What are networks of support?

A network is a committed group of people who develop friendships with a person who is isolated and vulnerable by reason of their disability. A personal network helps connect people to the community.  Each member of the network volunteers for a relationship with the focus person, and through their relationship can offer support in many ways.  Networks reduce reliance on paid service provision by involving the individual in freely-given relationships and connecting them to the community. Network members contribute to the quality of the individual’s life now, as well as being present in the future when family support is no longer available.

For each of us, our relationships support and sustain us.  If a person with a disability has limited opportunity or capacity to build relationships, PlanNET can step in to provide the assistance.

In preparation for establishing PlanNET we listened to many people, both in Australia and overseas, who have built networks of support around vulnerable people.  One such person is Janet Klees, based in Canada.  Janet has posted several of her presentations on YouTube.  To hear Janet speak about the importance of relationships and social interaction please click here .

What does PlanNET do to build and maintain networks?

Using the individual’s person centred plan as a starting point, a Network Facilitator will first get to know the person.  Considerable time will be spent exploring the person’s interests, current relationships and community connections.  Only then can they begin to find the right people to stand with the person.

Building a network is a process which involves:

  • Assistance to identify potential network members.
  • Contacting the identified people on a person’s behalf, to invite participation
  • Arranging and facilitating regular meetings for the network to come together
  • Fostering wholesome reciprocal relationships
  • Keeping the network focused toward with the person’s identified goals

Over time, the individual and the members of the network will change.  The Facilitator will then seek to replenish the network as its composition changes.  They will maintain the network around the focus person when the circumstances of family members change.

How can a personal network help?

While the network is built around the individual with a disability it also provides an amazing source of support for the primary carer and the family in that:

  • You don’t have to go it alone.
  • You can maintain your energy levels for longer.
  • You can draw on the ideas and solutions from the network
  • Different network members may offer different expertise from their roles in the community, e.g. financial planning, social and recreation ideas, health advice, contacts for employment or housing, etc.
  • Solutions are more community-focused and less reliant on paid or government support
  • It can help your support funding to go further if freely given support and respite are offered
  • It provides friendship and shared experiences between network members and the individual.
  • It continues to support your loved one when family members are unable to do so.

For more information on Networks, see FAQ