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Building Networks for Life

Personal Support Networks


A personal support network is a group of people who meet regularly to become the foundation of your future plan. They carry out functions that are difficult for a vulnerable person to carry out on their own. For some at the center of this circle of support, this will mean getting practical assistance with housing, employment and recreation. For others, it will mean developing closer ties to neighbors and community. The companionship, emotional support and feedback of network members create a bridge from isolation to citizenship in the community.

Personal networks insure a safe and secure future throughout the life of your loved one with a disability and contribute to their quality of life by:

  • Advocating on behalf of your relative

  • Providing links to others in the community

  • Securing and monitoring supports and services

  • Spending time with the person

  • Planning, dreaming, socializing and having fun

  • Providing security and a sense of relief for all family members

  • Acting as a resource for executors and trustees

  • Providing potential executors and trustees

  • Keeping key players well-informed

  • Acting as representatives and supporting decision-making

  • Providing a forum for network members to support one another


Personal networks meet as a group about four times a year in a home or other community setting. They are led by a PLAN RI representative we call a Facilitator. This person also keeps a summary of ideas generated and helps people make commitments to action to implement the Personal Futures Plan.

Network Members

While the network Facilitator is paid by the family or their estate, the people involved in a personal network are not paid to be there. Rather, their involvement is based on caring and a commitment to work together on behalf of the person with a disability. They often include brothers and sisters, family and friends, neighbors, members of faith communities, co-workers, employers, and occasionally, a professional service provider. Virtually anyone can be a member of a personal support network providing that they genuinely care about the person in the center of the group.

A mutual bond grows as the member and the network enjoy shared interests, explore new experiences together, and help one another appreciate life more fully. As with all friendships, these are freely chosen and freely given. We look for people who may have similar interests to your relative - people who want to help your relative overcome challenges, realize goals and follow dreams.

Personal networks do not replace families, but the blessing and cooperation of the family is required to allow network members to make their contribution. They do continue after the death of the family caregivers and function as your eyes, ears, arms, and legs. They are often critical to ensuring that trust monies are spent in the best interest of your relative. Networks are what ultimately make the difference in creating a meaningful and rich life for individuals with a disability. Networks create safety and security. They are key to all aspects of a good life.

2011 Featured Network


So let's get right down to it. In matters of future planning, love is not enough. Planning is an act of courage. Planning for the future when you have a son, daughter, brother, sister, or any relative with a disability means planning to let go. PLAN RI can provide a continuing good life when that happens

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