According to the CEO, the industry desperately needs reform.
- The National Disability Insurance Scheme workforce has an average annual turnover rate of 17 – 25 percent, according to the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government
- The Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work reported disability support workers were often casualised and poorly paid
- A survey of disability support staff found that 64 percent felt committed to their organisation
Busi Faulkner, chief executive officer of Queensland-based disability support provider, Home Care Nurses Australia, is calling for better protections in the disability sector, like those seen in the aged care sector, to fix a ‘loyalty deficit’ in the industry.
“They don’t feel loyal, because at the moment the market is a bit competitive,” Busi said.
The CEO said organisations have been desperately trying to poach staff throughout the sector, as employees routinely jump from one provider to the next — a situation that Ms Faulkner likened to ‘cartels.’
“I’ve got about 200 employees and some of my employees who are loyal to me have told me that there’s a Whatsapp group that they’ve got, with other carers [who have their own Australian Business Numbers] advertising and saying to the other carers ‘come work for me.’
“I can’t stop them from creating those groups among themselves, can I?”
She said this general industry sentiment is also enabling ‘dodgy’ operators to manipulate the system, as clients can bounce from provider to provider without triggering or alerting the National Disability Insurance Agency.
Ms Faulkner claimed that individuals were coercing vulnerable people with disability to move with them, adding to the complexities of understaffing and high turnover rates throughout the sector.
“They come in, they work for the provider, they know the client and then they move with the client to their houses,” Ms Faulkner said.
Busi claimed that staff were able to exploit a loophole in the NDIS, changing the plans of clients and leaving support coordinators, in addition to service providers, baffled when the request to change was approved without alerting the system.
“That’s the loophole — that’s what they’re doing,” she summarised.
“We just want to regulate it if people are moving, we want providers to be given notice if someone is moving to another provider. We just don’t want this abrupt — ‘I’m moving with the client on Monday’ — give us notice.
“There are good people out there who really want to make a difference, who really want these people to succeed in the integration, but because there’s too much financial risk, you can’t continue that way.
“We just need protection — whether it’s unregistered or whoever — transparency; give notice, let it go through a system and then they know who the provider is.”
The Home Care Nurses Australia CEO previously expressed that she was concerned about the financial viability of her staff retention while taking care of those with considerable needs, regarding money she was owed from the NDIS.
Have you heard of group chats like this? Have your staff numbers dropped off? Let the team from Talking Disability know your thoughts on the topic!