- How the family can be involved as some of the People with Disabilities (PWD) informal supports.
- How family involvement can be more sustainable than relying on external government funded supports.
Carer pensionOutside the NDIS, it is possible for a carer to apply for Carer Pension payments for people who 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 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 workersFamily are generally unpaid and seen as their role as an unpaid informal support worker is seen as a reasonable expectation.
However, under exceptional circumstances, approval for a family member 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 residencesIn 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 around might prefer 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 ones 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 controlChoice 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.
For Families and Carers
Plan Managers in Perspective