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Disability funding split recognises age needs

23 July 2001
Media Statement


Disability funding split recognises age-related needs


The government's decision to separate disability support services funding into two streams acknowledges the different needs of older and younger people, Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson said today.

The decision separates DSS funding for people aged 65 and over from funding for those aged under 65.

Ms Dyson said both age groups would benefit from the funding split.

"The complex and serious health and disability needs of older people are not the same as the more stable needs of younger disabled people. The funding split acknowledges these differences and will enable us to focus better on each group."

Ruth Dyson said the decision arose out of the findings of the New Zealand Positive Ageing Strategy and the New Zealand Disability Strategy.

"Younger people's support needs typically relate to wider sectors such as housing, income, education and employment. The split will encourage a broader focus on disability issues, as emphasised in the disability strategy."

Ms Dyson said it was inappropriate to have demand driven funding for older people within the capped DSS budget of around $1.2 billion a year.

"Every year more of the budget is going into residential care for older people, which is driven by demand. This puts increasing pressure on the provision of general disability support services and essential equipment such as wheelchairs and hearing aids for younger people."

Ruth Dyson said older people would also benefit from the separation of funding.

"The Positive Aging Strategy has identified the need for a seamless transition between services in response to older people's changing needs. This integrated continuum of care model will be spelt out further in the Health of Older People Strategy, due to be released shortly."

Ms Dyson said all disability support services funding would stay within the Ministry of Health in the short term.

"The Ministry of Health will work closely with two lead district health boards, Canterbury and Northland, on how best to integrate services around the needs of older people.

"Funding for older people will only be devolved to district health boards when they can demonstrate their ability to provide an integrated continuum of care model."

The ministry is doing further work to consider long-term funding options for younger disabled people which promote their independence and participation in community life.


ENDS


DSS Funding Split: Background

1. What are disability support services?

A disabled person is someone who has been identified as having a physical, psychiatric, intellectual, sensory or age related disability (or a combination of these) which is likely to continue for a minimum of six months and result in a reduction of independent functioning to the extent that ongoing support is required.


The range of Disability Support Services include:
- disability information and advisory services
- home support and personal care
- habilitation and rehabilitation support
- environmental support such as equipment, housing alterations and vehicle modifications
- needs assessment and service coordination (NASC)
- long term residential care, such as rest homes and long stay hospitals

These are currently planned for and funded by the Ministry of Health.


2. How do people access Disability Support Services now?

Accessing Disability Support Services is a three-step process:
- Needs Assessment: A needs assessment will identify a person's full care and support needs. This is carried out by Needs Assessment Service Coordination agencies (NASC).
- Service Coordination: A service coordinator will identify appropriate services (these may or may not be state funded services), facilitate means-testing with Work and Income New Zealand where applicable, and refer the client to Disability Support Services providers and other identified supports (eg education, community based organisations etc). Service Coordination is also carried out by NASC agencies.
- Service Provision: DSS funded provision of the above services will be offered by various providers such as IHC, Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind, hospitals, rest homes and Disability Resource Centres.


3. Why has the government made this decision?

The government has agreed to split DSS funding so that there is a separate focus for the funding and planning of services for older people with disabilities and those for younger people with disabilities. Services will continue to be funded by the Ministry of Health in the meantime, and there will be no change to current contracts.

4. Why has 65 been chosen as the cut-off date?

Demographic data shows that as people age, there is higher utilisation of both health and disability support services. Age 65 is the average age for the beginning of that trend.


5. Why were Canterbury and Northland District Health Boards chosen to work with the Ministry?

These two district health boards serve very different populations and operate in very different geographical areas. The district health boards' experiences will assist the Ministry to further develop a model of integrated care.


6. I currently use a range disability support services. What will these changes mean for me?

The provision of service will not change. It is only the funder that may change.

ENDS

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