Tuesday, November 29 2011
Media Release, The Hon Jenny Macklin MP. Minister for Family, Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 21 November 2011
The Impairment Tables used to assess people’s eligibility for the Disability Support Pension will be able to be updated for the first time in more than ten years, as a result of legislation passed through Parliament today.
People who apply for the Disability Support Pension from the 1st January 2012 will be assessed under the new Impairment Tables.
The legislation will ensure the Impairment Tables are able to be updated regularly and enable the introduction of new Tables that are consistent with modern medical and rehabilitation practice. The Impairment Tables are used in Disability Support Pension assessments to measure how a person's impairment affects their ability to work.
They were last reviewed in 1993 and contain anomalies and inconsistencies which have distorted the assessment process. For example, when hearing impairment is assessed, a person with a hearing aid is not required to wear it but someone who is having their sight impairment assessed must wear their glasses.
An Advisory Committee consisting of medical, allied health and rehabilitation experts, representatives of people with disability, mental health advocates and relevant Government agencies was established in April 2010. Following a thorough review and extensive consultation, the Advisory Committee found the current Impairment Tables are longer consistent with contemporary medical and rehabilitation practice, and recommended new Impairment Tables.
The Government has been continuing to consult with disability stakeholders and medical experts to ensure the recommended new Tables are implemented fairly and effectively from 1 January next year. The new Impairment Tables focus on what people are able to do, rather than what they can’t do.
From 1 July 2012 we are introducing a range of reforms to encourage greater participation by DSP recipients.
• Introduce new participation requirements for disability support pensioners under the age of 35 with some capacity to work to build their capacity
• Provide more generous rules for existing disability pensioners to encourage them to work more hours
• Support employers to take on more disability pensioners through new financial incentives
The Advisory Committee’s review of the Disability Support Pension Impairment Tables and recommended new Tables can be viewed at:
Tuesday, November 29 2011
On 1 July 2010, OPA invited staff and Community Visitors to attend a meeting about community residential units (CRU’s).
The purpose of this meeting was to gather information that could be used by Reinforce’s working group on ‘Best Practice in CRUs’.
A summary of the discussions at this meeting is contained in a document now available on the OPA website at:
Sunday, November 27 2011
“The impetus to always keep CRUs looking clean detracts from the need to provide support to residents [PCAS/PBS etc]”, says the office of the Public Advocate (OPA) – Victoria. More from the OPA attached.
“Current disability support arrangements are inequitable, underfunded, fragmented, and inefficient and give people with a disability little choice. The current arrangements cannot be called a genuine 'system'”, says the Productivity Commission’s Report of July 2011, Volume 1, ‘Overview’, page 5.
“Some houses operate from an 'institution' mindset, catering for residents' physical needs rather than operating like a home where residents are encouraged to develop an independence limited only by their own capacity". The reactive nature of DHS's response to accommodation needs, combined with the stringent prioritisation criteria, is likely to continue, and therefore perpetuate a crisis-driven system”, says the Victorian Auditor General's Report, Mar 2008.
The million dollar question is:
“Will the NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency) have the charisma/power to change these extremely powerful and entrenched detrimental attitudes which have developed as a direct result of:
“Captive market ‘reactive’ not ‘proactive’ service management”, especially government direct service provision, and which people with a disability and their families have suffered for decades”.
Friday, November 25 2011
These are just the living expenses, not the support costs
The expenses are not comprehensive, but a common example
CSO (Community Service Organisation):
The DSP is $689.00: 75% of $689.00 = $516.75 + Rent Assistance of $47.20 = $563.95 paid to CSO as an Accommodation Fee. Client, therefore, has $172.25 + DSP Supplement of 59.80 = $232.05 for personal expenditure, clothing, etc.
All figures are pf.
With an annual expenditure of (example):-
ATSS Placement Fees $1019
ATSS Program Fees 960
Personal Expenditure 1440
Total pa 4419
CSO Client's surplus after "Living Expenses" (see above) $232pf = $5568pa
Client has remaining $48pf
DHS (Department of Human Services - Victoria)
The DSP is $689.00 + Supplement of $59.80 + Rent Assistance of $47.20 = $796.00 - $321.76 Rent & Housekeeping/Utilities (Accommodation Fee) = $474.24 client, therefore, has for personal expenditure, clothing, etc.
All figures are pf.
With an annual expenditure of (example):-
ATSS Placement Fees $1019
ATSS Program Fees 960
Personal Expenditure 1440
Total pa 4419
DHS Client's surplus after "Living Expenses" (see above) $474pf = $11376pa
Client has remaining $290pf
Please feel free to comment on these figures. We are interested in your feedback, good or bad. Contact details are on the website. By mail to be covert.
Monday, November 21 2011
Experiences of Restrictive Practices: “A view from people with disabilities and family carers”
Some extracts/key findings from the Report:
• The report finds that advocates and families often have to fight to the very top for their views to be heard – page 2.
• The report finds that restrictions are never recorded but are implemented by staff to maintain overall control of a setting – page 2
• The report finds services are withdrawn, changed or reduced where staff attitudes are negative – page 2
• The report finds that because of the behaviour of a few clients, other clients have had to sacrifice rights and choices –page 3.
• The report finds that there should be an open door policy for families and advocates – page 3.
• The report finds that behaviours of concern is a potential for lack of staff interaction with clients – page 3.
• The report finds the department (DHS/DS Victoria) should listen to the voices of people with disabilities, families and carers (customers) – page 4.
• The report finds that the department (DHS/DS Victoria) should work with families and people with disabilities, collaboratively and cooperatively –page 4.
• The report finds that families, carers and advocates should have access and scrutiny rights – page 4.
• The report finds that there should be a review of incident reporting mechanisms at department (DHS/DS Victoria) level page 4.
LISA Comment: Our restrictive practice and questionable activity findings are these and many, many more, for which the department is in total denial, with its reactive management compounding service level and quality problems for clients, in preference to staff welfare.
LINK to Full Report
Wednesday, November 16 2011
Those parents who have pulled their adult family member out of a group-home and day-centre, into a self-directed lifestyle, say it’s the very best thing they did for their loved one.
Many of these families did not move to self-directed-approaches ( SDA), solely because of the more subtle aspects of the SDA lifestyle quality, such as not being horded around like sheep. But because of the lack of quality-of-life-care, overall.
It is sad when, after all the years of CRUs and ATSSs, families finally become so sick of their loved one languishing in minder-care group homes and day centres - losing skills and self-esteem. When it is not rocket science to a least ensure residents/clients receive very meaningful and consistent quality of life care within recognised community standards. Rather than basic minder-care.
When young adults move from the family home, to a group home, their quality of life drops significantly. When they move from a Special, or Special Developmental School, to a Day Centre (ATSS), the level and quality of service frequently drops sinificantly. It is, therefore, easy to see why SDA is being promoted so strongly.
It is equally easy to see the need for Day Centres (ATSSs) to be staffed and funded by Education Departments, not Human Services. And that all group homes be operated by NFP/NGO/CSOs, under quality control contracts, and within NDS service quality guidelines.
Although the advocates of SDA, very actively encourage everyone to move to SDA, the very large number of people currently in group homes and day centres, means it is not an overnight transition - even if everyone was willing and able.
Certainly, people with a disability and their families can be encouraged towards SDAs, they should not be seen as languishing away if they choose not to move to a SDA.
The standards of day centres and group homes, especially government direct care group homes, need to be significantly raised, as do their customer relations, to ensure the person with the disability and their family are at the very centre of every aspect of service provision.
Although we accept there are many CRU and ATSS facilities who do their best to provide care and support as good as possible, those who support and promote self-directed-approaches (SDA), do not consider the concepts can ever be good enough.
See "Field" Web Site: http://www.field.org.au/
Monday, November 14 2011
The quality of life of people with an intellectual disability is directly proportional to their level of ability. Every avenue and opportunity having the potential to expand their quality of life should be considered. All travel is an opportunity to expand their horizons, and should not be missed. They should therefore be considered the priority focus of all travel opportunities.
Adherence to the following guidelines will help ensure those disadvantaged by intellectual disability enhance their quality of life through a positive travel experience.
• Ensure that everyone has a seat belt, harness, or wheel chair restraints firmly secured.
• Wherever possible, have suitable residents or students share the front seat next to the driver
• Wherever possible, all support staff except the driver should be in the back with the residents or students, for safety and to enhance communications.
• Ensure people sitting beside each other are as compatible as possible.
• Count the number of people before leaving, and each time they re-enter the vehicle, after the doors are closed, and before moving off.
• Ensure everyone is informed what is intended during the outing.
• Remember to include everyone in the discussions when travelling and stopped, even if there is a view that they don’t understand.
• Talk to everyone about their day.
The above steps will help to ensure that everyone achieves a positive and productive outcome from the outing
Sunday, November 13 2011
This is nothing to do with fat or thin people!
These terms used to describe stand-alone computers. Those with everything on-board – like the average home computer. As against a computer holding little more that the operating system, with data/files held at a remote location – a main frame.
The Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Victoria, has traditionally made its supported accommodation group homes almost stand-alone/self-sufficient through a large office and extensive equipment – with each house being almost a business in itself.
A large percentage of the reason for this is the department’s inability to make its reactive management, above house supervisor, responsible. House supervisors, therefore, being expected to be totally responsible for what is, in effect, a stand-alone business. House supervisors receive little or no support from those above them – hence the traditional large office and “fat client” computer in each house.
Recently, however, department management, above house supervisor, had a rush of blood to the head regarding privacy, and that house computers should become “thin-clients”, with restricted/designated access to the data/files now on a remote main frame.
It appears the trial with 100 houses has gone pear shaped, leaving staff unable to access vital information on their residents, and more
Wednesday, November 09 2011
The DHS Victoria, DSR restrictive practice culture outlined by a senior DHS manager…….
“This is a response to your client’s request to relocate from a DHS group home, to a group home managed by a Community Service Organisation (CSO).
You are advised that all requests for resource allocation from DHS, Disability Services. are registered on the Disability Support Register (DSR), and are subject to departmental guidelines.
The assessment of suitability of placement for individuals registered on the DSR for group homes are based on a number of factors including priority of access, compatibility with current residents and matching of the person's individual needs with level of support provided. These factors are applied when considering vacancies for both DHS and CSO managed group homes”.
The client in question has been on the DSR for four years! And this is a re-location, not an initial placement. So cost is not a factor!
Wednesday, November 02 2011
One of the major problems for people with an intellectual or multiple disability, and their families, is service level and quality outcomes – What is happening, if anything, behind those closed doors? Is the service meeting consumer expectations, service agreements and service standards? Is the service actually meeting consumer needs and family expectations?
Those in our society who are limited in their ability to enjoy all the facets of the life most of the general population take for granted, deserve the very best their ability will allow, and the best they can be proactively encouraged to achieve.
With the present captive market service provision, as a direct result of an under supply of services directly resulting from inadequate funding and government bureaucratic waste, service provision attitude is mostly: “take it, or leave it”.
Therefore, with little opportunity for market-place driven quality until NDIS, there are a few factors intended to look behind those closed doors. Although the present captive market service providers are not too keen on being scrutinised by such as, “Community Visitors and Independent Accreditation”.
They are certainly not keen to release the outcomes of such scrutiny. Despite DHS publications which say, (a) "It is the responsibility of the disability service provider to communicate audit findings to service users, family members and carers", (b) "Disability service providers must inform service users, family members and carers about how they can be involved in the audit process" and, (c) “Service user participation is an important part of the audit process. Disability service providers are required to inform all service users of the audit and provide them with an opportunity to:
• participate in the audit, particularly providing an invitation to attend the
opening and closing meetings.
• be involved in the continuous improvement process.
The initial phase of NDIS should bring new service providers, as more federal funding gets into the market place to provide services to those on the waiting list. It is the second phase which should be of concern, as this will provide ISPs (Individualised Funding) to the current residents of group homes, many of these being government direct service (DHS in Victoria).
Having had captive market and power over people luxury for years, these large government services will not wish to compete for ISP business with non-government services, We, therefore, estimate they will be devising methods to retain their empire at the expense of consumers. Many residents of DHS group homes have no family or no interested family, and many families would do little more than hand a NDIS ISP to the DHS, to carry on as usual.
Currently in Victoria, the DHS is an out-of-control juganaught. It is the landlord and service provider of a large number of group homes in the state, it funds and regulates most non-government services, it controls most placements in Victoria, it retains its group home residents by refusing to give them residential tenancy rights and individualised funding. And the same despotic action restricts its residents bringing in a non-government service provider.
Without serious Federal Government intervention, there is little hope for the existing residents of DHS group homes ever realising the primary intention of the, “National Disability Services (NDS)” – Victorian Disability Services Transition Plan – that of:-
• People with a disability, their families and carers at the centre of service delivery.
• Real outcomes for people with a disability