It is important to feel safe and comfortable with your supports, and for many people with disability, family and friends provide a safe and comfortable environment. Which is why it’s not surprising that NDIS participants often ask if their family or friends can step into a paid support role.
Formal and Informal Supports… what are they?
Support from family, friends, and your community is known as informal support (or unpaid support). Typically, you will be asked what kind of informal supports you receive from family, friends, and your community during your planning meeting or plan review meeting. This indicates to the Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or NDIA planner what your current informal supports are so they can determine the gaps in your support network that could be filled by formal (paid supports).
A formal support is a professional other than your family or friends who can provide paid supports and services to suit your needs. This could be a support worker who assists you with daily tasks such as getting in and out of bed, preparing meals, cleaning etc. or a service provider like a physiotherapist or speech pathologist.
Can my family member be paid to provide me with support?
Simply put – no. A family member cannot be paid using your NDIS funding to provide you with support. For a support to be funded it must be considered reasonable and necessary and be related to your disability. Support from family, friends, and your community usually doesn’t meet those criteria, as that type of support is something that, in most cases, is part of everyday life for people with or without disability.
Why don’t the NDIA allow family members to be paid supports?
We’ve already mentioned that any funding from the NDIA needs to be considered reasonable and necessary as well as be related to your disability (i.e., family support is typically provided whether you are someone with or without a disability). Some other key reasons a family member is unlikely to receive funding are because it can:
Restrict choice and control in the implementation of supports
Decrease capacity to develop independence
Increase vulnerability to abuse, neglect, and exploitation
Cause conflict of interest between the participants best interests and the income support for the family member
Result in limited respite for the family member who is in a support worker role
Negatively impact family relationships and/or dynamic
Are there any circumstances where a family member can be funded?
There are some very rare circumstances where the NDIS may approve a family member as a paid support, if there is no other option. In most cases, the NDIA will only fund family members to provide supports in exceptional circumstances. This may include situations where:
There is a risk of harm or neglect to the participant
There are religious or cultural reasons for funding a family member to provide supports
The participant has strong personal views, for example in relation to their privacy or dignity
The participant lives remotely and has no access to the supports and services they need
Having a family member or friend provide funded support would only be an option if all other options have been explored.
It is important to note that in the exceptional circumstance that the NDIA does approve a family or friend member to be a formal support, the same rules would apply depending on how your NDIS plan is managed. For example, if a person with disability was Agency Managed the person providing the support would need to be NDIS registered. This is not the case with Plan Management or Self-Management.
Read more about the benefits of working with an independent, professional Plan Manager. Alternatively, contact our friendly team on 1300 322 273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.