StepIn makes positive assumptions about people who have support needs. It assumes that they can – and will – live more independently than they have previously; that they will support one another as they can and that they will play an active role participating in, and contributing, to their local community. People have their own home; they are the tenancy holder; they hold the keys, they control who comes and goes from their home. This is often a new experience for the network member but it is empowering over time.
Each network consists of as many as 10 members which includes up to nine adults (who have support needs) and a community living volunteer. All 10 members need to live close together in dispersed housing (NOT clustered) so that the network members are all within walking distance of each other and can support one another easily.
Members of StepIn networks are people who have a disability who want to live in their own home and need some support to do this.
Members must be willing to support fellow network members and to take part in network meetings. Beyond this people are free to live their lives as they wish in their homes and communities.
A member is someone who:
The supported living coordinator is central to making the networks work.
The SLC's role is to co-ordinate and organise StepIn. S/he is responsible for the effective operation and administration of the StepIn networks. S/he is responsible for ensuring that the project stays within budget and that we follow good practice in how we do our work. This includes ensuring that StepIn policies are adhered to and for coordinating volunteer/paid supports.
The SLC is involved in providing support and supervision to the Community Living Volunteer. The SLC is the first point of contact for people who want to become members and their families. The SLC carries out an assessment of the needs and skills of people who wish to join a network. This piece of work may be done in partnership with the relevant support agency and/or a member of the voluntary board of StepIn.
The assessment is done with the person and includes people in his or her life. The SLC also ensures that members’ individual plans are reviewed regularly. The SLC also helps the member to find suitable affordable accommodation within the network area and helps the member in dealing with the county council in arranging the lease agreement and payment of rent. The SLC also supports the member with the things that need to be done when moving into a new place, including setting up a system for payment of electricity (direct debits, standing orders etc) and in sorting out benefit payments.
Training and living skills is a central element to members achieving their goal of living in their own homes. This is provided by disability support organisations in partnership with StepIn.
People wishing to join a StepIn network can contact StepIn themselves and then fill in an application form. However, if they require some paid supports to live in their own home, they should liaise with their local service provider first.
StepIn does not currently provide direct paid supports to members. Individuals can also be referred by someone else, for example a family member, friend or staff member of a disability agency or other professionals working with the potential member such as HSE staff.
The person must be aware of the application. Individuals hoping to have their own home and become a member of StepIn may need to liaise with their local service provider as the individual supports they may require may need to be resourced by that agency/HSE area.
StepIn's focus is on supporting individuals with their housing needs (managing their tenancy, bills and so forth) and with being an active member of the network.
Additional supports will need to be provided by partnership agencies such as the Brothers of Charity, HSE, etc. StepIn provides 12 hours per week to the network (not each individual member).
The volunteer support is provided by a volunteer that also lives within or very close to the network.
Aisling Hynes (pictured) is a StepIn SLC.
An important part of her role is to build and maintain good working relationships with other agencies involved in supporting the network and the members – this includes the county council, the Community Welfare Service, local housing associations and disability service providers and the Department of Social Protection, the Gardaí and so forth.
StepIn is a new support service in Ireland so part of the role of the SLC is to participate in awareness-raising about this way of working to progress the work of StepIn. The SLC reports to the voluntary board of directors.
StepIn is available to provide awareness/training to other organisations (staff, families) about the general concept and principles of Supported Living. StepIn is also available to provide more specific training/awareness based on the StepIn model of Supported Living Networks.
Please email us or contact Brian on 087 6693118 or Aisling on 087 2128658