The critical role of community-based micro-grants for disability aids and equipment: results from a needs analysis
Authors: Heidi Muenchberger, Carolyn Ehrlich, Sanjoti Parekh, & Michelle Crozier
Purpose: To investigate the role of philanthropic micro-grants (maximum of $10 000) in the provision of aids and equipment for adults (aged 18–65 years of age) with complex disabilities and examine key trends in aids and equipment requests.
Method: This study examined, through quantitative and qualitative analysis, aids and equipment requests (n¼371 individual applications as represented by 136 service organisations in three Australian states) received by a not-for-profit (NFP) organisation across five consecutive years of an innovative micro-grants scheme.
Results: Findings highlight that living situation (living with family or living independently) significantly influences the nature of requests for respite, aids, equipment and home modifications. Specifically, people with complex disabilities living with their families require greater combined service provision (higher equipment need, respite support, home modifications) than those living independently (equipment need only). Type of disability did not influence request type. Qualitative data further indicated the ‘‘last resort’’ nature of respite requests, particularly for younger applicants (under 45 years of age) indicating critical unmet needs in the community.
Conclusions: Results demonstrate the vital role of NFP organisations and philanthropic funds in supporting daily lifestyle aids and equipment (including respite) that might otherwise not be funded for people with complex disabilities. Although preliminary in its scope and prior to implementation of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Australia, findings suggest both opportunity and risk to the uptake of community-based micro-grant funding: opportunity for users through the provision of essential aids and lifestyle supports, and risk through over-subscription and devolving of responsibility for critical support resources from public sector.