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Hodgson: Intellectual Disability Providers

National Residential Intellectual Disability Provider Group (NRID) Conference

Thank you for inviting me to talk to you today at the closing of the National Residential Intellectual Disability Provider Group (NRID) Conference. I would particularly like to thank the conference organising committee and acknowledge the chair, Marese McGee, and the convenor, Wendy Becker. I hope you have all had a productive two days.

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When I spoke at last year's conference, I talked about this Labour-led government's commitment to people with disabilities. The Ministry is addressing some of the issues highlighted then, as high priorities, which suggests the relationship is working well.

I would like to take the opportunity today to celebrate what we have achieved over the past year, and to talk about this government's plans for the future. Two national projects I especially want to highlight are:
·the NASC Development Programme, and
·the Intellectual Disability Residential Services Development project.

Both projects will have an effect on NRID member organisations and their local needs assessment and service co-ordination organisations. I will return to the projects shortly, but I think it important to start with what the Disability Services Directorate (DSD) has been doing to improve communication services users.

Improving outcomes by understanding the aspirations of consumers and their families

Geraldine Woods, Deputy Director-General, DSD signalled that the Directorate will give greater attention to purchasing outcome-focused services. Engaging better with people with disabilities and family members is vital.

To promote this, representatives from 18 national disability organisations gathered in Wellington in November 2005 for the inaugural meeting of the DSD Consumer Consortium - itself set up as a result of consumer forums held throughout the country in 2005.

A key task of those who participated was to give feedback on Geraldine Woods' vision: supporting people to achieve an ordinary and good home life. Members were encouraged to go back to their organisations to consider just what the indicators of an ordinary and good home life would be and then reconvene for a second meeting in early June 2006.

I wholeheartedly encourage such discussions to continue so that the aspirations of people who have an intellectual disability can be better understood.

Kimberley Project

The Kimberly deinstitutionalisation project is a prime example of what it takes to empower the 379 residents to live lives that are more 'ordinary'. Planning to relocate residents to the community was approved in 2001, but the scope and the care and consultation involved has meant we will finally achieve this milestone later this year.

The project carefully considered the diverse expectations of everyone involved at every step of the process. Family, whanau and former residents were also represented on the project steering group and had input into all major project decisions. This sort of involvement is typical of what the Ministry will be expecting as minimum levels of participation by consumers and their families in the future.

Providers involved with the Kimberley project will know that recruiting staff has been a major challenge throughout the project, but joint problem solving has produced some very innovative ways to find suitable employees. Some of these initiatives included asking existing staff members to nominate other people who might be suitable employees, and using open days to showcase what the work involves. Additionally the open days countered any existing negative attitudes from local people.

The Ministry also worked collaboratively with the Levin office of Work and Income to address a shortage of suitable workers for new community services and an education provider became involved to identify suitable potential workers.

But having providers, houses and a willing and able workforce is not always enough to ensure success. Unfortunately a few neighbourhoods have been less than warm to the idea of houses in their community being purchased for people leaving Kimberley. I hope that this attitude will shift sooner rather than later.

Quality and Safety Project

During 2003/04, DSD gathered specific information on the estimated workforce of 47,000 in the sector. It reported a sector characterised by:
·low rates of pay
·predominately female workers aged 31- 51 years
·part-time or casual workers
·limited qualifications (only 17 per cent had received training based on an NZQA unit standard), and
·high turnover of approximately 29 per cent for residential care and 39 per cent for home based support.

Despite these concerns, providers all considered training to be important and valuable.

HBSS Training Initiative

The Home-Based Support Services (HBSS) Training Initiative commenced in August 2005 as a direct result of the recommendations of the Quality and Safety Project. It will contribute to improving capacity and capability of the sector by increasing support worker competency, the quality and safety of service delivery, and will inform subsequent workforce development programmes.

Let me now return to the two national projects that I mentioned at the start:
·the NASC Development Programme, and
·the Intellectual Disability Residential Services Development project.

NASC Development Programme

The Needs Assessment and Service Co-ordination (NASC) Development Programme will make a significant contribution to ensuring consistency and high standards are achieved in the delivery of needs assessment and service co-ordination.

A Training Coordinator was appointed last month to draw up a Project Plan that will be implemented during the coming 12 months. The focus of the plan is:
·a 'National Induction Programme' that includes aspects that are generic to all NASCs
·the incorporation of Mâori and Pacific cultural components into training for the coming year, and
·dissemination of information on Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

'Socrates' - the new NASC IT system is moving forward and will be tested within a few NASCs later this year for implementation to all early in 2007. The co-operation between NASCs, DSD and the contractor has been excellent.

Planned NASC qualification

Work continues with the Community Support Services Industry Training Organisation (CSSITO) in developing an entry-level qualification for needs assessments and service coordination professionals. A draft set of standards will be put out for consultation before submission to NZQA for approval by the end of 2006.

The entry-level qualification will have potential linkages to other qualifications and could provide step-up opportunities for people such as support workers in the sector and encourage support workers to remain within the disability sector.

Intellectual Disability Residential Services Development Project

Another very important initiative by the Ministry will involve all intellectual disability service providers. The project commenced in April this year and it will correct service pricing inconsistencies by bringing all residential providers into a transparent pricing model as soon as possible. In addition, the project will introduce workforce development options for residential support workers in the intellectual disability sector by December 2007.

Funding increases for community residential providers

Since this Labour-led government came into office we have seen average annual increases sitting at around 6.4 percent for community residential services. Approximately 90 per cent of this expenditure relates to service for people with an intellectual disability. While the figures must be interpreted carefully, the funding increases cannot be solely accounted for by an increase in the number of people who are receiving service. There has been a net increase in funding for existing clients through both contract price increases and/or clients receiving more service.

Not only are funding levels increasing, but the methodology for applying the funding is also set to improve considerably.

Disability Allowance

In Budget 2006 we announced the investment of $60 million to enable people in residential services who qualify for a Disability Allowance, to apply for an allowance to cover their ongoing disability-related costs - for ongoing costs that are not covered by their service provider. This could include medical and pharmaceutical costs.

Conclusion

Disability support services have faced considerable pressure due to growth in demand for services and pricing pressures. While expectations continue to increase, there will be pressure for improved services. So it is helpful to reflect on what we have been doing and to regularly ask ourselves if we can do better as individual organisations and collectively as a sector.

There are no 'quick fix' solutions to the challenges that are faced by the disability sector. Therefore, I encourage providers to update the Ministry about new initiatives that encourage innovation.

Thank you for allowing me to talk about this Government's initiatives and commitment to supporting people with disabilities to live ordinary lives. I look forward to our work together to improve the quality of life for all New Zealanders who have an intellectual disability.

ENDS

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