Autumn in Minnesota is a favorite season of many as nature displays its array of vibrant colors and smells. Hiking in the woods on diverse terrain is my favorite outdoor activity during this time. However, there have been instances when I become disoriented while thoroughly immersed in the experience. After a while, I end up on a trail that is both new and unfamiliar. I rely on my trusted compass to regain my sense of direction.  

Similarly, new challenges associated with the onset or progression of a disability can leave a person and their family confused and disoriented. They may feel overwhelmed, frustrated, confused or angry in the midst of turmoil. They ask questions like, “What direction should we now be taking?” or “Who can guide us back onto the right path?”

When faced with many different courses, they are usually uncertain about which one to follow. They need an accurate compass to points them in the right direction. Facing the complex challenges of disability requires an instrument to establish correct bearings while navigating the associated challenges and obstacles. One needs clarity of direction, strategy and focus. That tool is a support plan.  

An individualized support plan is a road map that provides guidance and direction on the unfamiliar terrain of disability. It is both person-centered and self-directed. It is designed with the purpose of implementing concrete measures and strategies that help an individual maintain a quality of life that is safe and stable as possible. The person and/or family choose appropriate services and providers that will provide maximum assistance along the journey. Key features of a support plan:
  1. Necessary supports and services. Some examples include: Personal Care Attendants (PCA) or other appropriate staffing, homemaking services, adaptive equipment, rehabilitative services, specialized programs.

  2. Individual cost of each support or service. Comparative costs are evaluated. A comprehensive budget is employed and adjusted when necessary.

  3. Credentials and qualifications of those providing supports and services. Vendors and professional caregivers are screened and vetted to minimize risk of exploitation.

  4. Strategies for implementation of supports and services. Written objectives, goals, action plans, and measurement of goals are clearly defined.        

  5. Health & Safety plan. All safety risks and vulnerabilities are identified with strategies to manage them.
We now see how comprehensive support planning benefits both the person with a disability and their caregivers. Most importantly, everyone has greater hope and peace of mind as they travel towards their desired destination.

My next newsletter will address the advantages of how employing a support plan helps the person accomplish their personal and health related objectives.