Young people affected by MS in, or at risk of placement in residential aged care, should be supported to live in the community in their own homes with the care and supports they require.
In particular, young people with MS need an integrated housing and support model that is tailored to their needs and offers access to support and health services while keeping them connected to and within the community. Residential care should only be an option of absolutely last resort and if accessed, must be a temporary measure only until a return to the community can occur.
The NDIS promises to offer individual support packages to people who live in residential care and support to live in the community, but there is a critical shortage of places. David Bowen, NDIA Chief Executive Officer, admitted it was a challenge in a recent press article . He said, “We have across the county people still living in large residential institutions, in inappropriate locations, people still sharing rooms, who live in dormitory style (accommodation) in this day and age”. He remains hopeful that this is one of the things the NDIS will be able to address.
Earlier this year, the Senate conducted an inquiry into the Adequacy of existing residential care arrangements available for young people with severe physical, mental or intellectual disabilities in Australia. The Senate Committee made a number of excellent recommendations to the Australian Government, to the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS and to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). We are looking forward to hearing about the implementation of these recommendations.
It is estimated that there are well over 6,000 young Australians in residential aged care in Australia and according to a Monash University/Summer Foundation white paper from 2011, 13% of young people in nursing homes have MS.
So what do we want?
Firstly, no new admissions of young people into residential care!
Secondly, a commitment by the major parties to the provision of funding to support a program to implement integrated care pathways – the disability care and health care sectors need to be better joined up.
And thirdly, a commitment by all State Government disability systems to deliver their full suite of services to young people who remain in aged care settings while they wait for the NDIS to reach them.