Balancing paid and freely-given supports
For most of us, we have a wealth of different people in our lives who can help us out in natural and mutual ways. We can call on, or are offered, assistance from friends, acquaintances, neighbours, and so on. We also get to return such favours; such is the nature of interdependence and mutual regard. The Model of Citizenhood Support refers to this wealth as Social Capital.
It is an unfortunate fact that many people living with disability have such little Social Capital in their lives, that the only people around are family (if they're lucky enough to have family in their lives) and people who are paid to be there. This places a disproportionate reliance on families, which can result in greater struggle within the family, and which in turn can result in people asking for more paid supports in a person's life. The challenge here is that while conventional patterns of paid supports may be helpful so that people and families can get through their day, these paid supports do not necessarily happen in ways that help people build new relationships.
As a result the person's Social Capital remains low, which in turn places a disproportionate burden on families, and so the cycle continues.
So it's important to think beyond just paid supports, to explore ways to invest in Social Capital, to bring more people into a person's life because they want to be there, not because they are paid to be there.
To explore this idea further, take a look at the work of the excellent Community Resources Unit (CRU), who looked at this issue in one of their newsletters. Click here to read it.