With so much talk over the last couple of years about people with a disability and their family having more ‘choice and control’ over the supports and services they receive there have been some new terms and concepts introduced like self-direction, self-managed and self-directed funding. Some people and organisations specifically define these words, but most commonly the terms are used interchangeably. This information is aimed at demystifying the concept of self-direction, and pointing you to where you can find more information.
What do we mean by self-direction?
Self-direction is a funding model that empowers people with a disability and their family or other networks by expanding their opportunity for choice and control over the support they receive. Simply put, self-direction, or self-directed funding, lets the funded person and their family decide how to use their funding to best meet their needs.
The Queensland context
In Queensland, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Disability Services) initiated a self-directed funding model in 2012. Prior to this, Disability Services provided funding to services, and people with a disability were referred to the services. The problem many people faced was that the supports offered by the service they were referred to may not have been the best way to meet that person’s individual needs.
Having access to an individualised funding approach, like self-direction is fundamental in establishing person centred approaches. By taking on a person centred framework, the government acknowledged that the person with the disability and their family were often the best placed to know what is needed to meet their needs. Hence self-directed funding options were made available.
Contrary to the traditional ways of funding services, self-directed funding enables the person with the disability and their family to direct where, when, how and on what their funding is spent.
In some cases, Disability Services holds the person’s funding and they make payments directly to the person’s bank account. This is referred to as ‘direct payments’.
Alternatively funding may be held by a host provider who assists the person and their family to manage their money. In both cases, the person gets to direct where, when, how and on what their funding is spent.
From passive to active participation
Self-direction means that by having choice and control over the supports and services used, the person with a disability and their family are no longer passive recipients of service.
At the bare minimum, the person and their family become active partners in the design and delivery of support. Best case is that the person and their family become the sole agent in directing their supports and services.
Disability Services has a range of information on what is currently available in Queensland.
In Control Australia has a lot of information and resources about Self Directed support, and it may be a good starting point to gain a deeper understanding.