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April 8 - Blog

Approximate reading time: 3 minutes

I need to start this blog with a deep apology. I have been very remiss in failing to get updates to you over the past few weeks. The day to day amount of work has got in the way, but I am back on track now.

It has been six months now since disabled people and families have begun to engage with Mana Whaikaha. While there is no doubt there continue to be teething problems and some chunkiness still in the system, it is important that we do not let these inevitable challenges change the focus on the good things Mana Whaikaha is making possible.

In reflecting on where the most difference is being seen, I think we have three key areas of impact; personal budgets; beginning early and a collaborative approach. I want to take this opportunity to give some examples of how these three areas are impacting on the lives and opportunities available to people.

Personal Budgets

A very powerful example of the difference that personal budgets make can be found with families of young children. We are now working with a number of families who had stopped engaging with the NASC system, or who continued to be in receipt of a Carer Support package but found they were unable to use the hours. This is because the process to access this support was too complex and they struggled to find carers to meet their needs.

For these families now being able to move that exact same funding into a Personal Budget, they have more options about who is best placed to give them a break and what that arrangement looks like, without the complexity that was a feature of the previous approach. Families are also finding that using this funding to purchase items such as sensory toys, support their children to pursue their passions in the mainstream and to engage in outdoor activities. As a result of this, the family’s need for breaks is reducing and their children are engaging in their interests alongside peers and growing critical social networks.

Beginning Early

The opportunity of being able to invest early to support families, for example, to access private Speech-Language and Occupational Therapy, ensures young children and their families are getting the best opportunity to increase the child’s independence over time. With the early investment, we are finding we are able to avoid a long waiting time for therapeutic intervention within the public system. This takes a lot of stress and anxiety from families and ensures that young children do not lose vital development time. In addition, this approach is further assisting families to develop the skills and confidence they need to continue the therapeutic work in the home and ordinary places of life for the child. This will have enormous benefit for the family over time as they move forward with greater confidence in their role in ensuring the future potential and life opportunities for their sons and daughters

Working in Collaboration with Disabled People and Families

Mana Whaikaha is now engaging with families who have felt in the past that they have not been able to work with the previous model.

By supporting these families to engage with a Connector and not focusing on assessment, what the child cannot do, what they will never be capable of, but on really working with families on the question of ‘What do you really want for your child and their future?’ For the first time families are beginning to see that not only can they have some confidence in pursuing hope for their child’s lives, but are seeing a way for themselves to re-engage in their own lives, work and life opportunities they felt were on hold indefinitely. Should these women return to the workforce, the benefit of this would far outweigh the investment of working with a Connector. This is a very important feature of the new system as it is about recognising we need to focus on a good life for the family and what resources we have available to support that.