Residential Services are good for the disability sector, and they are not going anywhere anytime soon, but does a person receiving funding for their support needs really have an active voice in the decisions that are made?
The majority of Residential Services run under the system that has existed in determining disability supports for a long time now.
Service Providers take a large portion of the persons Supported Living Payment per week, and the Ministry of Health pays the remaining costs that a person has to pay to live in a Residential Service.
That Ministry of Health contribution is decided before a person enters said Residential Service, through a Needs Assessment that is completed before a Service Provider is even in the picture.
This means that the money being paid to the Service Provider on behalf of the person living with a disability should be used for their care and support needs only.
But does this happen in the way it is meant to?
A serious question mark looms over how much of a person’s allotted number of support hours per day is actually used in residential services.
In a fortnight where the most number of hours a Support Worker typically works is 80, how can a Residential Service with up to five people living in it, who are all of high needs, be running to a standard where each person is receiving their own personal support to their full entitlement per day?
The Real Michael Pulman understands that a person living with a disability that is deemed to require a very high level of support can, in some cases, be funded well over $100,000 per year by the Ministry of Health.
This figure is almost triple the annual salary of the average Support Worker who is employed by a Service Provider.
It isn’t the fault of the Support Workers working in these Residential Services, or even that of the Service Providers either, but a lot of a disabled persons one-on-one support entitlement is being lost because there are too many people living in one Residential Service and not enough time in the day to fulfil all the support needs.
For a person being funded well over $100,000 per year by the Ministry of Health. This, in a lot of cases, still doesn’t cater for 24-hour, round-the-clock care for a person living with a disability. Only when the person enters a Residential Service with other people of similar needs and similar funding does this constant level of support occur.
So why not just have more Residential Services and smaller houses?
That doesn’t work either due to a serious lack of fully accessible housing and a big shortage of Support Workers in the industry.
Perhaps, is there more communication needed between Service Providers and the people they support?
A profit has to be made, at the end of the day, Residential Services are a business, and some people believe they are very lucrative.