How to access funding for care if under 65 years old

If you have a spinal cord injury that has been caused by an accident such as a fall, or diving into shallow water, or whilst playing sport, or your injury was a result of a medical condition, the cost of your hospital stay will be covered under the public health system (Medicare). This includes your stay in a public acute hospital as well as a public rehabilitation centre. To help you return home safely from hospital some people with spinal cord injury will require supports such as assistance to complete personal care. When you are in hospital there will be a team of people to assist you to identify and plan for what you need to get back home to your community.

If you are under 65 years of age and you need assistance to complete daily tasks such as showering and dressing, or getting out into your community, you may need to discuss with your social worker, how and where you can get this assistance from. This assistance is called attendant care and is provided by Disability Support Workers.

What do I need to do?[edit]

  1. The first thing you need to do is find out what Department of Human Service (DHS) region you live in.
  2. To access disability services you must then establish if you meet the eligibility requirements via a process called Target Group Assessment (TGA)
  3. Once you have been deemed eligible for services you will then complete an application to the Disability Support Register (DSR).

What is a Target Group Assessment?[edit]

Before you can complete an application to the Disability Support Register, you must first establish if you meet the eligibility requirements to access disability services. This requires you to contact the Department of Human Services Regional Intake and Response Team in the region that you live, and request Disability Services.

The intake and response team will send you Target Group Assessment (TGA) paperwork. They will request that you obtain a letter from your GP confirming what has caused your disability and will request information in the letter about the impact it has on your independence. You will also need to sign consent forms to allow DHS to make contact with your medical doctor or allied health team should they require further information.

Once you have lodged your TGA forms with your local region, DHS has up to 6 weeks to determine whether you meet the eligibility criteria for disability services. This is related to how disability is defined in the Disability Act 2006. This process alone will take time, but is important in assisting DHS to deliver a fair and efficient process that can respond to priority needs.

What is the Disability Support Register - DSR?[edit]

The Disability Support Register or DSR is a system used by the Department of Human Services (DHS) that records information about a person's current need for support so that when funds become available they can be allocated in a fair and transparent way. This could be individual supports to live in the community, access to shared supported accommodation or day programs. To register your need you are required to complete an application that outlines what disability services you require.

For people with a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) the type of support often requested is attendant care hours to assist them with their personal care and community access. People with a SCI can also request accommodation in a shared supported accommodation service that is funded by the Department of Human Services (DHS).

How do I complete a DSR application?[edit]

Whether you are an inpatient in hospital or living in the community, a social worker or case manager can assist you to complete a DSR application. This can be done in conjunction with your treating team. The DSR application will provide DHS with an outline of your situation and support needs that you have. If you live in the community and are not connected with local services, the intake worker at DHS may be able to assist you to complete a DSR.

In completing a DSR application you need to think about what supports you already have at home, this can include support that a family member or partner can provide. It is important to think about short and long term goals, including things like activities like returning to work or study.

The DSR application will include an indication of how many hours of attendant care you require each week. This figure is sometimes then expressed in a dollar amount as well. To find out more information about a DSR and to see what one looks like you can go to the DHS website

What happens next?[edit]

Once you have completed writing your DSR application and the consent is signed, it is then sent to the DSR team at DHS. This team use a panel of people made up from DHS staff and community members who look over the DSR. They ensure that the support being requested is adequate for your needs. They can also seek further clarification on aspects of your DSR to ensure that all community options have been explored. This panel meets fortnightly.

Once a DSR application is accepted by panel it is then endorsed and placed on the register until funding or vacancies become available. It is a good idea to keep periodically checking your DSR to ensure it still reflects your current needs. When a funding allocation becomes available, which may take over 12 months, you will then receive a letter informing you of the outcome of your request.

What is an Individual Support Package or ISP?[edit]

Individual Support Package or ISP is the name of the package that you have received when your DSR is funded. An ISP is funding that is assigned to an individual with a disability to achieve their goals. Your goal might be to have enough assistance with personal care so that you can participate in society or family life independently.

How do ISP's work?[edit]

When you are granted an ISP you are also linked in with a facilitator. This facilitator will help you to identify your goals and help you to decide how you want to manage your funding.

There are four options for how to manage your ISP:

  • Direct payments, you are responsible for the funding and this is paid into a dedicated bank account that you set up.
  • Financial intermediary, a service who will hold the ISP funding on behalf of the person with a disability and pay all the associated disability services.
  • Disability service provider, the funding goes directly to the service providing the disability service and they keep you informed on balance of funds.
  • Or a combination of the above.

For more detailed information please see the DHS website

What happens if my circumstances change?[edit]

If your circumstances change whilst you are waiting for your DSR to be funded, then you and your social worker will work to update the DSR to reflect this change. The DSR will then go through the endorsement step again. You will then receive a letter informing you of the outcome.

If you are on an ISP then you can talk to your facilitator or case manager about your change in needs, they can assist you to seek an increase in funding if required, this increase will be subject to availability of funds.