‘Mass exodus’ of disability support providers on the horizon, data suggests

Posted 11 months ago by David McManus
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Looming changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS] have led some providers to question the future of their support service. [Source: Shutterstock]
Looming changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS] have led some providers to question the future of their support service. [Source: Shutterstock]

Key points:

    • 83 percent of providers say they are concerned about their ability to deliver disability services using the new price limits in this financial year
    • 32 percent of providers had trouble accessing insurance required to run their disability services in the last year
    • 59 percent of providers expressed concerns about their organisations having the capacity to adapt to the new ‘PACE’ system

 

National Disability Services [NDS]-commissioned research has painted a grim image for the future of the care sector, amidst the Federal Government’s commitment to cracking down on fraud and rorting.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS] ‘PACE’ system, which is a customer relationship management [CRM] system built by the National Disability Insurance Agency [NDIA] is set to roll out in late-2023, following trials in Tasmania.

However, the Government’s overhaul to NDIS pricing models, coupled with rising insurance costs and growing concerns of financial stress had left some providers unsatisfied. Some expressed that they were owed large sums of money by the Agency, which they have had to compensate for through out-of-pocket expenses.

Busi Faulkner, chief executive officer [CEO] of Queensland-based provider Home Care Nurses Australia, said she is currently owed over half a million dollars from the NDIS.

“I understand that there are some providers out there acting in a fraudulent way and they should be held accountable, but for someone like me, I am just trying to provide enough care that keeps — not only my clients with high risk needs safe — but also my staff,” she said.

“The NDIS should be paying for this, but instead, out of my duty of care, I am having to pick up the slack and no funding is there to support me and others trying to do the right thing.”

NDS CEO Laurie Leigh said the current pricing arrangements are not sustainable for providers to remain financially viable.

“Without pricing adequate to cover costs, a majority of disability service providers are now concerned that they will be simply unable to continue to provide the essential supports that people with disability rely on,” the CEO explained.

“The government talks a lot about cracking down on NDIS fraud, as they should, but what are they doing to support the vast majority of providers who are doing the right thing and struggling to cover the costs of compliance, training and insurance?”

Ms Leigh called on Minister Bill Shorten to urgently address concerns of the sector, outside of the NDIS Review and Annual Pricing Review. Instead, the NDS CEO encouraged Mr Shorten to consider an out-of-cycle pricing update to prevent, what she described as, “an impending walk-out.”

David Greenwood, CEO of Victorian youth disability provider, Biala, expressed that, because the not-for-profit worked exclusively with kids, he felt that they were one of the organisations affected most by the pricing model.

“Working with children in their natural setting is becoming unviable under the NDIS,” Mr Greenwood said.

“We are now at the stage where we will see providers exit the market and our concern is for the children and families we support. The result of the pricing strategy — for organisations such as ours — will see children exiting services and joining ever increasing wait lists, which is unconscionable.”

The PACE system will be interlinked with the my NDIS portal, to ensure cohesion when viewing and managing client payment systems. Although, existing feedback reported in the NDIS overview noted mixed reception from frontline staff to the new Salesforce-structured system.