Leading Practice Guidelines

Enlisting Natural Supports

Type: Connection

Guideline: The organization is focused on assisting people to build and maintain a robust network of natural supports. While related to support to gain friendships and social connections, this activity intentionally focuses on soliciting and enlisting unpaid community members to use their unique gifts, experiences and connections to enhance both the life of the person supported and community members.

What does this look like?

The organization has a process and statement of commitment to assisting people to build support networks if they choose.

The organization provides assistance and where necessary facilitation to develop and maintain a natural support network as directed by the person. Ideally, this network should be one that:

  • Is made up of people whom the person supported, trusts and has chosen;
  • People participate voluntarily;
  • Is mutually beneficial to all members and the person is supported to reciprocate assistance, kindness and support in unique and personal ways;
  • Makes use of members’ personal and social connections to make positive changes for the person;
  • Focuses on strengths, talents and capabilities of all involved;
  • Engages people in imagining and leveraging support for positive change in the person’s life (as directed by them);
  • Is diverse and well connected;
  • Acts based on the will, preference and best interest of the person.

The organization provides clear, documented guidance to staff on how relationships between paid staff and people supported may grow and change into natural friendships along with any limitations to staff interactions or relationships. This is shared with people supported, families and staff as early as possible.

Staff received training on how to solicit, enlist and nurture natural supports for people they support. Where needed, staff are trained to facilitate support network interactions and activity.

Documentation and contact information for members of people’s support networks is maintained and updated within the person’s Support Plan.

How would you know this is happening? (Evidence)

What you see in systems:

  • There is evidence of robust support networks in person-centred planning and support planning documentation
  • Staff training records

What you see in actions:

  • People and their families receive support, assistance and fellowship from a robust support network of trusted, engaged community members.
  • Staff understand the importance of support networks and focus on helping the person develop and nurture their activity.

Resources to support achieving Guideline:

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