Submission cover sheet
- Name of organisation or individual making this submission
Questions on possible options
- Are the objects of the Boarding Houses Act 2012 still valid? Why or why not?
Since the implementation of the NDIS, the ‘special-needs/disability’ housing sector has become quite competitive as the NDIS has opened up many options to people with disabilities (including those with psychosocial disabilities), yet due to conflicting regulations between FACS and NDIS, ABHs have been restricted in their ability (and requirement in the current economic climate) to expand their services in order to remain viable businesses. The quality and suitability of the ABH’s PHYSICAL BUILDING PREMISES AND CAPACITY should continue to be monitored by FACS for ALL SPECIAL NEEDS/LOW COST ACCOMMODATION PROVIDERS to ensure a basic level of quality assurance is provided (with those currently operating under the radar being held accountable for their short-comings). Registered providers of NDIS services within that building should not be subject to additional controls under FACS. NDIS registered providers have invested heavily in being audited and are vigorously monitored for quality control in order to be compliant providers of NDIS services and should NOT be subject to further conflicting controls by FACS. The NDIS commission monitors the quality of staff, governance, administration services and accountability of services provided. FACS should have NO CONTROL or power over this federal monitoring system. FACS should only be monitoring the physical accommodation while NDIS is responsible for the services provided. They are NOT one and the same, even though they may be provided under the one ABH roof. The ‘licence’ of an assisted boarding house should act as a quality ‘tick-system’ for those considering this type of accommodation because of their disabilities, the licence should be seen as an assurance that the premises is being run to a certain quality standard according to FACS, instead, it is currently being used to control the business function, this could be considered restrictive and unlawful. ABHs serve a critical role in society, they provide TRUE LOW-COST ASSISTED accommodation at NO COST TO TAX PAYERS. Occupancy fees are capped and are well below the current market rental rates for single or shared room/groceries/24hr staffing available in the inner city area of Sydney. All additional individual-based services required by residents are extras to the Occupancy fees and therefore chargeable services. Recipients who required these services are generally funded by the NDIS because of their disabilities. ABH proprietors who have invested heavily and are totally capable of providing these services and who have been approved to provide these services should NOT be limited to providing these services to those who need them, however, according to representatives from FACS, this is exactly what is expected. It is a blockage to business survival and growth. Proprietors were informed in recent meetings with FACS and NDIS that “a registered NDIS provider who is also an ABH may be acting fraudulently”. There was no definition or clarification offered. This ‘threat’ has been thrown around quite recklessly to a number of ABH proprietors over the past 12 months, by FACS representatives and by biased NDIS planners who are heavily influenced by contacts at FACS. This is a personal and professional insult and bordering on defamation, it is complete operational discrimination against ABHs. How can a registered provider, scrutinised, monitored and audited (at enormous costs) in order to achieve registration, be in ‘breach’ for simply providing NDIS services they have been approved to provide? This threatening stance is outright bullying, it is unacceptable and must be stopped. The current Screening Tool, developed by FACS, is too complicated, cumbersome and too difficult to attain, waiting times are too long to get one and generally when a person with special needs is seeking accommodation such as what’s offered by an ABH, the time it takes to complete the Screening Tool assessment is too long and those residents generally go to unlicenced Boarding Houses once discharged from hospital, or go to premises that are totally unsuitable to their individual needs, usually due to time-restraints or desperation, and because of this often end up where they started, back in hospital, or on the streets – all at higher costs to the tax payers. This is ridiculous. The Screening Tool should be made redundant or at the very least, dramatically simplified with only the basic information required by an ABH, so that it can be completed in a day or two rather than weeks/months. This onerous process unfairly deters potential residents from living in an ABH, this is discriminatory to proprietors and to potential residents. At most, the Screening Tool should be used to ensure there is a general level of suitability for living in an ABH or any low cost/special needs accommodation – ie, general personal identity information, background checks, medical reports, diagnosis, contacts, medication charts, health care provider information, recommendations. However, it uses answers to questions such as a person’s ability to shower independently to determine whether they are suitable or screened in/out to live in an ABH. The invasive questioning in the current screening tool for entry into an ABH (which has gone from 11 threshold questions in 2010 to 50+ threshold questions in 2019, without any consultation with ABH proprietors) are questions more suited to the NDIS assessment process to determine a participant’s eligibility for funding, no matter where that resident chooses to live, NOT to determine whether the requirement for certain services make that person eligible to live in an ABH, that line of questioning is irrelevant in the new NDIS climate. ABHs that a run properly and meet quality standards (a requirement of holding the licence) serve a purpose in society for residents who have some level of independence but still have needs and requirements due to their disabilities – ABHs are a communal housing option with 24/7 support for those with very little external support. A housing option which provides all basic human necessities and freedom of choice and control while providing a ‘family’ environment. ABHs can be a wonderful place to live and thrive for suitable residents, but they are not being promoted as such and are not being supported to provide this service, rather, ABHs are seen in a negative light due to under-performing premises who are/were never properly monitored by FACS in the first place. ABHs provide a service to society by providing LOW COST accommodation options, with no additional dependence on the tax payer, however, numbers of ABHs are sadly diminishing due to the unnecessarily harsh restrictions of the latest BH Act review. This cannot continue as it will cause an enormous housing glut in society for vulnerable people, more so than we are already experiencing. It has become impossible for proprietors to meet both FACS (state based Boarding House Regulations Act) and NDIS (federal based NDIS Compliance and Regulations) concurrently. For example, FACS has strict rules such as ‘single room occupancy’ MUST be offered (note: it is as yet to be determined whether this forced isolation is actually beneficial to special-needs residents) while the NDIS promotes ‘choice and control’ – you can’t be forced to only offer one option (FACS) yet still be considered to give ‘choice and control’ (NDIS). Some regulations are similar, but as a whole, it is extremely difficult to adhere to both regulations simultaneously. It is almost impossible to find correct, up to date information on combining NDIS & ABH legislation, most information available is conflicting and confusing.
- Are there any types of premises which should be included in or excluded from the Act?
Any premises housing people with special needs should be included in the Act, HOWEVER, the Act should ONLY service the actual PREMISES and PHYSICAL CAPACITY regulations and compliance issues. Services provided to those people residing there, if they are provided through NDIS, should NOT be monitored or regulated by FACS as they are regulated by NDIS already, this is double-dipping and should be left to NDIS compliance requirements. In recent NDIS engagement meetings held with ABH proprietors during the first 6 months of 2019, there was a lot of incorrect information regarding what the DSP is supposed to be paying for in respect of residents of ABHs. It was suggested that, prior to NDIS, clients of ABHs were NOT funded for extra personal services they received. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. There was government block funding provided for services through a number of initiatives, including Active Linkage Initiative (ALI) services, Personal Care Services provided by Home Care, primary and secondary health services, ADHC caseworkers. Most, if not all, of these services have now ceased as the NDIS has taken over funding on a person-centred basis. It is NOT included as part of the recipient’s DSP, and these services are NOT included in the Occupancy fees payable for living in an ABH. It would simply not be feasible to provide these services without charge – to enforce this is discriminatory to all ABH businesses. Reciprocally, NO person on the DSP who is living in an ABH should be forced to rely solely on their DSP income for all their additional person-centred needs, which is what the NDIS was introduced to be funding. NDIS funding to ABH residents has been extremely low up until recently, bordering on neglect. Expecting DSP recipients to pay for their extra services that should be government funded, just because they live in an ABH, is discrimination against that individual, especially as each ABH resident was previously funded by government services, see Appendix 11 here: https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/578434/Assisted_Boarding_Houses_Authorisation_and_Monitoring_Manual_Sep13.pdf ALL low cost accommodation providers charge Occupancy Fees of about 75% of the DSP, regardless of their NDIS provider status, SIL homes included, yet ABH residents tend to receive much less NDIS funding than recipients in SIL group homes. In our experience, some ABH residents were barely able to afford 15 minutes of personal care assistance (on weekdays only) because of funding restrictions. This is denial of basic human rights for special-needs members of society.
- Should the exclusion that currently applies to specialist disability accommodation for the purposes of the NDIS be extended to other NDIS service types, such as where residents are in receipt of SIL packages?
THE BH Regulations should be on the PREMISES and the CAPACITY – NOT THE SERVICES for ALL low-cost special-needs accommodation to ensure there is a basic quality standard met. Why only focus on an ABHs physical compliance? There should be compliance across the board for LOW COST SPECIAL NEEDS accommodations, including SIL housing. Perhaps this should be a ‘DEPT OF HOUSING’ compliance rather than ‘FAMILY AND COMMUNITY SERVICES’?
- What are the benefits of the two tier system in NSW? How does it compare with systems in other jurisdictions? Please provide comments.
The system needs to further distinguish the difference between a licenced premises (ABH) and an unlicenced premises (GBH). We believe the title given to an ABH should be changed to ‘Licenced Assisted Living House’ to distinguish it from General Boarding Houses and remove the stigma that currently goes with the ABH title. The ‘Assisted Boarding House’ title should have never been given to our sector. It has generated negative connotations from the onset, as a group, we believe this was intentional. It has a negative impact not only on proprietors who work hard to maintain compliance (we do not deserve the disrespect the title is given), but it also works negatively towards staff, and most importantly, it works negatively towards residents by NDIS planners when assessing vulnerable residents with regard to their funding packages. This has been very obvious.
- Should anything be changed in, or added to, the list of information provided to the Commissioner?
Regarding the information that is required to be provided under the BH Regulation 2013, item: (viii) persons needing assistance with daily tasks and personal care These services are funded under the NDIS and therefore do not need to be specified to FACS, these services can be provided to that resident by any provider, including the proprietor if they are registered providers of NDIS services.
- Is the information on the public Register sufficient? Why or why not?
Yes, it’s sufficient.
- What other information could be added to, or removed from, the public Register?
There is adequate information provided on the register and all information should be removed when a BH has ceased operations.
- Should the Commissioner have the power to remove the details of a boarding house from the public Register under prescribed circumstances, if it has ceased to be used as a boarding house?
Yes, they should have the power to take them off the register.
- How could we improve the local regulation of boarding houses?
Unlicenced/General Boarding Houses are currently under-regulated and should be regulated with the same legislation as ABHs, or remove these regulations all together in favour of one standard across-the-board set of regulations.
- Should councils be required to let NSW Fair Trading know of enforcement action against boarding houses, so that it can be recorded in the Register?
NO. Only for a convicted criminal offence which is for public record.
- Are there any provisions of the Standard Occupancy Agreement which should be changed, or are any additional provisions required?
No. The ‘Occupancy Agreement’ is adequate, stating the Occupancy fee as a total. We don’t believe there needs to be a fee breakdown, just what the fee consists of, ie, room rate, groceries, 24 hour staffing, utilities. It should also state that individual person-based services required by the resident and provided under the NDIS shall be provided and charged as such under a Service Agreement. The Occupancy Fee can be paid via the DSP, privately or by any other means.
- Do you have any comments on the use of either the Standard Occupancy Agreement, or other occupancy agreements?
- How aware are you of the occupancy principles?
Very aware, they are read out to all new residents and they are given a copy to either keep or put in their file.
- Should the occupancy principles be handed separately to each resident when they enter a boarding house or is it enough to include them in the Occupancy Agreement?
They are currently provided to each new resident, however, we find they don’t want the extra paperwork.
- Should the occupancy principles be clearly displayed on a notice board in a common area in the boarding house?
- Are the occupancy principles useful and appropriate?
Yes, they are appropriate for the time being.
- Are the occupancy principles being complied with? If not, why not?
- Should any other information be provided to a resident when they move into a boarding house? For example, a fact sheet with information about access to outside services, such as dental, Housing NSW, casework psychologists.
We already provide all of this information on request, but usually a resident’s NDIS Support Coordinator will have all the information the participant requests.
- Should any information be provided to operators of boarding houses, for example, a fact sheet outlining their responsibilities?
We are provided with plenty of information and if we are licenced and compliant under FACS or NDIS, we must know our responsibilities already.
- Are the occupancy principle provisions for termination and notice working or are there any changes which should be made?
- Do the suggested notice periods in the Standard Occupancy Agreement constitute “reasonable notice” for terminating an agreement by either a proprietor or a resident? If not, why not?
- Should a proprietor be required to provide a reason for terminating an agreement? Why or why not?
No, it should not be mandatory, it is a private business and if a resident is not suited to the premises for whatever reason, it should be at the proprietor’s discretion whether or not to terminate an agreement. However, in most cases it would be beneficial to volunteer the information, especially if it has been an immediate termination with incident reports.
- Do the current provisions provide sufficient security for residents of boarding houses?
- How aware are you of the dispute resolution mechanisms available for house residents and proprietors?
Very aware from ABH policies and procedures, but also defined in the NDIS operating guidelines. Any additional processes would mean more unnecessary double dipping of information.
- How effective and appropriate are the current dispute resolution processes?
- Do you have any other suggestions to encourage the early resolution of boarding house disputes and to reduce the number of boarding house disputes?
Current system is sufficient.
- Is the definition of a “person with additional needs” clear? If not, why not?
Person living with a disability may be more appropriate.
- Does the definition need to be more detailed?
There is more damage done to the residents when they are labelled as living in an ‘Assisted Boarding House’ – this has negative connotations, therefore, once the title is changed to something more pleasant, such as ‘Licenced Assisted Living House’ – the definition of their additional needs or disability needs no further explanation. If a resident has NDIS funding, their additional needs should be meet through that scheme - the labelling is not in the spirit of person centredness.
- Should it make reference to the Disability Support Pension as an indicator that the person may have “additional needs”?
No, The Disability Support Pension (DSP) does not (and never did) define a person or their service payment within the ABH. At engagement meetings referred to earlier (between ABHs, FACs and NDIS) the NDIA Officer often referred to the DSP, ABH’s & BH Screening Tool as a point of reference. Eg. “If the participant comes into an ABH the support services are paid from the ABH fee structure”. This is totally incorrect information as Appendix 11 of the Assisted Boarding Houses Authorisation and Monitoring Manual shows. DSP and ABH Occupancy Fee Structure are separate. It was suggested that the DSP should cover every aspect of the services provided within that ABH. It doesn’t take a financial whiz to see that the ABH fee structure cannot sustain, nor could it ever sustain, the participants additional support needs. Occupancy fees for ABHs cover weekly rent for furnished rooms, groceries, “reasonable” cleaning, 24 hour staffing, maintenance and utilities. Nothing more. Occupancy fees do not and CANNOT cover any extra support services required by residents because of their disabilities. Prior to the introduction of the NDIS, NSW ADHC provided block funding for these additional supports via service providers (ALI, Homecare, Australian Unity etc) who were sent to ABH premises to provide these supports to the residents who required them. Those same services are still required by residents because of their disabilities, however, ADHC funding for these supports has been replaced by individual NDIS funding for the same supports and services. Those supports and services were never paid for through the residents’ DSP or the Occupancy fees paid to an ABH. Additionally, and very importantly (referring to the power-point document used in the meetings ABH presentation 2019), “there is no legislation either Social Services, Centrelink or the Boarding House Regulations that state that a participant living in an ABH can only purchase support services through their DSP”. This would be considered discrimination towards the DSP recipient and not in the spirit of NDIS’s choice and control. Our clientele have many ways of being paid not just via the (DSP). Not any-where in any of these legislations does it say that the Disability Support Pension (DSP), Centrelink New start payments, Veteran affairs payments, self-funded retires are required to pay for extra services out their funds. One thing that is evident & so clear to all proprietors is the clear prejudice of NSW BH Enforcement Team and all that are funded through them. Which has reflected onto the clients themselves, we as providers have seen this time and time again. Again, reinforced at one of the Sydney meetings, an ABH proprietor was told by a particular ABH Enforcement person (rather than working collaboratively with ABH proprietors to find best solutions for all involved) that the proprietor should consider closing down if ABH’s proprietor is not in agreeance with the Regulations. Defeatist.
- Should it be linked to, or make reference to, NDIS eligibility where those NDIS funded supports are to address a disability support need which is permanent, or likely to be permanent (i.e. not a one-off package for equipment or for where the support is time limited and is not intended to be permanent)?
No, irrelevant. NDIS services can be provided by NDIS Service provider of the residents choosing, no matter where they are living.
- Should it be made identical to the definition in Section 24 of the National Disability Insurance Act 2013 (with a provision to also include people with an age related disability as people aged 65 years and over are not eligible for the NDIS)?
Yes, continuity of supports for over 65 this is already in place. Until they enter an aged care facility. Residents should get the same funding packages regardless of age.
- Should the present two-tiered system of “assisted” and “general” boarding houses remain unchanged, and only “assisted boarding houses”, as presently defined, be allowed to accommodate a person with “additional needs” under the legislation? Why or why not?
As previously stated, the Assisted Boarding House tag/name should be changed to better reflect the compliance, quality standards and type of service/housing option offered, as compared to an ‘unlicenced boarding house’. We propose a new title of ‘Licenced Assisted Living House’. The current title has negative connotations and has seen residents of ABHs impacted negatively and discriminated against with regarding to NDIS funding. ABHs should be able to house people with a ‘disability’ or ‘impairment’ as defined in Box C under the NDIS especially where they are also an approved NDIS provider, and not just house ‘special/additional needs’ as defined in Box B under The Act. Unlicenced BHs should NOT be allowed to house anybody with a ‘disability’, ‘impairment’ or ‘special/additional need’ as they have not been approved or audited to do so and therefore are not compliant, regardless of their NDIS provider status. They are intended to service a different sector of society, not the disability sector.
- If you think that some general boarding houses should be allowed to accommodate some people with “additional needs” provided certain safeguards are met, what should these standards and safeguards entail?
General Boarding Houses (unlicenced) should NOT be allowed to accommodate anyone with a disability. There is a safeguard associated with being a licenced premises.
- Should the general boarding house be allowed to accommodate a person with “additional needs” but only if the person has a “package” of supports such as under the NDIS, or provided by NSW Health?
People with disabilities should be encouraged to live independently or in specialist accommodation such as ABHs, SIL homes or SDAs. However, they should not be discriminated against with regards to their NDIS funding, no matter where they choose to reside. General Boarding Houses should not be allowed to accommodate people with disabilities as there is no safeguard.
- If the general boarding house is allowed to accommodate people with “additional needs”, should a condition of that be that they are subject to certain requirements?
GBH should not be accommodating people with special/additional needs. There is no safeguard. An ABH has all the safeguards in place hence why it is licenced and different to a GBH.
- What other safeguards, if any, would be needed, and why?
An ABH has many safeguards in place for compliance and for the delivery of services it has been approved for, hence why it is licenced. If a GBH was subject to the same safeguards, why wouldn’t it be considered an ABH with the same restrictions and controls.
- What is the impact of specifying that only one person can be the applicant to be the licensee?
There should be a key representative nominated for periods when the licensee is unavailable. This should be interchangeable and updateable as often as circumstances require it.
- Should corporations and companies be excluded, given that a company can be purchased and sold, in order to prevent a buyer of a company which holds a licence of an assisted boarding house circumvent the requirement to apply for a licence?
No, they shouldn’t be excluded.
- Is 28 days adequate time for a licensee to give notice of closure and to allow for alternative accommodation for the residents to be secured?
- When a person is asked to answer questions, should the warning be simplified to state that the person must be advised that: (a) they have the right not to answer the question or produce documents only if they believe such answers or documents will be self-incriminating; and (b) if they do choose to say anything, anything they do say may be noted; and (c) if they say anything which is self-incriminating, it may be used against them in future legal or administrative proceedings?
In our experience, some Enforcement Officers have been very aggressive and usually on a power-trip. Yes, calm explanation of processes and their implications must be communicated. In general in the past, Enforcement Officers are seen as the enemy to ABH licensees, this needs to change, they should be encouraging ABHs to make corrections where needed and offer suggestions for improvement to help resolve matters before they become compliance issues. In the past we have been told to ‘shut shop’ if we don’t like the system. No dialogue for suggestions, no allowances for circumstances, no Australian spirit, no consideration for the number of residents that would be out on the streets if were to shut down (at taxpayer expense), nor for the number of staff who would lose their jobs. Just a shrug of indifference. The whole attitude of FACS enforcement officers needs an overhaul, they need to be compliant and be assessed for their own suitability for the job they are doing, just like ABH licensees. They are a very negative force in our sector.
- Is the current requirement that one person be specified as an “authorised service provider” adequate? Should the definition of “authorised service provider” be broadened to include any employees of a named organisation providing services to an assisted boarding house?
- Is the maximum number of 30 residents appropriate? Why or why not?
ABSOLUTELY NOT. How was this number reached? Was it per-premises based on the council-approved number of residents? If a property has the capacity and is approved by council to house (for example) 34 people or 40 people, why should that property be capped to 30? The cost of renting and running the premises is not less because there are fewer people allowed to live in it, but the income potential is radically debilitated. If the reverse were applied, where an ABH had only 10 double rooms, should they be allowed to accommodate 30 residents regardless, because that’s the rule, or would they be limited to their individual capacity? It makes NO sense and is totally ridiculous. This is outright discrimination because it’s a blanket rule that should not apply to every property, but should be individually assessed based on council-regulated capacities.
- Are the current arrangements adequate in meeting privacy needs of residents?
- Where two residents have decided to share a bedroom, should it be enforced that an additional room not less than 7.5 square metres be set aside for the exclusive use of those two residents only?
No. If a resident has requested to share a room, there cannot be another room always available, there is a high cost of having an empty room, especially with capped numbers. Our clients have a choice of a single room or a shared room, if/when circumstances change we try to accommodate as best we can to find a solution.
- Is the current requirement of 11 square metres adequate for a room that two residents choose to share?
Yes, it is more than adequate.
- Should there be a minimum size for the private or quiet room? If yes, what should this be?
A separate private or quiet room would only be required by sharing residents. Those in single rooms already have their own private rooms! For sharing residents, there would be no restriction to physical size of the private room, however, it should be able to accommodate minimum 3 people having a private meeting.
- Should a minimum size for a communal living space be specified? Why or why not? If yes, should this be based on the number of residents accommodated e.g. a specified number of square metres per resident?
Communal recreation areas are to be large enough for half the total number of residents to be in at one time. Communal dining rooms should be able to accommodate all residents.
- Are the current provisions of the Act in relation to young persons adequate? Why or why not?
Irrelevant to us.
- Is the current purpose of the Screening Tool still valid?
NOT IN ITS CURRENT FORMAT! It is way too cumbersome and open to misinterpretation. The original purpose of the Screening Tool was to assess a person’s (living with mental health or disability) suitability to reside in an ABH depending on their functional capacities. Initially, most genuine and professional ABH proprietors were in agreeance to the introduction of the Screening Tool and the relevance of it. It had a place and purpose in the industry at the time, before the introduction of the NDIS. Though still valid for a number of reasons due to the information it collects on potential entrants to an ABH, the Screening Tool needs to be reviewed and adjusted to best serve its original intention, it should have NOTHING to do with what additional personal services each resident may require and be funded for under the NDIS. ABHs now feel the screening tool is being used a ‘weapon’ to significantly restrict eligibility for ABH living. It is being used beyond its original intention and negatively impacting the ABH sector. It is discriminatory because SIL houses, providers of special needs accommodation and NDIS services, do not have use this process to get obtain clients referrals, only ABHs are subject to the tool in its current format. With the introduction of the NDIS in NSW, all questions in the Screening Tool referring to that person’s individual needs should be removed as these needs are assessed via the NDIS assessment process for funding. Service providers are required to go through a rigorous approval process as well. ABH proprietors have seen the boarding house screening tool be increasingly used as a ‘weapon’ to significantly restrict the participants entering an Assisted Boarding House. It is being unfairly used it beyond its original intention. The Screening Tool threshold questions are questions that, if answered incorrectly, will screen a person OUT of eligibility to enter an Assisted Boarding House, but not ineligible to enter an unlicensed Boarding House. Most Social Workers have reported that the difficulty and time it takes to get a screening tool assessment deters them so they send their clients to unlicenced boarding houses after being discharged from hospital – this generally creates an unfortunate vicious cycle for that person. The number of ‘threshold’ questions has been increasing since 2010, without any consultation with ABHs (this is unacceptable), each additional question increases the likelihood that the person will be deemed ineligible, even when the question pertains to a ‘service’ requirement only, which may be easily provided under an NDIS funded agreement. ABH proprietors should be notified and consulted each time the threshold questions are increased, by whom, with what authority and for what reason. The Screening Tool should NOT be used to limit any potential business options for ABHs through the NDIS. The ABH sector is in desperate need of an independent party who is NOT involved with FACs or the BH Enforcement team, who can assess these issues, inform ABH proprietors (without bias) of any alterations to key rules, regulations, amendments and decisions that impact the Screening Tool and the ABH structure. In any other business sector, this lack of information and lack of transparency would be considered unlawful.
- If an assisted boarding house resident, actual or proposed, has a package of supports which meets their needs, should he or she be considered eligible to live in an assisted boarding house regardless of their level of need? (For instance, if a person needed daily personal care but he or she had an NDIS package where he or she could purchase those supports, could this be delivered in an assisted boarding house?)
Yes, of course. The participant has the choice to have an external support worker from a different provider come in to help them OR a familiar in-house support worker. The choice is theirs. An ABH proprietor who is also a registered NDIS provider and is qualified to provide individualised services is able to provide services to anyone, in-house or externally. NDIS registered providers, regardless of ABH status, are able to offer participants in-house support services if the participant chooses those services from that provider. By not giving this choice and control to participants simply because they live in an ABH is discriminatory towards not only the participant but also the ABH proprietors.
- Are the current provisions of the Act adequate in relation to abuse and neglect?
- Should there be a clause in the Regulation which states that in a boarding house which is authorised to accommodate a person with additional needs, a receipt for any money received from, or on behalf of that person, must be issued to the person and a copy of all such receipts kept? This includes details of the purpose of the receipt of money or payment.
Anything charged for in addition to Occupancy Fees is always kept on record, though it is very rare that there are extra out-of-pocket expenses.
- Should there be a clause in the Regulation which specifically covers financial exploitation? If yes, given many residents of assisted boarding houses have difficulty managing their finances, how would “exploitation” be defined and differentiated from “assistance”?
As with any business, all records of financial transactions must be kept – in the case of ABH residents, records of any transactions outside of TAG transactions, Occupancy Fees and NDIS payments should be filed.
- If yes, should the clause also cover the management and delivery of the resident’s NDIS Plan?
No, this is already heavily monitored by the NDIS and associated monitoring services (The Commission, Support Coordinators and Plan Managers etc) and has nothing to do with FACS or the Act. This is clearly a service delivery section and should remain separate.
- Are the current provisions of the Act in relation to record keeping adequate?
- Should the records required to be kept by an assisted boarding house, and which are therefore available for inspection by a Department of Communities and Justice boarding house enforcement officer, be expanded to include: a) Occupancy Agreements? b) NDIS Plans and NDIS Service Agreements? c) Payments to a service provider under the NDIS Plan? d) Any other record or document?
a) Occupancy Agreements? Yes, already included. b) NDIS Plans and NDIS Service Agreements? Absolutely NOT. This is about services provided to the participants as registered provider, NOTHING to do with FACS. Administration and record-keeping is already monitored heavily by NDIS for this, safeguards in place by NDIS. There are also privacy and confidentiality considerations to take into account, not necessary for FACS involvement. c) Payments to a service provider under the NDIS Plan? Absolutely NOT. This is about services provided to the participants as registered provider, NOTHING to do with FACS. Administration and record-keeping is already monitored heavily by NDIS for this, safeguards in place by NDIS. There are also privacy and confidentiality considerations to take into account, not necessary for FACS involvement. d) Any other record or document? The ABH Enforcement team has access to everything to do with the ABH such as general documentation regarding compliance and licencing. FACS Enforcement Team should only be about the physical condition and capacity of the ABH and the assurance that compliance is being met, NOT the NDIS services offered to participants.