How the DPA is working for people
Emma is 26 years old and lives in Iluka, Northern NSW and she has been using the Direct Payment Agreement (DPA) since October 2014.
Moving to the DPA arrangement has opened up many opportunities for Emma including being able to live independently, making new friends and being a part of the community through the many different activities she attends in her local area.
One of the best outcomes of the move to the DPA is that Emma is now making choices about what, when, where and who she does those activities with.
Emma’s mother Cath manages her DPA and was inspired to do this so that they could have more choice and control over the way in which Emma’s individual budget was used. Through self managing Emma’s budget, Cath has been able to get more value from the funding as well as ensuring that it is used in a way that meets Emma’s individual needs.
Cath and Emma live in a small community with no local service providers or support staff available, so before moving to the DPA they were faced with paying staff travel costs before a staff shift had even started.
As part of the DPA arrangement, Cath now chooses, employs and trains local staff. The DPA has given Emma consistency and has allowed her to choose activities that she enjoys.
More time for the important things
As well as learning to live more independently, Emma and Cath now have more quality time together.
“The DPA has brought a lot more people into our life and increased Emma's informal support network hugely. Now we can spend quality time together with doing the things that we both enjoy! Emma knows many people in our community and is involved in activities such as the local board-riders club, soccer and netball matches, karoke, riding her trike around town or to the beach, swimming and dancing . Her self help skills are improving and she is living a much more independent and rewarding life.”
Emma is achieving a lot of her goals through the DPA. Her health and fitness has improved, she has learned to make a cup of tea in her own kitchen and she now washes up and puts the dishes away herself.
Managing my supports
Whilst managing the DPA has been much easier than Cath thought, she does recommend learning skills in budgeting, rostering, staff training, organisational and computer skills. Cath was originally worried about employing staff and started by using an employment agency and sub-contractors, although with time, Cath’s confidence has increased and she now self employs and uses sub contractors for Emma’s supports.
To begin with Cath found the monthly DPA reporting quite time consuming, however with the new Ageing, Disability and Home Care ‘DPA Reporting Tool’ she believes this will make a big difference and much simpler process for all.
The DPA is a great arrangement for people who want to manage their own supports. ‘It enables Emma to continue to build upon her social skills and confidence while doing things she enjoys with her friends. Overall we are both much happier’, Cath said, ‘You will get fantastic rewards, learn new skills and make a better life for yourself and the person you care for’.
Why did you choose the DPA?
"I just thought that I was capable of managing my own funding. There were certain things I wanted to do with my funding. My service provider had a set up regimented routine and only a certain amount of options that the clients could choose from. Those options were good for certain clients, I suppose most clients, but I already had a plan of attack for my own rehabilitation and I thought if I could use that funding to work on my fine motor skills and other things that I had to work on for my own rehabilitation then it would be money better spent."
Managing my supports
"I tailor made my activities to fit in with my rehabilitation so I could get myself healthy physically and mentally, and back out into society as soon as I possibly could.
I have support workers to come in to help me with meal preparation, cleaning, some personal hygiene and shopping, that basic sort of stuff. The other areas were mainly focussed around my rehabilitation, meaning my physiotherapy and occupational therapy, and exercise physiology.
Also, before I had the accident I did a lot of martial arts and boxing my whole life, so I decided to do Aikido - I was trying to coordinate my mind and body again because I suffered from an acquired brain injury, which left me very shaky and killed off a large section of my brain. Using neuroplasticity I had to rebuild new pathways so as my body would function properly, and I thought (after doing a lot of martial arts) that Aikido good as it is very centred on mind and body coordination.
I found it really quite easy because, like I said, I was lucky enough that my service providers were very supportive of what I wanted to do, and they understood that I’d rather spend my money that was allocated to me in different ways than other people chose to spend their money. So when I went to the DPA, the flexibility and the fact that I could choose, once it was approved by the department, how I wanted to spend that money and what activities I wanted to do, it just flowed on much quicker and much easier and allowed me to access the activities that would improve my health quicker."
Managing my Direct Payments
"I thought it would be easier if I used contractors, because if I was going to employ people that would mean that I’d have to look after their taxes and their superannuation as well. With me being one of the first people on the DPA at that time, it was easier for me at the time to subcontract that work out.
I employed an accountant just to make sure that at the end of each month when I handed my budget [progress report] in, I hadn’t only checked it but he had double checked it. He was an accountant but he’s also a lawyer as well, and I wanted to make sure that everything was above board. At the end of each month I’d get all my paperwork together and run it through him, and once he’d checked it and made sure that it was legally all right and everything was there, he would send it back to me and then I would forward it on to ADHC’s Direct Payment Agreement people, and I haven’t had any trouble. I recommend using an accountant – I did it just so I knew it was all above board, and I didn’t mind paying that $100 out of my monthly budget for the peace of mind, so I knew I was doing everything right.
For me the best thing about the DPA is the flexibility. Being able to write up your own plan, so it best serves your needs and how you want to get back into the community."