Supporting older adults with disability funding - Allied Health

Supporting Older Adults with Disability at End of Life

Just over half of Australians aged over 65 years old live with a disability, with almost 20% living with a profound or severe disability. The prevalence of disability among older adults in Australia is expected to increase in the coming years due to population aging.

Allied health professionals can use an enablement approach to work with people with disabilities to improve their health, wellness and capacity to participate in everyday life - at home or in residential aged care. Allied health practitioners can also diagnose health issues arising as a result of a disability, support the disabled person with strategies to manage the disability, and provide therapeutic care.

All services for people with disabilities aged <65yrs will be funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).  Some older people with disabilities are already able to access services under this Scheme (if on a plan before turning 65yrs) while others will continue to access services covered by states and territories. People with disabilities will continue to use Medicare for general health-related issues, that are not related to their disability.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is an Australian government program that provides funding and support for people with disabilities. Older adults who were receiving NDIS plans BEFORE they turned 65years old can continue to receive NDIS funding if they meet the eligibility criteria, and it meets their needs.

To receive NDIS funding, individuals need to go through an application process, which involves filling out a detailed application form and providing evidence of their disability. They will also need to undergo an assessment by a qualified health professional, who will determine the level of support they require.

Once approved, NDIS funding can be used to access a range of services and supports, including allied health services, assistive technology, home modifications, and community participation programs. The funding is individualized, which means it is tailored to each person's unique needs and goals.

NDIS funding can be self-managed, which involves taking full responsibility for managing the budget and arranging services and supports independently. Alternatively, individuals can use a plan manager or have the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) manage their funding.

To provide NDIS services, allied health professionals must become a registered provider which is an additional process to being registered with Medicare.

The Disability Support for Older Australians (DSOA) Program replaced the Commonwealth Continuity of Support (CoS) Programme on 1 July 2021. It provides support to vulnerable older people with disability who are not eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The DSOA Program is only open to existing CoS clients. To have been eligible for CoS, a person must have been an existing client of state-administered specialist disability services at the time the NDIS commenced in their region and either:

  • 65 years and over when the NDIS commenced in their region and assessed as ineligible for the NDIS
  • an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person aged 50 to 64 years when the NDIS commenced in their region and assessed as ineligible for the NDIS.

The DSOA Program provides services under an Individual Support Plan (ISP). Service coordinators can:

  • deliver support services directly to clients
  • subcontract other disability service providers to deliver care and services.

The services must:

  • relate to the client’s goals and planned outcomes, including consideration of the needs of the client’s carer, provide value for money and have planned review dates.

Services available under DSOA include:

  • psychosocial recovery coaching
  • therapy assistant
  • assessment recommendation therapy and/or training
  • dietitian consultation and diet plan development
  • exercise physiology
  • audiologist hearing services
  • delivery of health supports by various nursing professionals
  • case management.

If an individual is not eligible for the CoS program and is over 65 years old they may be eligible to receive assistance through Government funded aged care supports. Basic assistance at home is offered through the other funding, including the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) and higher-intensity support is available under the Home Care Packages program.

Page updated 18 April 2023