A Growing Burden on Caregivers: Natural Supports
Natural supports are typically free caregiving provide by a disabled person’s immediate family, and sometimes extended family and friends.
According to NASDDDS, close to 60 percent of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) receiving services live in their families’ home (National Residential Information Systems Project RISP 2010) which means that families are primary support for the majority of people enrolled in services. This percentage of people getting supports in their home has been growing as states look for alternatives to 24-hour residential arrangements.
In this difficult economy, it is quite tempting for policymakers to support and expand free natural supports, with urging by advocates who leverage this temptation and oversell the virtues of natural supports while also seeking closure of specialized residential (large and small), supported employment, and other services. “Supporting families is the pathway to a sustainable system and a sustainable future” (Nancy Thaler, Executive Director, NASDDDS).
Related Research: Disability Caregiving Can Be Health Hazard, Study Finds (December 2012)