The Ministry of Health is committed to working with the recommendations of an independent report it commissioned into individualised funding.
Almost 1400 people who receive home and community support services are choosing to take control of and use public funding to structure their own support arrangements, such as selecting or employing their own support workers.
They do this by working with Individualised Funding Host Providers, who assist with issues such as administration and payment for support services delivered.
The Ministry wishes to expand and enhance individualised funding, and in May of 2011 it commissioned Synergia to review the expansion of the programme to date.
That report is now available: Evaluation of Individualised Funding following the expansion to new Host Providers (PDF, 788 KB)
The Ministry’s formal response is included below.
Recommendations from the report
The report makes recommendations about the future enhancement of the programme, and emphasises there is an across-the-board view that individualised funding is the way of the future.
The recommendations to the Ministry include:
- a continued rollout of IF
- a review of what services can be utilised under IF
- regular reporting of IF data, and support for clients and providers on employment issues
- ensure that host providers and the NASCs (which work with disabled people to identify their needs) are supported and encouraged to work together
- training of support workers.
An important part of the Ministry response is trialling Enhanced Individualised Funding in parts of the Bay of Plenty (as part of the Demonstration of the New Model for Supporting Disabled People). This will allow disabled people to purchase a wider range of supports beyond home and community support services. If successful, it could be expanded nationally.
Other work by the Ministry has already begun addressing issues raised, including training, employment, and enhanced cooperation between providers and NASCs.
Summary of response to recommendations
The Ministry commissioned Synergia in May 2011 to undertake a wide-ranging evaluation of Individualised Funding (IF), since its expansion to new Host Providers in 2010.
The evaluation report considered how the increase in the number of IF Host Providers impacted on the uptake and utilisation of IF. The report also identified barriers and supports to improve access to IF.
The report findings and recommendations covered three key areas.
- Strategic development
- Financial systems
- Processes and training
The Ministry agrees with the recommendations within the evaluation report. The recommendations have been incorporated into the expansion of IF through the New Model for Supporting Disabled People.
1. IF strategic development
The evaluation report recommends the Ministry continue with the expansion of IF and develop an overarching IF framework. The expansion of IF should move beyond Home and Community Support Services so that IF is available for most people for most supports. The evaluation report also recommends the Ministry explore the option of reducing the number of IF Host Providers.
Response: The Ministry is increasing the availability and flexibility of IF by implementing Enhanced Individualised Funding (EIF) in the Western Bay of Plenty region as part of the New Model demonstration. Subject to successful evaluation and approval, we plan to implement EIF nationally. EIF means that people who are allocated funding can purchase most disability supports using new purchasing guidelines. The overarching IF framework is principle based and outcomes focused. The IF Service Specification is being updated. The roles and functions of Host Providers are being considered in the context of the New Model for Supporting Disabled People.
2. Financial systems
The evaluation report recommends the Ministry routinely analyse and report on utilisation and data trends. Also, that the Ministry reviews the IF Host Provider Funding framework to ensure sustainability, consistency and efficiency. The Ministry should provide guidance on support worker employment issues.
Response: The Ministry generates monthly reports on spend, geographical spread and number of IF clients and quarterly reports on utilisation against allocations. IF Host Providers also support people to ensure support allocations against utilisation are managed. The Ministry is considering the optimal number and configuration of IF Host Providers. The Ministry has worked closely with the Inland Revenue Department, the Accident Compensation Corporation, the Department of Labour and Unions to develop employment related information. The Ministry provided this information to all IF clients and IF Hosts Providers in a letter in April 2012.
3. Processes and training
The evaluation report recommended the Ministry support Needs Assessment and Service Co-ordination (NASC) organisations and IF Host Providers to work together to develop clear, integrated processes across the organisations. Also, that the Ministry explore options for all support workers to be trained to a basic level of competency in the provision of disability support services.
Response: The Ministry has provided training for NASCs on operational policy, and has met with IF Host Providers to improve the inter-agency processes.
The Ministry is also exploring broadening training initiatives to include employees of IF clients, and the development of employment management training for IF clients to support them to better understand their employer obligations.