Personal Advocacy and Lifetime Support
Personal support networks for individuals with disabilities
Adults with disabilities often lead lonely isolated lives, with little connection to the communities in which they live. Aging parents are concerned with what will happen to their son or daughter when they are no longer able to attend to his/her needs. PALS, Inc. is a service that recognizes and addresses the long term implications of isolation and vulnerability by establishing personal support networks, composed of caring individuals who want to be in relationships with a person with special needs. Often members of personal support networks adopt specific roles: as advocates, as financial or medical advisors, and as friends sharing a common interest. Such networks last for a lifetime, helping the person with a disability realize his/her dreams and goals.
Who are the Networks?
Families of individuals often come to PALS with a list of people who have known their sons and daughters in many different ways. They may be a family member or family friend, a teacher or camp counselor, or a current or past coworker. They may also be a person with a disability or a person without a disability who has chosen to get to know the individual through a group (such as church) or shared experiences.
Role of the PALS Facilitator
The Facilitator is paid to keep a network of friends in touch with the individual and with one another if necessary. The facilitator is a neutral, skilled person who gets to know the individual and his/her likes and dislikes, gains the person’s trust and can support the friends who have been identified. It is the role of the Facilitator to identify potential new members and follow up on the commitments of existing members.
Developing a PALS network begins with the Exploratory Stage: working with the individual and his/her family to identify the vision, define the purpose and develop a work plan. PALS Facilitators often work closely with the SUPPORTbrokers and use Person Centered Plans as a guide.
The next stage is Implementation Stage. During this stage the Facilitator assists the family in developing a Personal Support Network or strengthens an existing one. The Facilitator spends time with the family and individual and provides organizational support for identifying and inviting potential network members to the first of several meetings. At these meetings the Facilitator helps members process the vision statement for the individual and provides input. It is also a time to stimulate ideas and interest and begin the process of having the members follow through on their commitments. The Facilitator fine funes the work plan to ensure that contacts and gatherings are scheduled in accordance with the vision and plan.
Once the network has achieved self-sufficiency and cohesion, the Facilitator will continue to provide oversight of the network activities, at the request of the family and individual. In this Maintenance Stage, the Facilitator organizes the activities (such as birthday celebrations, holiday parties, etc.), keeps the network going, helps find new friends to get involved as well as replacements for those who can no longer be involved. The Facilitator will have regular interaction with the family and individual (at least twice per year) where they will share concerns and accomplishments.
For more information on developing a PALS network and fees contact:
Kerry Mahoney, Director
SUPPORTbrokers / PALS
Phone: 781.891.6270 ext.109