What is a Circle of Support? (And How to Build One)

A circle of support refers to a group of people who come together to help support a person with a disability. The circle is a community that includes friends, family, care workers, teachers or other important people. The aim is to support the person with a disability throughout their life.

Circle members can help to tackle problems or give advice. Their contributions focuses on the well-being of the person with a disability. They might meet or communicate via email or SMS.

Why a Circle of Support is important

Establishing a Circle of Support means you get help to make decisions. A strong Circle of Support provides reassurance to primary carers. It can also help spread the load of care responsibilities. Because you'll always have someone to talk to or rely on for support.

Having a Circle of Support can also help lower anxiety about asking for help or where to turn for support.

The principles of a Circle of Support

There are a few principles to be aware of if you're considering establishing a Circle of Support:

  • The Circle of Support focuses on the individual with the disability. So the support group should reflect their identity and values.

  • There's no right way to establish and run a Circle of Support. There's also no need to be too prescriptive about how it works.

  • A Circle of Support should naturally develop from existing support networks. People who care about the person with a disability and want to focus on their well-being.

  • The Circle of Support doesn't replace the role of family or professional services.

  • Members aren't responsible for personalised care or support plans. They focus on what's important to the person with a disability.