Asking for help can be challenging. You don’t want to impose, you feel it is your responsibility, you don’t know how to ask. Here are some things to keep in mind to feel confident you are doing the right thing by asking…..
1. Because social isolation is bad for the health of all people
An article in the Australian Newspaper reported on a scientific review of 148 previous studies involving more than 300,000 people. This review found that those with adequate social relationships were 50 per cent more likely to be alive after an average follow-up period of nearly eight years, compared to more socially isolated people.
2. Because when the community is denied the opportunity to include people with disabilities, they cannot learn how to include them
One of the major reasons why individuals with a disability are often excluded from community is that we have simply failed to ask.
Many of us feel that our son’s and daughters who have a disability are our responsibility and asking other family members, friends and neighbours is asking too much. Its also a commonly held belief within the community that inclusion is the responsibility of paid service providers and not the community itself.
3. Social capital provides you with access to resources
Significant opportunities can arise when you are connected to the community. These opportunities arise from social capital. Social capital provides you with resources through your networks such as information, ideas, leads, business opportunities, financial capital, power and influence, emotional support and so on.
When we don’t ask the community to be involved in the lives of people with disability, they are denied these opportunities. Asking is actually an essential tool for all people not just for those with a disability.
4. Having friends keep our sons and daughters safe
People with disability have an increased risk of being subject to abuse due to a range of factors, such as limitations in communication and physical ability, cognitive capacity, shared accommodation facilities, increased social isolation, and dependence on others for personal care and support.
Abuse and neglect can of course occur in the community or at home but the belief that a person is safer with a paid professional is unfounded.
All of us hope that professionals in the disability sector have a strong moral compass and work hard to support quality of life of people with intellectual disability. This is not always true and our family members can still be at risk from abuse.
Abuse is not always one off serious incidents. It can be small seemingly insignificant actions that occur over a long period of time. For example not placing a person’s communication device within reach or leaving it behind when going out – leaving them without a voice.
With the coming of the NDIS the climate is increasingly focussed on funding and paying for professional support. In such a climate it is important to remember that what actually creates safe and secure futures for our sons and daughters is social connection and freely given relationships.
Friends know our sons and daughters well. They know what makes them happy, when we are in pain or when their needs are not being met. Friends keep an eye out for our sons and daughters and can advocate for them. A friendship network can assist the family to safeguard our son’s and daughters.
It is extremely important that this network of friends and family all follow a set of values and principles that help safeguard your family member and guide their actions to ensure your family member is safe, is included in the community and is given choice and control over their own life.
5. Because you can achieve more for your family member with help
As previously mentioned significant opportunities can arise when you are connected to the community. Having a network of friends who can assist you to find out information, generate ideas, investigate leads, identify employment opportunities, provide emotional support and so on lightens the load on the family.