What is a Support Broker
A support Broker works with individuals who have a disability and have their own individual funding in place. Support Brokers have to be independent of services and social care systems, with no conflict of interest. Their role is to support people with a disability, focused only on the needs of the person they are working for.
Support brokers are accountable to the person with a disability, providing assistance as required, advocating for the person and continually putting the focus of the needs of the person.
Support brokers do not have the right to change the plan or communicate with other professionals about the plan without the involvement of the person they are working for. Professional confidentiality towards the customer is part of the contract which is made between the support broker and the customer.
Who can use a Support Broker?
Support Brokers will work with individuals over 18 years of age, who have a disability, physical, intellectual, sensory or other. Individuals with a disability will need to have control of their own individual funding before a Support Broker can work with them. Funding may come from different areas such as:
- HSE individual funding
- Trust funds
- Ward of court funds
- Individuals who already have individualised funding with an existing service
- Individuals with private funds
Individuals with a disability who do not have individual funding at this time
Some people who may want to access the services of an independent Support Broker. They will first need to gain access to their individual funding. Their first step is to contact their local HSE disability manager and request access to the resources allocated to them.
This may include:
- Individuals who have dropped out of existing services
- Individuals and their families who are very unhappy with their existing services
- People on the autistic spectrum who don’t have any supports
- School leavers looking for a service
- Individuals who have very high support needs and struggle to find suitable services
- Individuals living in institutions who want to live in the community.
- Once individual funding has been identified and this funding allocation is available to the person with a disability, they can then employ a support broker.
What will a support broker do?
The support broker will spend some time with the person discovering what their dreams, hopes and desires are for their life. They will work through a step-by-step process that includes:
- The discovery process: Getting to know the person, their family and friends, and learning what changes the person wants to make in their life
- Identifying the person’s circle of support.The circle is made up of unpaid people who care about the person and are already supporting them in their life. The other people in the community may become part of the person’s circle over time.
- Working closely with the person to articulate their needs and desires, and share them with their families and circle of support.
- Discovering and using the resources in the local community.
- Negotiating with service providers regarding costs
- Costing the services and supports the person needs.
- Writing up the person’s individual plan.
Support the person and their circle in implementing the plan.
The support broker will work with he person and their circle for an agreed period – until the support plan has been finalised and is being implemented.
The support broker will meet periodically with the person and their circle to ensure the plan is working and the person has the supports they need.
Who will for pay the support broker’s time?
The support broker will normally work with the person and their circle over a two to three month period, and this will involve a once-off cost agreed at the start. This cost is usually deducted from the person’s individual funding and paid by the funding authority.
Why use a Support Broker
Not everyone needs a support broker. Many of us need support at different times in our lives. We may need help with financial, medical, employment and other areas of life. We may get this help from our family and friends and from other people we know in our local community.
But developing and costing and implementing an individual plan takes time and energy, and the help of a professional – who doesn’t try to take over – can be worthwhile.
Most people with a disability have a history of receiving services, but don’t always receive the supports they want, to enable them live the life they want. An independent service broker will help with identifying what the person wants and where to find the supports they need, often found in the local community.
The support broker is focused only on the person and does not answer to anyone else. They are professionals working for the person to achieve the best outcomes and the best value for money.