Hospital to disability care coordination can solve crisis

Our new CEO weighs in on the issue of people with a disability getting stuck in hospitals and aged care homes.

September 21, 2022

Failure to coordinate people with disabilities moving from hospitals and nursing homes to appropriate disability care has been a decade long flaw of the NDIS.

Aruma CEO Dr Martin Laverty, a NDIA Board Director from the NDIS’s inception in 2013 until 2021, said poor transition from hospital to disability care can be fixed.

1,100 people with disabilities, who are medically fit to leave hospital, remain in medical care because of insufficient supply of available disability care places, Dr Laverty said.

Almost 3,500 people with disabilities aged below 65 are in residential aged care because they too can’t find appropriate disability care.

Almost a decade from the start of the NDIS, poor coordination of pathways from State hospitals or private aged care services to disability care needs urgent reform.

Dr Laverty said the Prime Minister’s national review of public hospital bed block provides opportunity to expand standby disability care capacity and coordination.

Before invention of the NDIS, State and Territory Governments worked with disability organisations to provide modest standby capacity, Dr Laverty said.

While never perfect, State and Territory departments supported disability organisations in helping people with disability move from hospital to disability care.

Some public hospitals talk regularly with disability service providers about accommodating people with disabilities. Other public hospitals struggle.

For young people in aged care, there are often no suitable disability care places available in their local area.

Enabling disability organisations to provide more standby capacity when needed, and bolstering coordination from hospital to care will ease the crisis.

Dr Laverty backed NDIS Minister Bill Shorten’s initiative to prioritise transition of people with disabilities from hospital to disability care, and has written to the Prime Minister’s Improving Care Pathways Taskforce proposing expanded NDIS standby services.

Aruma has immediate capacity in some regions to accommodate people with disabilities currently occupying public hospital beds.

With proper planning, more capacity in priority regions could be unlocked.

The cost of supporting a person with disabilities in hospital can be up to four times more than the cost of support in disability care.

More importantly, the human rights of people with a disability is better supported by providing appropriate support rather than hospital accommodation, Dr Laverty said.

Case study: From waiting to die to living the life he chooses – meet Alexei Schmidt. 

Aruma customer Alexei, based in Cowra NSW, got a whole new lease on life when he came to Aruma one year ago.

While enjoying some chocolate cake to celebrate his 64th birthday, Alexei reflects on the previous two years he spent in a nursing home, after his previous disability support home closed down.

It was pretty bad. It was hard to make friends and the staff didn’t help me how I needed them to, he says.

I couldn’t get proper help to shower, and I felt like I was just waiting to die in there.

Alexei’s family posted a desperate plea for help on Facebook. One of Aruma’s Accommodation & Respite Coordinators, Nastasia Grovenor, saw the post and contacted the family to let them know of the vacancy at our Cowra Supported Independent Living (SIL) home.

I was so grateful when I moved here with Aruma, Alexei said.

I was so happy to get people to care for me properly.

Alexei is very creative, regularly enjoying his hobbies including poetry, painting, and listening to music in his new home.