Celebrating my brother’s wedding earlier this year was a momentous occasion filled with love, joy, and lots of dancing. Especially for my sister Corinne who lives with complex dual diagnosis psychosocial disability. She loves to dance!
It was a joy watching her smile and bop along with all the other guests enjoying the night out.
For this particular event we had an extra wedding guest at our table, support worker Jen*.
My sister is quite fond of Jen. Jen has been involved with social and community participation activities outside of Corinne’s Supported Independent Living (SIL) home on other occasions.
Because Jen is familiar with my sister and her personality, tailored support was provided for the evening. She attended to my sister’s developing needs and supported her choices while enjoying the event.
A late arrival and early departure were likely for this particular day. Having support ensured that when the time was right there would be a quick exit with a short farewell, just as my sister wanted.
At another wedding, my sister had experienced a seizure on a balcony due to the overexertion, excitement, noise, and sheer fatigue of the day’s activities. Having a support person to shadow my sister for this event provided her with an experience she would be truly able to participate in, on her terms, without pressure or barriers.
A bite of the apple
CORE funding provided through some NDIS packages is a flexible support. It promotes choice and control for participants to explore opportunities, and participate in activities within the community outside of the home environment.
Under the Social and Community Participation funding, support workers can accompany participants to various activities that align with goals outlined in their NDIS plan.
These goals might include ‘Engage more fully and increase my social and community participation’ or ‘Assist me in maintaining and increasing independence’. A support worker could provide physical or emotional support to attend a concert, go on a holiday, or even attend TAFE.
An Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 report delivered statistics on participation and inclusion within our community of people living with various disabilities.
These statistics show everyday activities and the impacts this might have on social isolation. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 (32%) people aged 15 and over with disability have avoided situations because of their disability. This includes visiting family or friends (40%), and goes up to 44% for people with severe or profound disability.
Studies also estimate that people with psychosocial disability are the most likely group to avoid situations because of their disability. Results show 65% of people aged 15 and over avoided situations in the last year, compared with 25% with other disability (ABS 2016).
With the option to access Social and Community Participation through NDIS plans it would be great to see these statistics decrease. Addressing social isolation and reduced participation within our community will benefit everyone.
*Names have been changed for privacy and confidentiality.
References: The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 via the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Report 2019 – https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/disability/people-with-disability-in-australia/summary