As we now embark on the holiday season, I am reminded of all the planning that is involved. Travel itineraries, special meals, gift giving, and social activities fill our busy schedules. Support planning for the life of someone with a disability is very similar. Personal and health related goals and the means of employing them are established. But how does one implement the strategies to reach their desired objectives?  

Before we tackle this critical question, it is important to discuss what areas of the person’s life need to be addressed in a support plan. For some, a life vision, dream, or desire form the foundation for developing their person-centered plan. The planning process is respectful of the individual and is implemented according to his or her goals. Family members and/or friends are selected to participate in providing support and assistance in planning and implementation. The individual chooses areas of life they desire for support and assistance and maintain control over their services and providers.  

Factors that need to be considered during the planning process are: living situation, current health status, service providers, delivery of services, vocational activities, activities of daily living (ADLs), level of control and responsibility, and risk management. The person achieves under the plan. A combination of health, medical, financial, and relational issues are addressed. Careful attention is made to ensure that all supports and measures are employed so that objectives are met.  

The four main categories of support planning are:  

1. Personal Assistance – A trusted friend or family member who assists with everyday       activities including dressing, bathing, eating, personal hygiene, and community outings. Caregiver relief is also included.  

2.Treatment and Training – Services that promote one’s ability to live at home and participate in the community with a degree of independence. These include: specialized health care, rehab services, training & education, and vocational services.  

3. Environment Modifications and Provisions – Supports, services or products that are essential for increased safety and independence. Examples include: transportation, assisted technology, equipment, home/vehicle modifications, and prescribed special diets.

4. Risk Management (Health & Safety) Plan – All specific vulnerabilities are addressed along with a safety plan to prevent or minimize the person’s risk of injury or exploitation. Family members and appropriate services providers each have a copy.

Implementing all elements of a support plan is crucial for accomplishing personal and health related goals. Many individuals with disability often find the process frustrating and overwhelming. Service providers need to be contacted and vetted. Researching community resources and programs is necessary to find the right fit. Caregivers need to be interviewed and trained on direct cares if no family member of friend can fulfill that role.

Budgeting for services is also required and can be quite complicated. There are several other factors that need to be taken into consideration besides those mentioned above. It may be prudent to seek a professional who is able to assist with writing and implementing the support plan.  

Hiring a support planner can alleviate much stress, anxiety and uncertainty. That person is able to coordinate all services in creative ways that will help an individual have more direction and stability in his or her life. Having someone to be an advocate is vital to ensure that the correct services and measures are in place. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families.