Ask the Experts: Formal supports with Living Communities


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Christopher Donnelly from Living Communities explains the difference between formal and informal supports in disability support services.

Everyone needs a good support network, and having people to encourage us and assist us makes our lives better.

When we need some advice, help thinking through a problem, or practical assistance for a task we cannot do on our own, we all call on people we know.

This is a support network and it is important that we all have one. 

For a person living with disability, a support network may be especially important if they need particular or more assistance in daily activities.

A wide and growing network of informal supports is key to keeping participants feeling supported and safe.

Different types of support networks

Both informal and formal support can play a positive role in the life of a participant.

Formal support includes the services provided by professional, trained employees, typically paid for their work, while informal support includes the support provided by their family, social network, and community.

Many working adults manage joint work and family responsibilities and turn to supports offered at work and in the home to help manage these roles successfully. 

How do supports work together?

When living with a disability participants will rely on these supports more, at time heavily as to complete simple tasks.

Informal supports can feel burnt out at times, and this is where formal supports show great benefit as they are trained and ideally passionate about providing supports for participants to allow informal supports a chance to recover and recharge.

Working together both formal and informal can set routines, goals and even help participants reach a level of independence they’d not previously been able to achieve. 

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