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The changing role of family support in the NDIS

This post focuses on NDIS family support, specifically:

  • How family can be involved as informal support for People with Disabilities (PWD).
  • How NDIS family support can be more sustainable than relying on external government funded supports.
  • Financial support for family member/s caring for someone living with disability.

Carer pension

Outside the NDIS, it is possible for a carer to apply for Carer Pension payments if they provide daily care for someone with severe disability, a medical condition, or who is frail/aged.

Carer Pensions are managed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) who acknowledges that it might be difficult for someone to work if they are a full-time carer of a PWD.

These payments range from $700-$1,400 a fortnight depending on if you are single or a couple caring for someone. This can often help to supplement the income of the carer in order to devote more time to caring for a family member with a disability.

Family as paid support workers

Family are generally regarded as unpaid informal support workers, this being seen as a reasonable expectation.

However, under exceptional circumstances, approval for a family member to receive payment can be granted for a strictly time-limited period due to a demonstrated prerequisite for it. The NDIS is very careful with the funding of family as support workers considering the rights of the PWD and the payment of a family member may:

  • restrict the person’s choice and control in the implementation of their supports;
  • decrease the person’s capacity to develop independence;
  • heighten the person’s vulnerability to abuse, neglect and exploitation;
  • constitute a perceived and/or actual conflict of interest between the person’s best interests and the income support for the family member;
  • result in limited respite for the family member in the support worker role; or
  • negatively impact on family relationships.

Home vs. Supported residences

In many cases, although a PWD is eligible to be put into Supported Disability Accommodation (SDA) or Supported Residential Services (SRS), the presence of the family may result in a preference to keep their relative with a disability at home.

In theory, this is often a better option for the PWD to be living with their family while they still can. However, the reality in getting the equal amount of funding for a PWD to be living at home might be more difficult compared to transitioning them to live in supported residences.

Large amount of funds are spent to support those living in SDAs and SRSs not to mention the service of the carers under Supported Independent Living (SIL) which needs to be funded when one is living in an SRS. Many families who still want to support their loved one within their own home might find it is more feasible financially as the government supports them living outside the home rather than in the home, this certainly is an issue.

Choice and control

Choice and control is not something that every person with a disability can assert for themselves. It comes to a difficult situation for coordination when the family takes over the decision making, deciding that they know best on behalf of the PWD.

Like any family, there are times where there can be clashes between family members. This is a grey area when it comes to certain PWD, especially those with highly complex needs, decreasing cognitive functioning and memory.

In cases when the PWD still has some capacity to decide for themselves, it is important that communication between the Support Coordinator and the PWD is encouraged to maintain the sense of choice and control with the participant.

You may also find these links helpful:

For Families and Carers

Plan Managers in Perspective

By | 2021-06-01T03:03:40+00:00 June 4th, 2019|NDIS|Comments Off on The changing role of family support in the NDIS
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About the Author:

Su Mei is an Art Therapist and an experienced Support Co-ordinator. She has helped many people implement their NDIS plans since the start of the roll out in the Outer East of Melbourne. She aims to use her growing knowledge of the NDIS to help people navigate their journey particularly in the mental health sector. She is currently an NDIS Capacity Building Coach with Capital Guardians, working on helping providers build better capacity with their clients.
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