You can call me Jack.
I have a spinal injury and am in a wheelchair. This means I have complex care requirements and pretty much need someone with me all day, every day. Despite my injury, I’m motivated to self-manage my care.
To me, self-managing has always been a journey. It has taught me – and continues to teach me many things about myself and other people.
Having the opportunity to self-manage my disability support has been a positive experience overall. However, when I started self-managing, information and resources available to assist people who wanted to go down this path were scarce.
If you’re thinking of self-managing, I’ve put together a few tips. At the end of this article, I’ll let you know the game-changer which has made things so much easier.
NDIS self-management: distribute responsibilities
I know it’s called self-managing, but you can’t do it alone, especially if you’re in a situation like mine. I’m lucky to be able to share the load of self-managing with my carers. We have our assigned weekly tasks.
I look after my:
- Rostering of supports and services
- Financial responsibilities (including budgets, accounting, wages and paying bills)
- Support workers (including daily tasks, recruitment, organising training and staff meetings and appraisals).
I also pay one of my support workers a few extra hours a week to be my care coordinator. They help me with admin tasks such as:
- Writing memos
- Doing computer work
- Being another point of contact for staff besides myself
This person is on-call for my staff to contact if they are sick, so they can find someone to cover their shift.
My support coordinator is also a good person for me to bounce ideas off.
NDIS self-management: Be detailed on tasks
Everyone in life has their daily household chores like cooking, cleaning, washing and the like. I’m unable to physically do much besides use my computer, talk and drive my wheelchair, so I probably spend an hour or two every day organising my chores on my computer.
You have to make sure you allocate time each week, so the tasks don’t pile up. After five years, this has become part of my weekly routine and I’m used to it now. The more organised you are ahead of time, the more likely your carers will be able to get the right jobs done.
NDIS self-management: Build your support network
When you’re self-managing, you need people around you who care in a different way, and who you can turn to for emotional support.
I find it’s good to have another family member or close friend who is not directly involved in my day-to-day support to discuss things with. Sometimes you’re having a bad day, or a worker has done something that has annoyed you. In these circumstances, it’s good to have someone to vent to.
How to be a good ‘boss’
The worst thing about self-management for me is firing staff (which has only happened three or four times), and after interviews calling people to tell them they haven’t been successful.
In dealing with people, I’m very much conscious of treating them how I wish to be treated. Whether you have a disability or not, we all have good days and bad days, and I always try to keep that in mind.
Occasionally I need to be serious. When I am, I tell workers I need to put my boss hat on and take my friend hat off. It is not an easy thing to do, but sometimes I have to do what is best for myself and the team.
What NDIS self-management has done for me
Overall, self-managing has been and continues to be a rewarding experience. It has improved my sense of worth, which has given me more confidence.
It’s not always easy, but if you persevere and don’t lose hope, you will succeed. Personally, after experiencing the freedom and control self-management has given me in my life, I couldn’t imagine ever going back to a service provider model.
About two years ago, I began using an online app called Real Support Choices and it made a huge difference to the time and effort required.
This online tool offers a free trial and has consultants who are there to share advice when needed. It has made keeping track of shifts and payments a cinch, and I can add my carers and the people who help me stay organised to the system so we can all keep in touch. It’s all so simple and the real benefit is Real Support Choices saves me thousands of dollars, which I can put towards more carer support.