Individualised funding (IF) is a way to pay for disability support services for personal care and household management. IF allows the disabled person (or family/whanau members who can make decisions on their behalf) to manage the hours of support they need from which they are allocated for Home and Community Support Services. They can tailor the hours of support, types of support and employ various support workers to meet their needs.
IF can be used to purchase services provided by support workers (employees, contractors or organisations) and any costs relating to this service such as training and consumables. It does not cover specialized medical supplies, equipment, home renovations, leisure, recreation and personal or family costs. Money cannot be used for personal income, or to employ any spouse/partner or parent, or any one who lives with the disabled person.
To use IF, the person must be eligible to use disability support services funded by the Ministry of Health and be allocated support hours by their local Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) service. The NASC service will assess whether IF is suitable, and refer the person on to an IF Host Provider of their choice. The role of the IF Host is to agree on the level of support needed, and develop an Individual Service Plan – this is a plan which specifies how goals are being met. The Individual Service Plan is then implemented and services can be delivered. The support services are verified by the person receiving them and the IF Host. The IF Host then invoices the Ministry of Health who then send funds through to the IF Host who then pays the support services.
IF cannot be used to fund day or vocational services, rehabilitation services, supported living, respite or carer support (see below), residential services in Ministry contracted facilities, information and advisory services, child development services or behaviour support services. People who use IF may be eligible to use some of these services but they require funding separate from their IF.
Since 2014, respite can be used under Individualised Funding, known as IF-Respite which has a budget separate from the IF funds. To get IF-Respite people need to meet the Ministry of Health eligibility for Disability Support Services and have been allocated respite services by the NASC. Respite supports full time carers of the person with disability by providing them with temporary relief from their care-giving while still providing care and support for the person with disabilities. IF-Respite can be used for in-home respite, out-of-home respite provided by a host family, out-of-home respite provided by facility or out-of-home provided by a non-facility. Respite can be provided by a host family, a non-Ministry of Health contracted organisation as well as a Ministry of Health contracted provider. If respite has already been allocated under the current funding package, a person can ask their NASC provider to transfer this over to IF-Respite.
IF and IF-Respite aims to provide increased choice and control over how, and when support allocations are used, and the people and organisations that provide the support. It is flexible. For example, the hours in which support is available can be negotiated between the disabled person and the support workers and the type of support available. The only expectation is that the essential supports that the disabled person and the needs assessor have agreed upon are received.
IF Hosts charge at a rate which is determined by the Ministry and is determined by the size of the support package set out after the NASC assessment. One of the roles of the IF Host is to work with the disabled person to set up the IF and support them to understand and manage their responsibilities. The responsibilities include maintaining records which detail where the funding allocations have been used and complying with relevant Ministry policies. Additional responsibilities are associated with the employment of support workers, including managing staff and complying with relevant tax and employment laws and regulations, some of which may be outsourced to an IF Host (at an additional cost). Other roles of the IF Host are to invoice the Ministry of Health and pay the support workers or organisations. Furthermore, they are responsible for monitoring and reporting to the Ministry what services were used and the quality of these. They also facilitate networking between users of IF so they can share information and resources such as staff and staff training.
The additional roles which can be provided at a fee include a payroll aspect where the IF Host employs support workers chosen by the disabled person (and/or their family) and make payments to the support workers directly. They also manage ACC, tax and Kiwisaver obligations. Finally, the IF Host can also take on the role of recruitment, staff training and a bureau function, if required.