Elements of Directing Your Own Support

When you direct your own support it is important to keep authority over the decisions that affect your life, either on your own or with the support of people you trust.  These decisions should be based on the vision you have for your life.   The clearer your vision, the easier it is to plan, act and review based on that vision.  

The cyclical nature of this diagram emphasises that the process of directing your own support needs to be revisited regularly to keep the work of self-direction on track. The centre of the diagram, and the focus of all these elements, is always the person who requires support.

The Person

The 'self' in self-direction refers to the person who has funding to purchase supports and services. The hopes and dreams this person has for his or her life, and the particular supports needed to achieve this life, should always be the focus of the self- or family- directed arrangements. 


A self- or family- directed model starts with a vision and plan for a good life for yourself / the person requiring support. A good life can mean different things to different people. For most people, however, a vision for a good life would include being connected to people who love and care about them, a life where they are recognised for the contribution they make to their community, a place to call home that they choose. The vision for your life, or for the person close to you, should direct all planning and organisation of supports and services.  

You can read more about the importance of having a clear vision for your self-direction in Imagining Possibilities.


Planning can be both a natural, ongoing process, more like a way of thinking, or it can be done as a more structured process of brainstorming and recording a path of action. This kind of planning is often done best with family, friends or other significant people in your life. Planning with family and friends can result in members of your support network  taking on informal roles to assist you with your self-direction.

People who don't have family members or friends assisting them with their support may want to consider developing links or networks with people who have the information or knowledge to assist with planning or who understand all the elements required in directing your own supports.  Organisations in Queensland, such as Queensland Disability Network, Pathways to Leadership and Community Resource Unit, can provide information about peer support and person-centred planning.  

Some questions to help plan are:

  • What do you think is a good life?
  • What do you and your family / network want to achieve in the future?
  • How can the people who are naturally there assist you to do this?
  • How can paid support, equipment or services help?
  • Do you have a plan for when you or your family are less able to direct your support as you can now?

Read more about planning in What goes in a plan?


Think creatively when planning how best to use your funding. Consider goals in all areas of your life, not just personal care.  Make sure that the support  you organise assists you to become more connected in your community rather than isolate you behind a barrier of professional support .Remember that funding alone can never ensure that a person has a good life. It is also important to think about all the areas of you life in which relationships with unpaid people can add to the quality of your life.  

Some questions to help think creatively are:

  • How can paid support assist you to become known in the community?
  • Is paid support helping or hindering your natural networks or support?
  • Is paid support meeting needs in all areas of your life, in the best way possible?
  • How can your resources assist you to develop skills or become more independent?

Read more about thinking creatively in The strengths and limitations of funding in creating a good life and in The right person for the job: creative ways to stretch your budget.

Work out a budget based on your plan

Under Your Life Your Choice, you are required to establish a budget either with Disability Services or your Host Provider at least on a yearly basis. It is wise to review your budget at least quarterly. You will need to ensure you have a system to monitor over- or under-spending.

Most people spend their funds steadily throughout the year; however, some people vary their spending depending on support requirements and availability of informal support.  At other times people may save funds for an annual holiday or other big projects.

Make sure that the support plan and budget is in line with the big picture planning and your vision for your life.  See how this can be done in the Case Study.

Organise the support you need

Make sure that the support you organise is aligned with your goals. Design position descriptions for support staff that include clear outcomes based on what you want to achieve. You will need to plan to recruit, induct, train and monitor the performance of the people you engage.

If you need equipment, therapy or other specific disability services you will need to know where and how you can purchase these.

Read more about organising support in Engaging, Recruiting and Working with People.


Check what is working and what is not working

The person receiving support knows best if they have the right type of support. If the support is not working, you can change it. You can do this through measures such as:

  • providing better direction and training to workers
  • changing the tasks to be done to better meet the needs or
  • changing the worker

Read more about reviewing your supports in Letting Staff Go.

Get advice when you need it

You should be able to get advice from Disability Services and / or your Host Provider. You might also have a network of people who you engage to assist you to think through any issues that arise and who may take on delegated roles.

You might have a larger group or one or more people who you enlist to help govern your support arrangements.

Read an example of how one person shared the roles of self-direction with others in the Table: Problem solving in the context of self-direction using de Bono's 6 Thinking Hats.

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