Home' Community Care Review : CCR May-Jun 2015 Contents Improving access to telehealth
for people with hearing and speech impairments
The National Relay Service is a Government program that
lets people with hearing or speech loss make phone calls.
Despite the growth in telehealth services as a way of
providing real-time interactions between patients and
providers, people who have a hearing or speech
impairment face many barriers before they can be
meaningfully involved in these initiatives.
We are looking for aged care professionals to join a
working group on improving access to telehealth
services for NRS users.
Contact the NRS on 1800 555 660 or
YOU JOIN A
community transport to help someone
travel to medical appointments, or cleaning
and in-home support for a family who
have suddenly gone from having two to
five children under five. On average, each
ComPacks package provides 5.6 hours of
The new person-centred environment,
focused on wellness and reablement,
seemed perfectly suited to this type of care,
and so many of us were surprised when
case management was overlooked in the
initial stages of the NDIS.
When a person applies for an NDIS
package they are assigned a planner, whose
role is to help that person develop a care
plan and to link to services they might need,
including case management if required. We
saw two problems here. First, establishing
a centralised bureaucracy of planners, to
do a role that case managers across NSW
were already doing, seemed antithetical to
what the government wanted to achieve.
Second, unlike the existing network of case
managers, the planners did not have the
linkage experience in local areas for people
as effectively as they could have.
This, along with the lack of information
about funding and transition arrangements,
created a lot of uncertainty in the sector.
Individual case managers were potentially
going to be out of a job, and small-to-
medium organisations were unsure whether
they were going to be able to continue
operating after 30 June 2015.
Thankfully, two recent developments have
been positive signs that government has
rethought its approach.
The NDIS has just opened up
consultation on the Information Linkages
and Capacity Building (ILC) Policy
Framework, which is the new name for the
former Tier 2, where case management sat.
Additionally, the sector was advised in
March that existing funding arrangements
would be extended for a three-year period.
Service providers will now have ample lead-
time to fully transition to the full NDIS.
These developments are not only good
news for individuals and organisations
operating in the disability care sector, they are
also positive signs for how My Aged Care and
the Commonwealth Home Support Program
(CHSP) will work.
COA is looking to create links between
government and the sector to improve
communication and help avoid the issues
that emerged in the rollout of the NDIS. For
example, we are committed to partnering
with local councils to ensure community
services are recognised as an integral part of
We are also continuing our advocacy
within the ILC Policy Framework space
and also in relation to My Aged Care and
the CHSP. The government has released
three discussion papers recently and our
feedback will focus on the importance
of small-to-medium organisations and
case managers, and on meeting the
requirements of people who have high and
Reforming social care in Australia is an
unprecedented opportunity for change,
improvements and genuinely positive
outcomes, whether in aged care, disabilities,
mental health, homelessness or other areas
of community care. Probably the most
important thing we have learned to date is
that we cannot rely on government to get it
right, not without help. It falls on those of us
with experience in the sector to demonstrate
to the importance of the work we do, helping
people become and remain independent for
as long as possible. n
Maree O'Rourke is executive director
of Community Options Australia, a
community care peak body, and budget
holder and point of contact for a range of
funded programs in NSW.
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