Natural Supports. Do They Work? Depends.



There’s no denying it: as caregivers, providers and family members, we love  the idea of natural supports, but don’t really believe they will work.

Sure, you have read our blogs about Mikelle and how fantastic “the community” can be.  And, trust me, it can be incredible.  But, is community and natural supports  a replacement for the traditional service delivery system?  Can natural supports replace paid service providers?

Good question.  With long waiting lists for services in many states, it seems a logical step in moving transitioning young adults with disabilities off the coach and into the community.  Numerous professionals and service delivery systems believe in the possibility of natural supports, but do they understand the reality of day to day support needs? Perhaps.

Of course, we at Shining Beautiful do believe it is possible to develop natural supports.  They have filled in the gaps between family support and paid support. But, are they a replacement for paid support?

For some, yes.  For others, no.  It depends.

We’ve  gone out of our way to show what is possible and give you some ideas on how you might approach connecting to your unique community, developing those critical and key relationships while understanding those relationships change over time, mature in some cases and in others, simply run their course.

Developing natural supports is, well, natural.  So, is running for most.  But, how well we do it depends on the training and the investment we put into it.  Like running a marathon, it takes commitment. Lots of attention, lots of introductions and connections to find the one person who connects to your son or daughter who experiences a disability.

Will natural supports work for you and the person you support?  It depends.

Ask yourself these questions:

Do you like people?

A simple question, but an important one.  People who like people, or have connectors in their circle who naturally engage with people will do better than people who generally distrust people, are cynical and often pessimistic.  It takes a little hope, graciousness and a smile to get started in building good natural supports.

Do you get out in your community?

 Grocery shopping counts, so does getting your hair cut and getting car maintenance done.  Ask yourself, are you taking the time to connect, tell your story, even share a good recipe or where you caught the big fish?  Can you find someone in the grocery store who likes what you do?  We live in Denver, home of the Denver Broncos.  If we ever need to start a conversation, all we have to do is ask someone wearing a Bronco jersey what they think about the upcoming season. In seconds, we have a conversation going.  Our other fail safe methods are talking about Starbucks and purses.

Are you a regular? 

A new person is quickly accepted into a new community when they become a regular.  Keep showing up and watch natural supports begin to grown.  It just happens.


These are proven strategies for us at Shining Beautiful.  We have had some amazing results.

We believe that natural supports should remain natural. They had the flavor to life, but aren’t necessarily the meat and potatoes of a strong support system for many.

Think about it.  It might be worth the effort to check it out.  Stay tuned for more blogs on community and natural supports.

You can also check ou some of our videos on how we began our journey into building natural supports.