The New South Wales (NSW) Government is committed to improving the lives of people with a disability, their families and carers. People with a disability, their families and carers have expressed the need for greater choice and control over state based disability funding and resources, and the supports and services they access in their daily lives. To ensure that these people are at the centre of decision making about the services they need, the NSW Government will implement person centred approaches by the end of 2014.
The NSW Government is conducting state wide consultations to seek the views of people with a disability, their families and carers, and service providers on person centred approaches and the outcomes people would like to see within the NSW disability service system.
The consultations commenced with the Living Life My Way summit on 7 and 8 July 2011, which was hosted by the NSW Minister for Disability Services, the Hon. Andrew Constance MR
A total of 153 consultation sessions have been held with people with a disability, families and carers and service providers across metropolitan and regional areas of NSW. In addition, the NSW Government commissioned targeted consultations to engage with people from Aboriginal communities, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with intellectual disability. This report includes the findings of the consultations conducted in languages other than English. The consultations with Aboriginal communities and people with intellectual disability are continuing and will be reported separately.
The consultation sessions explored people's views, in detail, on a person centred approach and its key elements:
1 person centred planning;
2 personalised funding arrangements; and
3 person centred service delivery.
This report provides a summary of the key themes, views and suggested directions arising as a result of the consultations and the written submissions received to date.
During the consultations there was overwhelming support for person centred practice. Person centred practice is seen as an attitude or culture that translates into a way of operating that supports people with a disability to live the life they wish. In a person centred service, a person with a disability is listened to, heard, respected and encouraged to exercise choice and control to the greatest extent possible.
A number of people with a disability, families and carers and service providers shared accounts of how services have become more person centred in recent times. There were a number of positive stories of person centred practice, including direct accounts from people with a disability who had changed their lives significantly as a result.
Carers and family members strongly supported the capacity of person centred approaches to determine the 'right' mix of supports and services at key life stages. Person centred approaches could also contribute to the well being and sustainability of the family unit and continuity of care and support arrangements when family members are no longer around to take part in decision making.
Personalised planning is seen as the way to truly understand and respond to a person's service and support needs. Planning would usefully occur around a person's life stage, needs, circumstances, goals, preferences and aspirations. Families, unpaid carers and friends would frequently play an important part in the planning process, as might paid carers and other support people. All participants agreed on the need for a mechanism to change or adjust a plan as circumstances change and the need for an in built review mechanism.
A number of service providers already undertake one on one planning with the people who access their services but recognise the potential for personalised planning to go much further in responding to their clients' needs.
Personalised funding is seen as critical in terms of providing people with a disability direct control over the supports and services they access. The mechanics of how it might work in practice is the subject of rigorous debate and will require a great deal of thought given the range and complexity of needs and expectations that exist within the community.
A transition to personalised funding has significant implications for the service sector and there is a need to plan for the transition and to develop tools and supports to assist providers to make the change.
Personalised service delivery is seen as a way of thinking and behaving more than anything but there are also significant practical implications in terms of the day to day operation of a disability service.
The issues, questions, ideas and views raised during the consultations are summarised below, and will be used to develop a potential model for implementing person centred approaches for disability supports and services within NSW. The model will be developed over the next few months and presented to the community in a second round of consultations in the first half of 2012.
We would like to thank all the participants in the consultation sessions who gave so generously of their time, experience and energy.
ADHC - NSW