Jun 23, 2021

Too old for NDIS funding: 75-year-old woman sleeps in her wheelchair for 100 nights

Elderly woman in wheelchair

“Sleeping in my bed has become a rare luxury,” the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, told The Courier Mail.

“I have completely exhausted my personal savings gathered throughout my working life by paying for private overnight carers out of my own pocket.”

The woman’s plight is part of a new advertising campaign aimed at raising awareness about the 65 years of age eligibility cut-off for the government’s disability funding scheme, the NDIS.

“Disability doesn’t discriminate, but the government does,” is the campaign’s slogan.

Mark Townend is CEO of Spinal Life Australia, the organisation launching the campaign.

Townend explained to ABC Radio the campaign “Disability does not discriminate” is calling on the federal government to overturn 2013 legislation allowing discrimination based on age when it comes to NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) funding.

“We need the government to change the legislation so it doesn’t discriminate, no matter what the age,” Townend said.

He believes the discriminatory legislation is preventing as many as 30,000 Australians over the age of 65 from accessing the NDIS.

While My Aged Care might provide $50,000 for a person’s care per year, the NDIS can provide as much as $250,000 – My Aged Care is providing only around 20% of the funding.

“That’s what it takes to have a nurse or a carer turn up at your house and provide the care you need. It’s still a lot cheaper than an aged care facility and also a lot better for that person,” Townend explained.

“For those who need a carer seven days a week just to get the person out of bed, the My Aged Care Funding simply is not enough.”

Sometimes, the care of someone with a disability is left up to neighbours because there is no one else around. 

“If the neighbours can’t do it they’re left there lying in bed,” he said.

“This is happening in Australia at the moment and I don’t think the average Australian realises it.”

Of claims the NDIS is already too expensive, Townend believes reducing the system’s bureaucracy could lower the costs of delivering the system.

“Anything is possible in Australia. We can do it,” he said.

Any politician “with a conscience” must support changing the legislation, Townend told the ABC.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recommended that by 2024, the Disability Discrimination Commissioner and the Age Discrimination Commissioner should be required to report annually to parliament on the number of people aged 65 and over and living with a disability who are receiving aged care services.

“Their ability to access daily living supports and outcomes (including assistive technologies, aids and equipment) [should be] equivalent to those available under the National Disability Insurance Scheme,” their recommendation states.

“It’s on the government’s radar,” Townend believes.

“We have a safety net if you lose a job, you have a safety net for health … but not if you’re over 65 and have a disability.

“We’re a mature country, we’re a humane country. We’ve got to get past the financial argument,” he added. 

“It’s a small price to pay to ensure our population is looked after like they should be in a modern country.”

For more information visit www.disabilitydoesntdiscriminate.com.au.

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  1. The gross shame of this is that people are suffering right now, and government won’t (or claim they cannot afford to) alleviate such suffering due insufficient funds to do so.
    Contrast that with the expenditure of $90 BILLION on a small fleet of submarines for a threat that currently doesn’t exist – and may never exist!
    Funny how the war machines are always affordable, and almost always at the expense of the quality of life of our most vulnerable.
    We suffer a greater threat to our own welfare from our own leaders than any imaginary external threat.
    These are immoral times.

  2. There is absolutely no reason for this lady to be spending nights sleeping in a wheelchair!
    There is a perfectly good aged care system that she could utilise right now.

    With one phone call she could,or anyone else could have used her ACAT and been admitted to a care facility.

    This situation, sadly,comes down to choice, her choice to stay at home where services aren’t available.

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