A window on Individualised Funding (IF) (tips based from families’ experiences of IF)
My advice to prospective families considering IF, or families just beginning their IF journey, don’t be daunted. Learn as you go. IF is EASY.
In order to do IF, you need to do a Needs Assessment through your local Needs Assessment and Service Coordination service (NASC) and choose an IF Host.
Successful 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.
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 – how you can get the best use out of your IF resource.
When you are ready start slowly.
Having a good relationship with the NASC is essential.
Families need to keep sharing their stories with one another.
Share examples (with NASC services) of people doing innovative things with IF. Ask “why can’t we try it this way…?”.
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.
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.
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. Think about what is right for you, the time you have and the needs of your family member.
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 authorizing and the Coordinator manages everything eles. In larger centers, a person like this might be able to be shared between several families.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 disabiled family members are now managing 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. Magic happens.
Don’t under estimate extended family, especially for respite. Use IF funding to reimburse their travel costs related to respite.
Consider using Homebased 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. 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
Flexible respite is still tricky, especially as children get older and equipment and care becomes more complex such as requiring hospital beds. Some combinations are worth considering.
Holidays and Planned Breaks. Talk with your IF Coach about how you can use IF when you go on holiday, or when you take a break away from home.
Shared care. If the allocation of carer support days are insufficient to meet the needs of yourself and family Shared Care with extended family or a trusted friend could be an option for say 72 days per year. Payment to the shared carer varies depending on the agency used – but up to around $76/day.
EIF (Enhanced Individualised Funding)- when the needs of the young person becomes more demanding as they get older and $76/day seems insufficient, EIF could be helpful. This is when your respite funding allocation is combined with your IF funding at often a greater amount than $76/day. This may also allow you to purchase equipment necessary to provide respite such as a hospital bed or safety rail/ramps
*Currently you have to live in the Eastern and Western Bay of Plenty to be eligible for EIF.
Agency Respite care. Provider agencies with specialised staff and equipment may become necessary. Flexibility becomes difficult and respite will need to be planned sometimes months in advance.
Live in support such as au pairs/nannies could also be an option for flexible care and or respite. Rent or board is subsidised in exchange for care plus an IF ‘top up’
The possibilities with IF are endless…. If plan A doesn’t work…. Plan B…. C….X…….Y