Older people with disability accessing direct cash budgets under state-run disability schemes have commenced the transition to a national model.

The transition to the Commonwealth’s Continuity of Support (CoS) program for seniors with disability who have been accessing direct cash budgets under state disability schemes began on 1 January this year, with those in NSW and South Australia joining first.

Community Options Australia, a not-for-profit specialising in case management and assessment, was appointed by the Department of Health in October to deliver the direct funding model under the CoS program.

The department estimates 120 clients nationally will be supported under the direct funding model.

The Commonwealth established the CoS program to continue the supports that were provided through state specialist disability schemes. As a grandfathering scheme, it will cease once all existing clients exit the program.

The broader CoS program started a phased rollout in December 2016 and is expected to support around 8,500 seniors with disability, who were ineligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. In addition to the direct funding packages the program provides intermediary and provider-managed packages as well as block funding for community supports and accommodation.

The direct funding model is the first national program of payments to seniors with disability in Australia.

Self-managing budgets

As with the state disability programs, the clients will continue to manage their budgets and purchase services through a direct payment into a nominated bank account.

Community Options Australia’s executive director Jane Crowe said the clients aged over 65 had been self-managing their individual package for some time and represented a unique client cohort.

Eligible individuals in Victoria will be next to transition to the program on 1 April, followed by Queensland, the Northern Territory and Tasmania later this year and Western Australia in 2019, she told Community Care Review.

Ms Crowe said her organisation had been visiting clients to sign service agreements, outline roles and responsibilities and support them to move to the Commonwealth funding arrangements.

For many clients, goal setting, which is a key feature of the national program, is a new concept, she said.

From a technology perspective, the organisation has also been working with seniors to help them with budget management through the use of its software.

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