Service Providers will require intensive support in order to ensure they are up to speed and ready to provide the best services as DSS Transformation is implemented.
Historically, most providers say that their key problem area has been the lack of funding injection. The cost of training staff, IT management, current and new service implementations, workshops, and community programs have caused providers to eat into their financial reserves in order to stay afloat.
More recently, the approach of how disabled people are supported has changed radically, shifting from a service user style to a customer-driven marketplace.
Providers aren’t equipped for that, nor did many count on it ever happening, despite what was said publically around the time of Enabling Good Lives being developed as a concept.
Challenges for Disability Support providers prior to DSS Transformation rollout
Providers now have to undergo a self assessment process and after that, they’ve also got to ensure that a clear and viable transition plan is developed. It’s expected that disabled people and their families will be engaged by providers throughout this entire process. Furthermore, providers are required to ensure that disabled people are consulted in not just some, but all aspects of their organisation, service development, and evaluation.
This will all be put into a plan that will be monitored and evaluated by the provider working group where the key focus will be put into evaluating how well providers put EGL principles into practice across their organisation, especially on the front-line.
But perhaps the bigger challenge for providers is going to be taking a look at themselves, and their viability in the new system. For example, there are 52 different providers in the MidCentral region alone, and 24 of those support less than nine people. How viable is their continuity in comparison to the five providers that support over 200 people? Yes, every person counts, but to what extent do these smaller providers remain necessary given where the market is headed?
“The Social Investment Model Has Not Delivered Results For Disabled People” – Inclusive NZ
Inclusive NZ aired several of their concerns regarding DSS Transformation last year, citing that the work was being undertaken in an environment of uncertainty and reduced capacity for providers.
Representing organisations that support over 8000 disabled people throughout the country, Inclusive NZ say that the potential success of the new system will be compromised due to “extremely short timeframes for implementation”. Furthermore, Inclusive NZ said that they have “grave concerns” about the financial viability of providers, citing under-investment in the disability sector over the course of the past 12-years. Inclusive NZ’s fear is that, due to an entirely market-driven funding environment, many providers will not be able to stay afloat. According to Inclusive NZ, the Social Investment Model has not delivered results for disabled people.
According to Inclusive NZ, back in 2014 a briefing to the incoming Minister for Disability Issues (Nicky Wagner) was provided. Inclusive NZ said that no action from that had been taken.
What happens between now and July 1st for Providers?
DSS Transformation is a steep learning curve for everyone involved, including disabled people. For providers, in order to remain as relevant as they once were, an attitude shift coupled with a serious overhaul of how services are delivered will be required.
CCS Disability Action CEO David Matthews noted some of this overhaul in a recent editorial for the organisations’ national newsletter. Matthews predicted that the organisation would have to cater for a “much wider group” than what is currently marketed and predicted that a much greater flexibility surrounding how clients are supported would be required.
The likely scenario moving forward will be that providers and disabled people come together and host a series of forums that utilise the learnings taken from EGL demonstration in the Waikato. Providers will want to hear about the benefits and challenges of a flexible support system that is entirely built around the needs of the individual.
Providers must move quickly and undergo self-assessment process with a fully open mind. It’s hard, though, for some providers to this entirely new way of developing services when much of the future funding guarantees sit with clients. More competition for the signature of disabled people isn’t a bad thing at all, and it’s one small step in the journey toward the disability community becoming an industry, not a sector. Competition is one of the key components of other industries, and whilst it doesn’t always lead to results for smaller organisations, providers need to keep in mind that their yearly funding may not come with Government contracts any longer.
Funding comes with the individual support requirements of disabled people. It’s the disabled people that call the shots from here on out. Providers can remain relevant in this new system, but they’ve got to change their ways first.