Informal supports are defined as freely given assistance to people with disabilities from their parents, siblings, other family members, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, neighbors, and other people in their community. Individuals can get informal support by interacting with other people, participating in shared experiences with other people, and asking people for assistance.
Types of informal supports
Informal supports can include but are not limited to:
· emotional support
· role models
· physical assistance in participating a community event
· a ride to an event
· helping a person learn a new skill
· support in self-care
· home assistance
Informal supports can also be intentional like a Circle of Support. It is a group of people who come together to pay attention to the interest of someone living with a disability. It is important to note that the role of Circle of Support is a lookout and not to play the part of a carer. A facilitator, family member, friends, and others will have a session and the objective is to connect with each other and discuss how each of their roles poses a positive impact on the achievement of the goals of the individual living with a disability.
While we cannot undermine the crucial role of family members in the life of an individual with a disability , some participants cannot help but wonder can my family act as my support worker? The NDIA always put emphasis on granting funds on the premise that it should be reasonable and necessary and that it should always be related to your disability. The NDIA perceives the support of family to an individual as an integral part regardless if with or without a disability therefore it is not deemed reasonable and necessary. This support -‘informal supports ‘ are way different than that of the support given by a support worker. A support worker is a paid professional who can assist an individual in areas that an informal network cannot provide.
In some cases, the NDIA will only fund family members to provide services on the grounds of religious or cultural reasons. There are other supports that the NDIS can assist the family members like specialized training and counseling related to the disability of the individual.
Although it is true that the NDIA does not allow family members as paid support workers, it is good to know that families will still benefit from the training funded by the NDIS.
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