LEAP works through families to create confident, connected communities who can support people with disabilities positively and encourage active community participation. LEAP helps the family to develop a personalised support plan.
For families affected by disability there is often limited choice and flexibility of support and care services. Professional experts are the decision makers and the role of the community and family is often undervalued. The perception of what ‘good’ support looks like is limited. Families are not supported to take a leadership role in planning support for their family member and therefore can be ill-prepared for the future.
In many cases this can lead to generic care services being provided rather than personalised support. Natural supports and community are not considered in the support planning process leaving families of children with a disability feeling isolated and powerless. As a consequence, young people with disabilities can grow into adulthood lacking the skills, confidence and networks to live an independent life.
Rachel Cassen and Claire Murphy developed LEAP as a social enterprise to empower families experiencing disability to lead self-directed lives. LEAP works directly with families to create confident, connected communities of people that can support families positively and encourage active participation in the community.
LEAP works with the family to build knowledge and skills and challenges existing attitudes and beliefs. They help the family to develop a personalised support plan for their family member and to engage and co-ordinate with community stakeholders and other service providers. Through this work, LEAP is educating families to choose for themselves what is most appropriate for them from an à la carte menu, rather than opting for a set menu of supports.
Through working with families in this way LEAP demonstrates how empowered families can lead to a better quality of life for children with a disability and indeed for the family as a whole. Since launching at the end of 2011, LEAP has already held two family leadership weekends working with 20 families to provide an opportunity to learn and have fun together. LEAP has also been engaged by other families on a one to one basis to develop their leadership skills and to introduce them to the notion of choice and control in determining the best support for their family member.
I feel I now have more confidence in moving forward and am not afraid to plan things for my family member’s future life. Things I would previously not thought were possible or realistic, I now look at with new eyes.
Parent of a child with a disability
Families at a weekend retreat