Associate Professor Caroline Ellison1
1University of SA, Adelaide, Australia
Research conducted by Flinders Uni in 2018, funded by the Dept. of Social Services, aimed to identify and articulate the critical elements in agency culture, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that support the effective sharing of power with people with disability and families, through exploring the experience of Self-directed Support as compared with more traditional agency recruitment and supervision practices.
The research used qualitative research processes to gain a rich and deep understanding of the lived experiences of individuals living with disability, their families and those providing support with a family leadership and self-directed support model. Surveys were used to measure respondents’ perceived and reported levels of empowerment, satisfaction and control. 13 online surveys were completed by people with disability (primarily intellectual disability); 12 were completed by family and friends of people supported by CLP; and 35 surveys were completed by CLP Support Workers. Face to face, in depth follow up interviews were also conducted with 4 people with intellectual disability, 3 family members, and 3 CLP Support Workers.
The research affirmed the family led model through demonstrating positive outcomes as reported by people supported, families and workers. It clarified the underpinning culture necessary for such a model to succeed which derives from a fundamental belief in the capacity of people with disability and families to lead their own support. Individuals and families report increased self-confidence to direct their workers and move toward realising their individual goals and vision. Workers value the opportunity of working within a self-directed model, express increased job satisfaction and retention rates are improved.
The project affirmed the value of self-directed support as a way to build the capacity of people with disability and their families to exercise meaningful choice and control. It clarified the need for an embedded agency culture that sees workers in ‘right relationship’ with people with disability and their families.
Assoc Professor Caroline Ellison is currently Crossing the Horizon Professor of Aging and Disability at Uni SA and an Adjunct Professor at Flinders Uni. Caroline has practice, policy and research interests around International development, gender and social inclusion, as well as a focus on capacity building and leadership. Caroline was the Inaugural Winner of the Developmental Educators Australia 2011 Dot Mills Award for outstanding contribution to the profession.