Disability Community Conversations – The Findings

In September and October 2019, the Ministry of Health’s Disability Directorate held twenty community conversations, and an online nationwide livestream with disabled people, families and whānau, carers and providers. For more about the consultation process click here.

These forums were opportunities to gather insights from the disability sector about the impact of disability supports and services. Feedback from the community conversations has been used to further shape the Directorate’s strategic plan for 2020 – 2025.

People shared a wide range of views and perspectives about disability supports and services.

Overall, people agreed with the draft strategic framework, but it was noted in every forum that the ‘devil is in the detail’ and the sector needs to see action from the Directorate before they can trust the commitment to build a sustainable disability system.

Seven key themes emerged from these conversations, this was the Disability Directorate’s findings:

Support, strengthen and promote the workforce, including family carers

People told us that we could do more to ensure that carers are safe when they’re working, and that they’re getting the training and development they need to enhance their careers and deliver meaningful services to people. This also includes supporting people who care for family members, and we were challenged to find ways to make sure that people have the development and training they need to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.

Enable flexibility for contracts, supports and services

Flexibility was a major theme across the whole country. This includes changing the way that we contract with providers to support innovation and flexibility to respond better to disabled people and their whānau. People also told us that there is a need to enable greater choice and control of supports and services for disabled people across the whole country.

Support families to be safe and healthy

People told us that a commitment to supporting families, such as siblings, partners and parents, could be reflected in the Directorate’s vision. We met many people who struggle day-to-day and simply don’t have the time or supports to look after themselves. People spoke about how important it is that they look after themselves so that they can look after others, but the reality is that for a lot of people this just isn’t possible.

Strive for equity by supporting more population groups

People want to see a commitment to improving services and outcomes for more population groups, such as Māori, Pasifika, Asian peoples and people from immigrant and refugee backgrounds. We agree and working with these communities to ensure that there’s equity across the system, is a focus for us.

Engage so everyone can have their say – and be actively involved

There was strong feedback to make our communications better, by having information accessible to everyone and hearing from us more often. People told us how important it is that we’re transparent and open – and that the sector is too. If we’re truly going to work together to build a sustainable system, then we need to have better relationships and an ongoing dialogue with the disability sector.

This also includes engaging with people who don’t have a voice, and we were asked how we can ensure that we’re representing everyone in the disability community. This is something that we’re exploring, but we need to hear from the sector about ways that we can reach and engage with people that we aren’t hearing from now.

A single-source-of-truth to help people navigate the system

People told us that knowing which agency delivers what support is a minefield. So, there’s an opportunity for us to work with other agencies to paint a clear and easy-to-understand picture of what disability supports and services are available to whom.

Explore opportunities for community navigators to help others

People spoke about the need for communities to wrap more support around disabled people and their whānau. We were encouraged to consider how we can support people in the community to help others navigate the complicated system.

For more information, visit the Ministry of Health website here

About Eve Williams

Eve Williams is the Content Developer and Social Media Administration for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.