Improved links and more timely referrals between the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the wider health system are crucial to ensure that people living with disability have better access to palliative care, according to the CEO of Palliative Care Australia (PCA), Camilla Rowland.
Although the NDIS prioritises choice and control for people, it is not adequately responsive to the rapidly changing health needs of individuals, she stated.
Rowland pointed out that people may die while waiting to receive their NDIS package and any associated palliative care included. This is not just an NDIS issue, but a challenge for the entire healthcare system, which needs to allow for timely responses to ensure that human rights are respected and people with disabilities can make the most out of life and relationships.
In response, Palliative Care Australia has submitted 18 recommendations to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, aimed at increasing access to palliative care for all people living with disability.
These recommendations are based on the feedback and experience of members across Australia. For example, palliative care social workers have suggested that better integration and coordination across disability services, aged care, primary health, and acute care settings would lead to significant gains in palliative care provision. Continuity of care is critical to achieving better patient outcomes, particularly for people with disability, and it also drives efficiencies through the healthcare system itself.
According to Rowland, many of the issues raised in their submission connect with wider reforms and investments needed across healthcare, such as aged care, disabilities, Medicare and primary care. She also presented PCA’s May Budget Submission, which contains a number of costed initiatives that require funding as part of wider reforms linked to healthcare.
“I want to thank Commissioners for elevating the needs of people living with disability and acknowledge the work already underway at a Federal and State level to address the issues raised. There is more to be done and PCA looks forward to playing our part,” Rowland said.