Next steps in funded family care

  • Tony Ryall

The Government has been working with people from the disability and carers’ community on key parts of implementing its $92 million policy of paying some family members to care for disabled people, Health Minister Tony Ryall says.

“New Zealand will be only the third country in the world to pay a wage to some family members who care for their adult disabled children,” Mr Ryall says.

“The Ministry has worked with representatives of the disability and carer communities to draft plain language funding rules. A ‘Section 88 Notice’ sets out the terms and conditions for payment under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act, and will be published shortly.

“Advice and guidance materials are being developed to support eligible disabled adults deciding whether or not to apply for funded family care.

“The Ministry is also working with disability groups on appropriate quality and safety monitoring that will be needed for funded family care,” Mr Ryall says.

“This is important because it affects vulnerable people who may find it difficult to criticise the care provided by family members. We want to take this carefully to make sure we get it right.

“Information on how the scheme works and how people can be assessed for funded family care will be available in the next few weeks.”

It is expected the new policy will be operational on 1 October 2013, the date Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) organisations can begin assessing people for eligibility.

Mr Ryall says it will take some weeks before NASC organisations complete those assessments and eligible family members start to receive payment.

“The new policy being implemented under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Amendment Act is the Government’s solution to the Court of Appeal’s decision in Atkinson and others v Ministry of Health,” Mr Ryall says.

“It enables around 1,600 disabled adults who meet the high and very high needs eligibility criteria to pay resident family members to care for them at home for up to 40 hours a week – if that’s their choice. This policy does not apply to spouses or partners, or children under 18.”

“The Government will invest $92 million over the next four years to pay for this support package at an estimated cost of $23 million a year.

“More than $1 billion is spent by the Government each year on a wide range of disability services including household and community support services, residential care and carer and respite support.

“Disabled people receiving personal care and household management support provided by funded family carers will still have access to other assistance such as respite care and equipment – depending on their eligibility and assessed needs” Mr Ryall says.