Disability health & wellbeing

All decisions about the health and wellbeing needs of your brother or sister with disability are best made with them, not for them.

People with disability can have the same health problems as anyone else. They often have more health problems.

Your brother or sister’s health and wellbeing may involve coordination with and between different health professionals. It might also involve informal, unpaid care provided by people like you, or other family and friends.

The overarching goal should always be to support your brother or sister to have as much autonomy as possible, and to live their best life.

Medical support, decision-making and consent for people with disability in Australia

It might sometimes be challenging to establish when your brother or sister is unwell and needs medical attention, as some people with disability can find it hard to explain their symptoms.

It is important to maintain regular health checks and watch out for signs of health problems. If your brother or sister is living independently but receiving support from a provider, it is equally important to have defined protocols and procedures in place in the event of a medical emergency.

It’s also important to understand when consent to a medical procedure is required, and when it is not.

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Signs of illness

The Council for Intellectual Disability has created a helpful factsheet, ‘Adults – Signs of Illness’. It’s primarily focused on signs of illness in people with intellectual disability, but it is a good guide for people with disability in general. 

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Medical consent flowchart

The Office of the Public Advocate Victoria has created a helpful flowchart, ‘Can your adult patient consent?’ for exploring and obtaining medical consent with adults.

There are many potential health and wellbeing experiences and providers that a person with disability can access and build on their supports. Some common examples include assistance with personal care and social and community participation, nutrition supports, counselling and therapy as well as the more standard healthcare options such as GPs, medical specialists, dentists and hospitals.

Whichever providers are chosen, it’s important that your brother or sister feel comfortable with the person providing care to them.

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NDIS providers

The NDIS has developed an online provider finder tool for searching registered providers across all provider types, including healthcare and wellbeing supports providers, across Australia.

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Service providers & info guides

The Disability Support Guide has developed an online provider and information guide finder tool for searching registered providers across all provider types, including healthcare and wellbeing supports providers, across Australia. You can also search for disability or diagnosis specific information here.

Healthy ageing and end of life planning

As people age, the end of life becomes closer. Some people may have health conditions that shorten their life expectancy. It’s sensible to start thinking about how your brother or sister wants to live as they get older, and about health issues that may arise as they age.

You can support this by talking with your brother or sister, family, their advocates or Circle of Support, and health professionals.

We recommend approaching these issues in a way that is very sensitive to people’s fears and emotions, but that also allows people to express their views freely and be supported to have maximum involvement in these decisions. Make sure you document the outcomes of the discussion – you can do this in the personal profile for your brother or sister. We also recommend visiting our page on Estate Planning for more information.

What you can do

Understand and facilitate supported decision-making for a person with disability

Every person has the right to make their own decisions, but sometimes, we need support. When someone needs help to make decisions, it’s called supported decision-making. And is based on making decisions with someone not for them.

Support with decision-making can come from family, friends, and other peers. Support can also come from service providers or other people, such as advocates. Supported decision making looks different for each person.

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Easy Read & video

The Council for Intellectual Disability has created information about supported decision-making for people with intellectual disability. It’s called ‘I can make decisions’ and includes a downloadable two-page Easy Read document in pdf format, and a three-minute video.

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Guide to NDIS decision-making

The Victorian Office
for the Public Advocate’s ‘Guide to NDIS decision-making’ and explores when a decision can be made by, with or for an adult with significant cognitive disability.

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Lived experience video

Check out this NDIS
video where Luke from Inclusion Australia talks about supported decision-making
for people with disability.

Establish a Circle of Support for a person with disability

It is important to remember that there are alternatives to seeking formal legal orders (which might include guardianship and administration), such as establishing a Circle of Support to support you and your brother or sister with decision making.

A Circle of Support involves a group of people in your brother or sister’s life, who they know and trust, coming together to support formulating, promoting and achieving the goals of a person with disability. The circle acts as a community to support and provide practical advice, solve problems and generate creative ideas to contribute positively to a person’s life.

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Blog

A Circle of Support for a person with disability can be whatever you make of them.

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Microboards 

A Microboard is a similar concept to a Circle of Support but is legally incorporated to become a not-for-profit organisation that supports just one person. A Circle of Support often progresses to become a formalised Microboard.

Complete our personal profiles for future sibling planning

To ensure you can support your brother or sister to make important life decisions that are right for them, it’s important that you first ensure you understand what they want, what is important to them, and how they see themselves living their life for the foreseeable future.

That’s why we’ve created two helpful personal profile documents – a personal profile for your brother or sister, and a personal profile for you. Completing these profiles will help you to gain clarity on their wants and needs, keep track of relevant information and decisions, and enable you to reflect and plan ahead. It’s something you can do with your brother or sister, and you might even find it fun! 

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