Support Brokerage Development
We were exploring the development of an inclusive Support Brokerage for disabled adults to find their own place in the world with direct control over their budgets and life choices. Click on the below links to find out more. Currently we may be able to help with inclusion facilitation and person centred planning via our sister Community Interest Company: A Place in the World
Some of we think is useful thinking and ideas around Independent Support Brokerages….
- Our Vision Values and Aims
- A Place in the World: An Association of Independent Brokers
- Identifying potential brokers
- Developing the Broker Role
- Supporting brokers, personal assistants and the development of a Place in the World
- Creating and Facilitating Life Long Circles of Support
- Building Community Inclusion
- Community Circles
- Peer and Family Mentors
- Staying Small and Sharing Learning
- Other themes
- Useful Links
If you are interested in sponsoring this work or contributing in any other way please contact us.
Our Vision, Values and Aims
Our vision is to create a local association of independent support brokers to enable disabled adults to live self-directed lives and contribute to their local communities. As opposed to the typical case-manager model, we will not focus on deficits or use segregated services as the answer to problems. Instead, we will focus on assets and gifts, identifying opportunities through people and communities. We will achieve this through the provision of resources, training and expertise in the development and implementation of person centred approaches, which will enable an increasing number of disabled adults to live in and contribute to their local community. This will be achieved through the use of creative person-centred approaches to planning, problem solving and development of natural circles of support. We are mindful from the very start of this work that person centred plans as such are not the primary determinants of well-being in community. We want to explore what it means for the way we work if we accept that “citizens and their collective relationships are the principal tool for affecting the basic determinants of well being” (John McKnight 2006) – and not services or institutions.
A Place in the World: An Association of Independent Brokers
Our overall goal is to create and then support an association of independent brokers who will support local disabled and marginalised people to live a life chosen by them in their community as opposed to a segregated service life. As stated in the previous section (see page 5) the value of an independent Support Broker is becoming increasingly apparent. The proposed association model provides a completely independent broker service as the broker is directly employed and accountable to the person and their family. The association provides a safety net to both people and their families and brokers, through ongoing training and support.A Place in the World will be responsible for supporting independent brokers through the provision of advice, training, supervision and shared problem solving. The association will also monitor and regulate the quality of brokerage.
This model will enable people to choose from a range of trained and skilled brokers. People will be able to choose brokers from a register which will be developed and maintained by A Place in the World.
The Association will be run by a Broker Coordinator (initially part time) who will be responsible for ensuring there are enough brokers available at any one time, recruiting new brokers, supporting and supervising brokers, providing and sourcing training for brokers and coordinating broker meetings. In addition to this the Coordinator will broker for a small number of individuals and their families as well as being available to fill in while people are in-between brokers.
A Place in the World will offer a ‘menu’ of services. People will be able to choose one or a combination of services, or may want to purchase a comprehensive brokerage service, which would provide all of the below services. Brokers may be paid on an hourly basis, or may charge an annual fee (for comprehensive support brokerage).
Typically a broker may do one or more of the following:
- develop and/or facilitate circles of support
- facilitate a MAP or PATH to develop a long term vision
- create the initial budget with the person using self assessment
- facilitate and write the annual support plan
- help the person recruit, train, manage and retain staff
- support the person to participate in and contribute to their community
- Facilitate circles of support and person centred approaches to create networks with others and enhance participation in the local community
- Compile and complete documentation for accessing funding/resources and negotiating with funding agencies including assessment and support planning
- Create connections to resources in the community including opportunities to take part in leisure, education and employment and the intentional building of personal networks
- Assist with establishing and implementing a detailed person centred support plan which may involve support with finding and adapting accommodation, hiring and managing support staff, budget management, accessing arts and entertainment and so on
- Provide assistance in the day to day management of their PA’s
- Mediate, support conflict resolution and facilitate the use of problem solving tools
- Help ensure a more effective use of resources
In addition to the above brokers will also be required to attend training and a set number of broker meetings (communities of practice) each year.
This model has been developed through a process of learning about what works and what doesn’t work from our experience in Inclusive Solutions plus what emerges from existing innovative national and international projects and organisations including:
- Neighbours Inc
- Beyond Welfare
- In Control
- The National Brokerage Network
The overall goal or developing and then supporting an Independent Support Brokerage is broken down into a number of smaller more specific goals below:
Identifying potential brokers
Initially brokers will be recruited from our existing connections and associates. People invited to become brokers will be committed to inclusion and have expertise in person centred planning and circle building. This will form a core group of brokers who will deliver the service to a small number of individuals and their families. In the longer term brokers will be recruited from within the community including parents of disabled people.
We will also advertise for brokers through the distribution of publicity materials in local communities across Nottingham, on the Inclusive Solutions website and also by word of mouth in community circles and through community connectors – people who are well connected to people, associations and organisations in their local community.
At present Brokerage is not a regulated profession, there is no formal ‘broker qualification’ however there are a number of qualities that we believe are essential to the broker role and as far as possible we will recruit brokers who possess the following qualities;
- A ‘people person’
- A good listener
- Have an understanding of and commitment to inclusion for everyone
- A belief in equal opportunities
- Non judgemental
- A good sense of humour
In addition to the above all brokers who are part of the association must be over 18 and will be subject to a Criminal Records Bureau check.
Initially it is not anticipated that any broker will be full time – although this may change over time – we envisage that brokers will have full or part-time jobs elsewhere and will broker in addition to their main job. People may broker for 1-3 people at any one time.
Developing the Broker Role
Central to this proposal is the role of the broker who will ultimately be selected and employed by the disabled person/family (through a proportion of their Individual Budget) with an agreed contract detailing expectations, activities, time commitments and a review of the broker’s role. A broker works for the person, is highly skilled in person-centred approaches, and focuses on involving all possible community resources to assist the person in making their dreams a reality. It is the job of the broker to help the person to plan and organise any support they need.
In the short term the role of the broker will be developed through the proposed pilot project aimed at translating effective practice being implemented nationally and internationally to the local Nottingham context. Internationally we will learn from the practices of Neighbours Inc. a well established support brokerage in New Jersey and Beyond Welfare a community development organisation in Ames Iowa. Nationally we will link with existing brokerages and also link with initiates such as the National Brokerage Network and In Control.
This will be an ongoing process which will in the long term be informed by feedback from people we broker for their families and brokers themselves.
Supporting Brokers, Personal Assistants and the Development of A Place the World
A key goal for A Place in the World is to offer ongoing training and support to brokers. Being a broker requires a person to work very independently, we will have no offices and the team will for most of the time be a ‘virtual’ team. Consequently a key part of our proposal is to develop and support a team of brokers. The team will meet regularly and will be a safe place for brokers to share successes and challenges, problem solve and discuss new ideas. All brokers will be required to attend an initial ‘welcome’ training course. Following this Brokers will be contracted to attend a minimum of 6 broker meetings a year to remain associated to A Place in the World.
Supervision and training will be facilitated by A Place in the World. Supervision will utilise a number of creative tools such as MAP, Solution Circles or Positive and Productive Meetings tools.
Regular training opportunities will be offered to brokers, Personal Assistants and people and heir families. The training menu will include:
- Person centred planning approaches – with the understanding that without relationships, there is no plan for the future
- Being creative – particularly around re-thinking ideas on risk and vulnerability. Making the move from ‘Health and Safety regulations determine what you do’ to “We find a way to do what you want safely”
- Navigating the system
- Writing plans
- Building/facilitating circles of support
- Accessing community resources
- Funding guidelines
- Mentoring those interested in facilitating circles so as to create natural facilitators in natural settings (such as a teacher at a local school)
- Person Centred support Planning (Essential Lifestyle Planning and Person Centred Thinking)
The provision of training for Personal Assistants is a unique element of the service we are proposing. The difficulties that individuals and families experience in finding and retaining support workers that are well matched to their needs often mean that this is too daunting and there is never the felt security needed to consider leaving residential care. The combination of a circle of support and well-supervised support workers is key to enhancing the safety of a disabled person and indeed that safety is directly related to the number and quality of relationships the person has.
The Support Brokerage Coordinator will be crucial in supporting Brokers, providing and sourcing training and the overall development of A Place in the World. More specifically the role of the Coordinator will be to;
- Identify and recruit potential brokers
- Ensure provision of and access to appropriate training for brokers particularly around issues of role and boundaries
- Connect brokers with adults/families
- Develop and provide on-going support including mentoring, coaching and supervision of brokers addressing issues of sustainability and quality
- Train, coach and consult with other organisations interested in setting up similar models of support
Creating and Facilitating Life Long Circles of Support
“There is no disability that precludes relationship”Al Etmanski
The best guarantee of a safe and secure future for a disabled person is the number of caring, committed friends, family members, acquaintances and supporters actively involved in his or her life. The touchstone of the work envisaged here is the intentional creation of a team of people – sometimes called a ‘Personal Network’ or a ‘Circle of Support’ – who come together to befriend support and advocate for the person. Circles of support are groups of people who know, like, and care about someone, who come together as a group to make sure that the person they care about is supported to be a part of community life. Circles intentionally come together to overcome the barriers that they face. Circle meetings are facilitated so that members can have conversations around the following questions:
- What is important to the person?
- What else do we need to learn?
- What is happening in their life now?
- What is the vision?
- What gets in the way?
- What do we need?
- How can we get it?
- Who can help us?
The long-term aim is that each person/family will work towards independently managing his or her own support structures without the need for a broker. This will be achieved through the development and facilitation of formal or informal life-long circles of support which are made up of family, friends, neighbours and community members, not just professionals or paid supports. For some people the broker will pay a key role in setting up and facilitating these circles.
Building Community Inclusion
We aim to explore processes through which we can identify and mobilise the natural sources of relationships and support that are latent in every community. This will include;
- Serving as a “clearinghouse” for resources this means creating a space that people, families and organisations in the local community can contact to quickly find out what resources are available or to get connected with various community groups.
- Developing a comprehensive directory of local community resources, that can be continually updated and which will serve as a guide to the person’s local community. We will use routines of ‘community mapping’ to create and maintain this resource.
- Develop partnerships with local colleges, schools and community groups leading to the possibility of volunteer brokers and other community resources.
Inspired by Lois Smidt of Beyond Welfare, Iowa, A Place in the World will endeavour to create community circles across Nottingham . In 2007 we at Inclusive Solutions began to create community gatherings in Nottinghamshire that were based on full inclusion principles. All who attend are invited to explore how they can find sufficient meaning, friendship and money in their lives.
The purpose of community circles is to bring people from a local community together to share their skills, talents, gifts and resources. This idea is based upon the premise that ALL of us need three things in our lives to make us happy and fulfilled: these are money, friendship and meaning. We believe that everyone needs community, everyone needs to be heard and everyone needs to have fun.
Community Circles are based upon reciprocity and the assumption that EVERYONE has both gifts and needs – whether these are labelled or not. The circles adopt the fundamental value of inclusion that ‘all means all’, no one is excluded from community circles, instead the circle members work out how to include everyone equally and safely.
A community circle is made up of participants and allies from the local community. The meeting starts with everyone sharing food and conversations. Next the group comes together in a circle so that everyone can see each other and shares what is good and new in their lives, everyone gets a turn to be listened to. ‘New and Good’ breaks the habit of thinking about and acting from what’s wrong, it is an exercise of giving and receiving attention with one another and it also provides a strong foundation of strengths from which we can think about and tackle difficulties. The group is then asked the question what do they want, need or have to offer.
Community circles provide a great foundation or starting point from which to explore connections, build relationships, locate resources and share skills. These circles will be a particularly important resource for Brokers and the people that they work for. They provide a safe forum in which people can meet and friendships can start, a natural reservoir of people and relationships where people can be invited to offer their time and capacity.
Peer and Family Mentors
In the long term we will employ people and family members who are currently using self directed services to provide a number of different types of support to other people and their families. This support might look like people sharing their stories, supporting people with their plan, and sharing their experiences in self direction.
Peer and family mentors will be self employed and will work with people when needed.
Staying Small and Sharing Learning
We do not intend to become a big service provider or agency; instead our aim is to create models of support that stay closely linked to local communities and always remain able to listen to the individual voices of the people being supported. We want to put our energy and experience into developing new and innovative approaches to self-determination and demonstrate to others how these can work. Our vision is to stay small whilst searching for a deeper understanding through letting go of old ways of supporting and assisting and being open to the emergence of new perspectives. We will share our learning in a number of ways including;
- Developing and disseminating examples of how disabled people can be assisted to lead lives that are satisfying and fulfilling, will be essential. The sharing of information with stakeholders including acknowledgement of successes and the factors that contributed to positive outcomes will need to be documented. Equally the factors which appear to inhibit positive outcomes will need to be recorded as learning points for the future.
- Providing a website that will contain information for individuals and families about self directed support, individualised budgets and support brokerage, information for brokers and potential brokers on the role of the broker, training, links and resources and also information for others interested in setting up a brokerage about our successes and challenges.
- Developing and disseminating accessible publicity materials about the brokerage for potential customers and also publicity about the role of the broker for potential brokers.
We believe that it is important for all of the stakeholders in the local area to work closely together. With this in mind, we suggest that an Advisory Board guide the Association.
The Board should ideally comprise of a variety of key stakeholders in the area, including;
- people who are utilising broker services, individuals, family members and friends
- local community residents
- People who have an experience of using service
- Practitioners and allies working in the field of inclusion and self direction
The advisory board will have the role of directing, reviewing and monitoring the activities of A Place in the World through monthly meetings and participation in the ongoing evaluation of the association. The Board will provide a forum for people to share ideas, concerns, solve problems and to ensure that the Association remains true to its mission.
Other Themes and Questions that are ‘in the air’
- How do we reach the people who have no one currently in their lives?
- What links can we build with local businesses that already encourage their employees to volunteer into support roles?
- …and there are many others – this is all we have had time to put on the site so far
Asset-Based Community Development Institute
A community building organisation who believe that community assets are key building blocks in sustainable urban and rural community revitalisation efforts. These community assets include:
- the skills of local residents
- the power of local associations
- the resources of public, private and non-profit institutions
- the physical and economic resources of local places.
Neighbours ‘is an innovative non-profit organisation created specifically to support people with disabilities and their families in choosing and designing a life for themselves within their local towns and neighbourhoods.’
Chatham – Savannah Citizen Advocacy
Chatham-Savannah Citizen Advocacy is a 30-year-old community based non-profit organisation that recruits, matches and offers support to over 100 local citizens in voluntary citizen advocacy relationships.