A promising model for personal budgets and personal assistance has been launched in the State of Salzburg/ Austria in 2017 providing flexible and needs based support without financial contribution, access to peer-counselling, and choice between the employer- or service-provider models. Lebenshilfe Salzburg, UNIC-project partner, is one of the service providers coordinating personal assistance through the latter model. Salzburg has been the first region in Austria giving access to persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with mental health issues to this type of support.
Positive evaluation results after a pilot-phase of two years led to budget increase and 35 users in 2021. Service users reported high satisfaction and considerable increase in quality of life for both models, also their families. Assistants were mostly happy with their tasks and working conditions.
One of the key challenges is moving towards legal entitlement and access for all persons with disability who want this type of support. Other aspects needing attention and refinement are recruitment, training of assistants (especially for persons with intellectual disability or mental health issues), salaries for skilled personal, (short-term) replacement for assistants, establishing opportunities for reflection among assistants, and adapting the model for persons with intellectual disabilities or mental health issues and high support needs.
Authors: Karin Astegger & LH Salzburg team