What promises to be of most interest ahead of the initial DSS System Transformation roll out in the MidCentral is the learnings taken from the past three years in the Waikato under the Enabling Good Lives demonstration and how that can be used to shape a better system.
The MidCentral region as a whole has around 1500 people using existing services and has never seen a new approach to how those services are delivered. Unlike in the Christchurch and Waikato demonstrations of Enabling Good Lives, potential users of the new system in the MidCentral won’t be limited to certain priority groups either, making for a completely open market where the entire ecosystem of how disability support is delivered will have changed.
It has been nearly three years since the EGL demonstration launched in the Waikato promising greater choice and control for disabled people and families. The third phase of evaluation has just begun and one of the big findings will be rates of participants in younger age brackets and the number of participants living in rural areas. 299 people are now actively participating in the demonstration. 18% of participants are aged under 10, and a further 10% between the ages of 10 – 14. Nearly half of the participants live outside of Hamilton, and in terms of ethnicity, 49% are Pakeha (NZ European), 33% Maori, and 6% Pacifica.
What Can MidCentral Learn From Waikato?
OPINION: With a far greater number of potential users, MidCentral needs to ensure that there are enough independent advocates and connectors to work alongside disabled people and families. In the Waikato, some connectors have well over 50 clients on their books, and feedback from some local users has suggested that connectors are slow in getting back with answers to questions and requests. The Waikato EGL team is quite small, with less than ten people working out of the Ministry of Social Development building, but this is by no means a bad thing.
Independent advocates, outside of the core service teams could go a huge way to easing the workload on everyone. As a current participant of the EGL demonstration, I’ve noticed that a lot of my time dealing with a connector is just conversation, not a hands-on, formal decision-making meeting. This approach takes the pressure off both me and the connector, and it’s always comfortable.
Similar, less formal arrangements are going to be a crucial part of creating a successful, vibrant, and enriching environment in the MidCentral.
Where Is System Transformation At?
According to official minutes taken from the February MidCentral Leadership Group meeting minutes; the Cabinet paper for the System Transformation went to Cabinet on March 26th. Notes around the complexity of the paper were put forward, citing that material needed to be clear and accurate. Cabinet will serve as the final decision-making body for the System Transformation project. Sacha O’Dea, Programme Lead for System Transformation, was scheduled to meet with Ministers Carmel Sepuloni (Disability Issues) and Julie Anne Genter (Associate Health) during this time. All feedback from the Virtual Testing Groups prior to the end of March was also taken into account.