NZDSN Covid-19 Update May 22nd

Kia ora NZDSN Members

This will be our last update with a focus on COVID-19. From next week we will look to fortnightly updates with a COVID 19 section, but also covering more business as usual activities. Some of these have been continuing in the background and its time we reported on progress as well as some new initiatives as we shift into a new financial year.

In this Update:

  • The 2020 Budget
  • COVID 19 Costs Reimbursement
  • Returning workforce guidelines
  • Updated Level 2 guidance for disabled people and their families
  • Regional Zoom meetings 
  • The 2020 Budget!

It is now a week since the budget was released and the news for the disability sector has taken a while to sink in. Our 2020 Sector Briefing estimated that disability funding was short by at least $214 million per year as at November 2019. The budget delivered approximately $230 million per year in additional funding over the next four years across Votes Health and MSD. In addition, it allocated $104 million in catch up funding for the current financial year in Vote Health. This removes the burden for the Ministry of having to focus on containing burgeoning deficits each year.

The reality that the budget delivered more than we had estimated was needed is a very unusual circumstance, but one we should all be very pleased with – and embrace! NZDSN, with the support of our members and others, have campaigned for this kind of budget outcome for several years and it is very pleasing to finally see such a moment arrive.  It means our focus can now turn to how this significant additional investment can be deployed to improve outcomes for disabled people and their families and enable providers to invest in the innovations and changes that will support this.  Some of the devil will no doubt be in the detail.

And now that we have “caught up” it will be important to “keep up” so that we don’t gradually slide backwards again over the coming years. 

Such significant additional investments by Government do not come about without the efforts of key Ministers and officials. We would like to acknowledge the commitment of Ministers Salesa and Sepuloni along with hard working DSS officials at the Ministry of Health and at the Ministry of Social Development. We took the opportunity to convey this in person at this week’s meeting with Minister Salesa.

Attached here to jog your memory is our 2020 Sector Briefing: 

COVID 19 Costs Reimbursement

There is a lot of work being done to finalise a template and process so reimbursement can get underway. A working group with provider and union representatives is meeting weekly with the Ministry to progress this. And it’s complicated because of the different decisions that providers took in a rapidly evolving environment with frequent policy changes. The focus is on a process that is not burdensome and with prompt payment once the process gets started.

Returning workforce guidelines

These are in the process of being finalised. The delay is unfortunate, but the guidelines will enable you to check what you are currently doing and make changes where needed going forward.

Updated Level 2 guidance for disabled people and their families

You will find this useful supporting information as we move through Alert level 2: 

Regional Zoom meetings

These have been highly valued by participants including the Thursday sessions with the regional host/coordinators where we get a consolidated national picture of developments. Most regions are in the process of shifting to fortnightly/monthly sessions and there appears to be an appetite to continue these as we emerge onto a post crisis world, including the national session. Attendance at these meetings has been much higher via zoom than the quarterly face to face network meetings, especially in the geographically larger regions. We are looking at how the new cycle of meetings pans out, where we might fit in a national session, possibly monthly, and come back to regional hosts with a plan!

Here is a consolidated summary of both this weeks and last week’s zoom sessions: 

Kia tu tahi tatou

The NZDSN Team