Compassion is dead

I found Compassion: an obituary to be a very realistic and moving post, outlining the history of compassion (eg during the Blitz and Miners Strikes), and the growing selfishness that portrays those unable to work as burdens on society.

Dole scrounger. Benefits cheat. Stoke people’s fears that somebody somewhere is getting away with it, and keep their attention away from the fact that so many who are in genuine need are denied assistance. That fear has replaced compassion. Instead of caring and ensuring that nobody goes without sufficient means to live, we are constantly being told that the most important thing is that not a single person gets more than their entitlement.

Three upcoming events

Carers Week 2015 events – various locations, 11-17 October. My local ones sound great!

Free NDIS Community briefing with Dr Bruce Bonyhady AM, hosted by Montrose – Darra, 4 November.
A wonderful opportunity to hear from the leader and thinker behind the NDIS, Bruce Bonyhady AM.
In a relaxed atmosphere Mr Bonyhady will discuss:
Changes to the social service sector nationally
Impact the NDIS will have in Queensland
What this means for people with a disability.

Young Families Taking Charge, presented by CRU – Chermside, 10 November. This workshop is for families of young children with disability (0-8 years) who are interested in hearing about the NDIS and what they can do now to develop a vision and a plan for the future. We will talk about how families can be thoughtful about using paid supports to build a good life, how to maintain strong family and community connections, and where to start in being prepared and informed in the lead up to the NDIS.

Autism and SN Guides Qld and beyond

One of the incredibly resourceful ladies I’ve had the privilege of “meeting” through Facebook has put together two very indepth resource guides that she is keen for people to share wherever they would be useful.

A Resource Guide & Ideas for Therapists, Teachers, Parents and Carers working with people with Special Needs- covers a multitude of topics, and is well worth checking out.

The Queensland Autism Parents Handbook is 101 pages and is a comprehensive guide to autism services, support, tips and ideas for Qld. The book is most relevant to Qld but is a valuable source of info wherever you live.

ASD in Qld

My child has Autism Spectrum Disorder (information for Queensland families of children aged 9-17) is a succinct but thorough booklet with information about ASD, the diagnostic process, financial support, access to specialists and financial support for people in rural/remote areas, how to find therapists, services and support available in Queensland, school options, and transition from school. While some of the information is Queensland-specific, it is still useful as an overview to people in other states.

Upcoming events/courses

A few more local events are coming up in the Brisbane South/Ipswich area (apologies for the lateness in sharing these, we’ve had quite a bit going on!):

Baby Bridges – I’ve written a little about Baby Bridges and the Developing Childhood program previously, and a new 6 week class is starting Wed 22 July (Brisbane)

Sensory Movie Day– List of upcoming movies and dates, at multiple locations.

Browns Park A4 Flyer 2015– National Stress Down Day, free community event from Focal (Ipswich), with lots of activities, an NDIS info session etc.

NDIS Info sessions– ongoing, in multiple areas.

YFS also has NDIS info sessions available in multiple areas around Logan.

Counting the cost

Counting the cost (NDIS). An itemised list of one family’s financial outlays for their child with autism. While the items and individual amounts on my list differ slightly, my final figures are quite similar to hers.

She writes in support of the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme, which is being rolled out throughout Australia over the next few years), stating:

These costs can befall any family, at any time. None of us ask for it, but every one of us would spend it a million times over if we had it and we thought it would help our child.

I have heard some good reports about NDIS from parents in other states, so am looking forward to starting our planning and preparation in the near-ish future.

Parent Connect

Parent Connect has funding to assist families with children aged 0-6 who are developmentally delayed or have a disability, or older children aged 6+ who have a newly acquired or identified disability.  They can support a family for up to twelve months in many ways, including accessing an expedited private diagnosis, setting up some therapy options, linking to services and communities, learning about the child’s disability, and connecting with other families on a similar journey.  Parent Connect in Brisbane/Ipswich is run by Mission Australia.


Funding spreadsheet

I recently spent a while planning the various funding options I can use to pay for my children’s therapy this year, and decided to share a generic version of the spreadsheet I created.  Please note that this specifically references Australian Medicare plans, but could easily be adapted for similar programs in other countries.

Funding options (Excel spreadsheet)

To start with, you’ll need a calendar to type in every therapy appointment you have planned for this year.  I’ve put a line between each term, as I kinda like having a break during school holidays :).  Enter the therapists’ costs as well.

If you have private health insurance, check your level of cover to find out what rebate you receive for each therapy type, what the annual limits are, and when they reset.  The final four columns are for the amount remaining in each of the listed funding options.  If you had $200 remaining for Psych on 1st March, and your annual limits reset to $500 on 1st July – enter them both into the spreadsheet.  You will need to modify the formulae in those cells to be something like =500-G30 (assuming the first appt after 1st July is on row 30, the formula is the annual limit less the amount you’re claiming for this session, which would be in column G- the PH Psych column; the equals sign at the beginning tells Excel that it’s a formula to be calculated, not just text).

If you still have Fahcsia funding remaining (the $12,000 before age 7), enter the amount remaining in column N, in the row of the last date shown on your statement.

That’s all the initial setup.

Next is to consider which funding options to use when.  Quick overview:

  • HCWA is the 20 paediatrician-referred sessions with allied health professionals, to be used before the child reaches 15 years of age.  Generally it’s better to delay using these until the Fahcsia funding is completed, however children can’t receive funding from both Fahcsia/HCWA and NDIS- so you might want to plan to use your HCWA sessions before registering your child for NDIS.
  • An EPC (Enhanced Primary Care plan, now known as a Chronic Disease Management plan) can be written up by a GP for five Medicare-rebated allied health sessions per calendar year.
  • A Mental Health Care Plan (MHP) is a GP-referral to a psychologist or an OT with mental health training, for ten sessions per calendar year.  Autism isn’t sufficient for this referral, but several conditions often associated with it (eg anxiety, depression, OCD etc) are.

I have generally found that I receive a rebate from Medicare in the region of $75 per session for any of the above three plans.

Now that you have numbers and dates – start trialling different options to see what gives you the least Out of Pocket (OOP) expenses.  Private Health and Fachsia can be used pay for the same appointment; none of the others can be used together.

Then do it all again on the following sheet for your next child :).

One final word- I designed the spreadsheet to be as generic as possible, so if something isn’t relevant to you, please hide it rather than delete it, as deleting will mess up the formulae.  To hide a row/column, select the letter/number, right-click and select “hide” from the context menu.

Hope it’s helpful – happy to answer any questions.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)

PBS Safety Net means that after you’ve spent above a certain amount on PBS scripts, any remaining scripts for that calendar year are reduced (for general patients) or free (for concession card holders – pension/senior/health care/DVA).  A pharmacist can provide the necessary forms to register for PBS Safety Net.

Families can combine their expenditure to reach the PBS thresholds – though there are many different options for doing so, as outlined in these pages:

PBS medicines are subsidised by the Australian government.  Where two or more brands of the same medicine are listed under the PBS, the Australian government subsidises each brand up to the same amount – but the supplier may request a surcharge, which is called a brand surcharge.  If you choose the more expensive brand, that price difference (brand surcharge) does not count towards your PBS Safety Net.

There are also rules for how many repeats per prescription are covered by the PBS.  You can browse by the A-Z listing by generic name only, but the PBS Medicine Search box will accept either generic or brand name.

If your doctor writes a prescription exceeding the allowed number of repeats for that medicine, it is considered a private prescription, and is not subsidised by the PBS.  Pharmacists can dispense the medicine and the permitted number of repeats under the PBS, and cancel the remaining repeats, upon request.

Prescriptions that are not covered by the PBS are called private prescriptions, which are not subsidised at all, nor are they included in PBS Safety Net calculations.  Pharmacies may charge different prices for non-PBS medicines, so shop around to find the best price.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration classifies medicines in a scheduling system, where Schedules 2 and 3 are often called “over-the-counter” medicines, and Schedule 4 can only be purchased with a prescription, and includes most items on the PBS.  Some compounded medicines (eg liquid melatonin) are not covered by the PBS, but can be subsidised through some private health funds’ Extras cover – with a pharmacist’s signed receipt stating that the dispensed item is Schedule 4.

Many pharmacies have reward schemes available, and every little bit helps!