Academic journal article Australian Journal of Social Issues

What Is a Person-Centred Approach? Familiarity and Understanding of Individualised Funding Amongst Carers in New South Wales

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Social Issues

What Is a Person-Centred Approach? Familiarity and Understanding of Individualised Funding Amongst Carers in New South Wales

Article excerpt

Introduction

Person-centred approaches (PCAs) encourage acknowledgement of--and advocacy for--the human rights of people with a disability as set out by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability (UN 2006). Governmental bodies that have ratified the Convention recognise that people with a disability are individuals and should be entitled to choice and control over the services they receive. The disability field has therefore been experiencing a paradigm shift away from expert professional control towards individual choice, personal empowerment and community participation (Pedlar et al. 1999; Nelson et al. 2001; Lord & Hutchison 2003). Person-centred service systems aim to enable individuals, carers and families to arrange services to suit their own lives--the importance of which has been widely recognised (Lord & Hutchison 2003; Tisdall 2006; Arksey & Kemp 2008; Ottmann et al. 2009). Such approaches have been implemented internationally, most notably in the United Kingdom (UK), but also within Australia, including in the NSW disability sector.

The overarching feature of PCAs is a respectful, collaborative partnership between people with a disability and service providers, in which the place of the individual within the family and the community is valued (Sanderson 2000; NARI 2006). Including family and friends is central to the success of PCAs (Maudslay 2002). However, successful inclusion relies on providing carers, family members and friends with relevant information about service options (Dowling et al. 2006).

This paper specifically focuses on the perspectives of carers of people with a disability towards PCAs and individualised funding, where a carer is defined as any individual who provides unpaid care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability. This focus is due to the introduction of PCAs in the NSW disability sector.

The little empirical evidence that exists within the literature is largely supportive of PCAs (NARI 2006; Glendinning et al. 2009; Ottmann et al. 2009; Moran et al. 2012; Netten et al. 2012). Many people with a disability have reported positive outcomes from having greater control and choice over resources (Glendinning et al. 2008). However, as PCAs have only recently been formalised within policy directives, thorough empirical research regarding their effectiveness remains limited. In the same way, carers' current attitudes towards these changes are likely to be relatively uninformed.

PCAs in New South Wales

In keeping with national disability reforms, the NSW Government plans to provide people with a disability, their families and carers with increased control and choice in terms of the support services they receive (ADHC 2012). This approach to funding and service provision intends to address concerns raised by the Productivity Commission Inquiry (Productivity Commission 2011), which identified Australian disability services as fragmented, insufficient, and inequitable. Through the introduction of PCAs, the NSW disability service system will aim to address these concerns by allowing individuals, families and carers to exercise control over the services they receive, and to support individuals' participation in the community (ADHC 2012). An important aspect of this is the choice individuals have in terms of their personal control regarding organising services. That is, they will have the opportunity to manage funding packages personally, or choose to negotiate for this responsibility to be taken on by an external party (ADHC 2012). Infrastructure supports, including brokers or facilitators, have been found to be particularly useful resources in enabling people with disabilities and their carers to negotiate person-centred systems and initiate service provision (Lord 8c Hutchison 2003). Providing options regarding the degree of personal control over funding packages emphasises the person-centred nature of this policy approach. …

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