that people with disability receive reasonable and necessary support when their carer is no longer willing or able to continue in their role.
DisabilityCare Australia will consider the role and circumstances of a person’s carer when developing individual plans with participants, such as:
- how much unpaid support and care is being provided or is likely to be provided and by whom
- what sort of care is being provided and the extent, frequency or intensity of this care and the impact it has on the carer
- the age of the main carer and person being cared for.
The carer’s circumstances, including their family and care responsibilities for other individuals, work or study commitments, financial difficulties, health issues, level of stress, duration of caring, ability to access reliable transport and social support, are all important in ensuring participants can access support tailored to their individual needs. The scheme will also consider the impact on other members of a carer’s family, including brothers and sisters of the person with a disability.
DisabilityCare Australia will take practical steps to ensure the sustainability of a participant’s care arrangements. Where relevant, DisabilityCare Australia will talk to the carer about:
- whether the carer is able to continue the existing level of care without additional support
- whether the current informal care arrangements are sustainable, for example if it is becoming too hard for the carer to lift the person they are caring for, the carer has health issues which are expected to impact on their capacity to continue to provide care in the future
- whether there are other current or potential carers, and the support (if any) they can and want to provide
- their life plans and aspirations, such as wanting to complete education, return to work, exercise more or engage more socially.
The level of paid formal supports a person needs may relate to the capacity of their carer at a particular point in time. Therefore, the assistance a person receives through DisabilityCare Australia may need to be reviewed as their own, and their carer’s, circumstances and aspirations change.
DisabilityCare Australia may also assist carers directly by including funded supports for them as part of a participant’s plan, such as training to carry out particular support techniques or capacity building for families.
DisabilityCare Australia will also include a comprehensive information and referral service to help people with disability, their families and carers access disability, community and other government funded supports, including:
- courses to build resilience and networks
- counselling and debriefing
- peer support programs
- information and education.
A core aim of the scheme is to better sustain families and carers in their caring role, and to ensure that role is nurtured and can be sustained. DisabilityCare Australia will work with families before they reach crisis to make sure that the valuable informal care they provide can be sustained.
The role of carers in planning and assessment
The design principles of the scheme will recognise families and carers as active partners in the support of people with disability. The views, experience and knowledge of carers can be important in the support planning processes in DisabilityCare Australia because families and carers can have unique understanding of the person, and be able to contribute important insights.
Carers may be involved through the person’s life-long journey with DisabilityCare Australia, including when the person is thinking about their life goals or is involved in assessment and planning processes:
- The planning discussion will include the opportunity to have a comprehensive discussion about the sustainability of the current arrangements and the carer’s capacity to provide care.
- Plans will include consideration of the living arrangements of the person with a disability and the care and mainstream and community services available to them.
- Plans will include the person’s goals and aspirations, including aspirations for independence.
The role of carers in assisting the DisabilityCare Australia planner will vary. The role the carer takes in this process will depend on issues such as:
- the age of the person being cared for
- the wishes of the person with disability
- the needs of the person requiring the support
- whether the carer has legal decision making authority.
Have your say
An essential part of designing DisabilityCare Australia is hearing the advice of people with lived experience of disability, including the families and carers of people with disability.
To get involved, visit our forum ‘Your Say’ at – www.ndis.gov.au – and tell us what you think about the changes that will occur for carers under DisabilityCare Australia.
For more information about DisabilityCare Australia and the rollout of the scheme from 1 July 2013:
- visit www.ndis.gov.au
- call 1800 800 110.
To stay up-to-date with the rollout of the scheme, visit www.ndis.gov.au and click ‘sign up now’.