The West Australian branch of National Disability Services hosted the Clinical and Allied Health Workforce Forum on 23 May to discuss allied health workforce readiness for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The NDIS promises significant opportunities for participants as well as their providers. However, early trials and speedy roll out is exposing equally significant vulnerabilities for both.
It is estimated that the allied health workforce involved in NDIS provision needs to double, from 90 000 to 180 000, to meet needs. Generally, allied health professionals in the disability sector are highly skilled in providing complex care in multidisciplinary teams and are less skilled at business administration of such activities.
However, the NDIS demands greater accountability for every dollar spent. Providers are challenged to estimate costs and provide care within pre-determined plans, which may need variation depending on the individual complexity and stability of health condition. Robust evidence to guide or standardise intervention in complex disability and rare conditions is in its infancy, making planning and costing a challenging exercise for all involved.
About 80 participants from across the service sector brainstormed ideas in response to prompts considering workforce capacity. Issues identified of particular interest to physiotherapists included the need for greater skills in business management; intervention skills specific to complex disability care; and standardised, meaningful data collection linked with research capacity to strengthen evidence of outcomes directly related to physiotherapy intervention.
It appears a closer link between therapists in the disability sector with therapists in the private and business sector would be helpful to both entities. There is an opportunity for those with private practice management expertise to host training events for disability sector therapists, and similarly for private practice business owners to upskill therapists in this sector in providing services to individuals with disabilities.
For further information and discussion, visit the NDS website
Vivienne Travlos, APAM