Stuart and Noella Coutts’ Story

Anna cooking

We have been associated with Bespoke Lifestyles since its inception in 2010. We were immediately attracted to self-directed funding for our 33 year daughter Anna, because it meant additional funding through lower administration costs as well as greater control over how these funds would be spent.

Some additional tasks associated with self-directed funding seemed at first a bit daunting, like finding workers for Anna ourselves, conducting regular support worker meetings, supervising workers and paying them. However, with the help of Bespoke Lifestyles to ease us into this at the beginning, now this all seems very natural.

Finding workers has rarely been a problem. In fact they usually find us! Some are friends or siblings of current workers (currently Anna has nine workers) or just someone who knows someone who wants to work as a support worker.

Initially a consultant from Bespoke Lifestyles helped us with staff meetings but now we (my husband and I) confidently conduct bi-monthly dinner meetings which have become a social event at Anna’s unit as well as being an important business event. Anna enjoys having all her workers present. She is encouraged to participate as much as possible and loves being the centre of attention.

Staff supervision is also not difficult as I am in constant contact with each of them either by phone or in person to catch up on how things are going. The lines of communication between us are always open. Staff pays aren’t a problem. My husband enjoys doing spreadsheets and checking invoices against timesheets and reconciling the petty cash book. We have to do a monthly estimate of Anna’s cash requirements and report all the payments on a quarterly basis. Self-directed funding requires a high degree of accountability. However, Bespoke Lifestyles have established guidelines and checklists to assist families in this area. We also feel reassured that if we were to become overwhelmed or if we decided to take a long holiday and were not available to pay the staff, Bespoke Lifestyles would assist us to organise someone to take on this task for us.

Bespoke Lifestyles helps us each year with a financial budget to help us work out what support Anna can afford. With self-directed funding, we have the opportunity to manage our daughter’s funding to the best advantage to give her the best possible life and we are able to modify the funding plan if her circumstances change. For Anna, self-funding has meant she could afford more support which enabled her to move to her own unit last year. This means she is more independent and leads a more normal life in her community.

“Despite the extra work involved, we much prefer self-directed funding as it gives us far greater choice, control and flexibility. Everyone benefits: Anna now leads a more fulfilling life and we, her family who understand Anna’s needs better than anyone else, have a greater say in how her funding is applied.”