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The New Model for Supporting Disabled People: the precursor to Enabling Good Lives

The New Model for Supporting Disabled People, a precursor of Enabling Good Lives,  was a response to long held aspirations of disabled people and their families. Inclusion Aotearoa played a key role as the Ministry of Health’s implementation support organisation in the New Model work. This work pioneered ideas that now underpin the current multi-agency work: Enabling Good Lives 

Innovative ideas gave more control to disabled people and their whanau and built on their strengths and community were demonstrated in the Bay of Plenty over four years (2010-14).

The New Model aimed to

  • ensure people are connected to their communities and natural supports

  • create more flexibility in funded supports,

  • enable disabled people and their families to be more in control of that funding.

To learn more about The New Model see below.

Inclusion Aotearoa

  • contributed to the development of the Local Area Coordination programme: organising training, premises and infrastructure

  • recruited and directly employed Local Area Coordinators and a manager (2012-14)

  • supported the co-development process - organising and facilitating reference groups and other forums, putting information in plain language as needed

  • provided strategic advice and reports on the progress of aspects of the demonstration

  • facilitated input by experts within NZ and from overseas

  • facilitated Maori input and advice throughout

  • organised meetings and hui with stakeholders, regionally and nationally

  • communicated with stakeholders, producing summaries of work and other documents

After the New Model Demonstration

  • A three year contract for Local Area Coordination was awarded to Imagine Better

  • and Enhanced Individualised Funding continues.

  • The fundamental changes also underpin the inter-governmental demonstration work of Enabling Good Lives ( in Waikato and Christchurch. However, many of the options are still unavailable elsewhere.

The New Model as a paradigm shift

The New Model was designed not to be just a reorganization of the way the Ministry contracted for support or changes in what service providers do.  It was based on a fundamental shift in thinking – a ‘paradigm shift’.  It involved changes in:

  • The fundamental question that the system asks: from “what support do you need” to “what’s a good life for you”. The system then helps people to explore what that means for them and how they can build that life in their community.  Funded support being the last resort rather than the starting point. 

  • The balance of power: a shift in decision making authority from the Ministry and providers towards confirming disabled people's autonomy as citizens and enabling them to control their lives and the support they are allocated.

  • Emphasis:  from being solely based on needs to recognising the capacities and strengths that disabled people can contribute in their communities

  • Organisation:  moving away from identifying common needs and then contracting a service to meet them, towards identifying individual needs and building support.

  • Focus: a greater focus on inclusion in communities: building natural networks and support around a person, complemented by funded support when necessary.


Some excellent services did not wait for The Ministry of Health's Disability Support Services to make changes, but have begun to move towards this way of working, using the Choice in Community Living programme. But we hope that, sometime in the future, the government will ensure this way of working is the norm not the exception,  so all services  ensure disabled people and their families/whanau can take the lead in designing supports that enable them to have good lives.


These are major changes that disabled people and the wider disability community said they want for a long time and were strongly emphasised in submissions to the parliamentary Select Committee in 2006-8.


Two key parts of the New Model were:


  • A stronger focus on early provision of information and support to plan for a good life within your community. This was through a new process called Local Area Coordination (LAC). Local Area Coordination began in Western Australia over 20 years ago. Coordinators are based in local communities and walk alongside disabled people and their families/whanau to assist them to live good/everyday lives. They support people to plan and strengthen their connections with their communities.


  • An enhanced version of Individualised Funding and a more flexible approach to contracted services.   People were allocated funding so they can design their own supports rather than just select from a limited menu of services and support hours.


Evaluations showed LAC is of benefit to many disabled people and their families/ whanau.   This has led the Ministry of Health to decide to consolidate this work over the next three years, and extend it to the Lakes District Health Board area (Rotorua to Turangi).   


Inclusion Aotearoa supported the Ministry to set LAC up and did not seek a long term contract.   From the end of 2014 the Ministry contracted with Imagine Better to manage and run the Local Area Coordination programme.

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