A window on Individualised Funding (IF)

Individualised funding (IF) is a way to pay for disability support services for personal care and household management.

IF can be used to:

  • purchase Household Management, Personal Care provided by support workers (employees, contracted personnel or organisations) and pay costs relating to the employment of support workers
  • purchase Respite through support workers or other opportunities where the full time carer is able to have a break (including school holiday programmes or facilities).

Refer to the Ministry of Heath for more information.

IF allows the disabled person (or family/whānau members who can make decisions on their behalf) to manage the hours of support they receive. They can tailor the hours of support, types of support and employ various support workers to meet their needs.

It does not cover specialised medical supplies, equipment, home renovations, leisure, recreation and personal or family costs.

To use IF, the person must be eligible to use disability support services funded by the Ministry of Health and be allocated support hours by their local Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) service.

The NASC service will assess whether IF is suitable, and refer the person on to an IF Host Provider of their choice. To understand the steps involved with individualised funding go to disability supports and services.

IF is based on successful relationships with:

  • schools, agencies, disability providers, and medical providers
  • your community
  • your neighbours
  • your extended family and friends
  • other people using IF

It is from these relationships you will find support, information, ideas, and prospective employees.

The following tips have been collated from families about their experiences …

When you are ready start slowly …

My advice to prospective families considering IF, or families just beginning their IF journey, don’t be daunted. Learn as you go.

In the beginning you will need to find space amongst the caring and coping to dream, vision and plan. Use IF funds to assist with thinking and planning – you need some time to think about how you can get the best use out of your IF resource.

Think about what is right for you, the time you have and the needs of your family member.

Within IF, you have a choice to manage the funds yourself, or use an agent to do payroll. By doing it yourself you have more money (miss out the ‘middle man) but there is more work involved.

Employ casual and short term employees, consider students and if it works for you, employment contracts can become more permanent with longer hours. Don’t underestimate Student Job Search.

The IF budget lasts for 12 months. You need to manage the IF budget carefully as funds don’t accumulate.  If you use more than the funds allocated (during the 12 months) then you have to pay this back and you will have less to manage in the next 12 months.

Go to a workshop about your legal responsibilities as an Employer. Know what the different contracts mean legally. Should you have any legal issues or questions, Community Law is a free legal service that operates nationwide.

Having a good relationship with the NASC is essential. Share examples (with NASC services) of people doing innovative things with IF. Ask “why can’t we try it this way…?”. Families need to keep sharing their stories with one another.

IF is a journey and your ideas and expectations will change and evolve

Think about how you can involve your disabled family member in the recruitment and interview process, regardless of the communication barriers that may sit there. Some disabled family members manage their own payroll and timesheet responsibilities.

Don’t under-estimate what a person can achieve given the right support, maturity and time.

Take risks with ideas. Some will work superbly and others will be binned but at least you tried…

Be alert to opportunities that arise that you would never have thought of yourself. Amazing people and connections and relationships happen.  Your job is to check out the risks and think about the safeguards.

Consider using Home-based education providers that are approved OSCAR providers for out of school care. Your disabled school aged child and all of their siblings are entitled to 20hrs of subsidised care if your family income fits within certain thresholds.

Quotes from whānau using IF …

“I was effectively able to pool my OSCAR subsidy for each of my 4 children and have a person of my choice in my own home for 20 hours per week topped up with a little IF funds”.

“Sometimes it can be difficult to be an employer and a parent. I found employing a Coordinator who oversaw the rosters, orientation, employment contracts, meetings and so forth made it easier for me.  I do the time sheets and any authorising and the Coordinator manages everything else. In larger centres, a person like this might be able to be shared between several families”.

“Because of the way we are funded with IF, I am able to pay my carers a higher hourly rate and increase that rate if I feel they are good workers. We pay our carers different rates, depending on their Job Description”.

“We have learned to do a Police Check. Ask if the applicant has any court appearances pending.  In the Letter of Offer, say continued employment is dependent on the person having a clean police record.  This can be shocking but some people lie”.

“I have split the funding between IF and independent living.  The independent living provider supports my daughter to be out of the house and in the community”.

“IF is used more for night-time, weekend, social and home support.  Because we employ a Coordinator, the Coordinator goes to the weekly staff meetings of the independent living provider. This ensures everyone is working together”.

“Because food is a major issue and was taking up a large amount of staff time (in shopping and preparing meals) we ended up using some of the IF funds to get food catered by a local company. This has made life so much easier for everyone especially our daughter”.

“Previously if you didn’t use all your carer hours weekly you would lose them. You could not carry hours over.  Using IF I am able to bank my hours and use them when I choose”.

“It has great flexibility, I use a lot more hours in the holidays. IF has made this possible”.

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