Toni's story

Toni feels more independent with EIF

Toni works out at her gym in Whakatane.
Toni works out at her gym in Whakatane.

25-year-old Toni is ready and waiting in her pink and black gym gear as her Mum, Robyn, parks the car. She loves going to her circuit class.

The instructors and members give Toni a warm welcome as she swipes her card at the reception. She climbs onto the first machine with a grin and waves goodbye to her Mum.

‘I love going on the machines and then I change stations and then after that I do stretches. The people (instructors) help me,’ Toni says.

It’s a big step for Toni to be at the gym without support. A year ago she relied largely on her family due to her intellectual disability. She was finding it hard to do what she wanted because she was restricted in what she could use her disability support funding for.

Now with the help of Enhanced Individualised Funding (EIF), Toni is taking charge. With EIF Toni decides when and where she needs support in order to do the things she enjoys. She has also chosen to employ her support worker, Nikki, who had worked with Toni previously. The two get along well.

‘I feel happy with Nikki helping me. She’s a very nice person. We do a lot of nice things together,’ Toni says.


Title: Toni’s story.

Toni is living life her way, with the support of Enhanced Individualised Funding (EIF).

She uses EIF to emply support workers who help her do what she enjoys in her community.

[The video shows Toni getting ready to go out, and being driven into town to go to the gym where she works out. This is intercut with an interview with Toni’s mother.]

Robyn, Toni’s mother: My daughter Toni is on an Enhanced Indiviualised Funding and we felt it more beneficial for Toni to be able to use her funding more directly for her on a weekly basis.

She is feeling more independent, more confident which is important for Toni to be able to do things without Mum or Dad. Through Support Net we’re allocated an amount per year so we had to work out how much that would cover how many hours a week to pay a support worker. Finding someone that they can relate to and get on with is quite a major– We had this support worker who is brilliant. So, we asked her if she would be happy to be able to do these hours for us.

[The video now switches to an interview with Toni.]

Toni: Nikki, we work together. She’s a very nice person and we do a lot together.

I go to the gym just to lose weight. I like going on the squares and change about for 30 seconds and then I change stations.

[The video switches back to the interview with Robyn. The intercut scenes show Toni carrying groceries up to the door of a house, where she greets an older woman with a hug.]

Robyn: And she’s gained the independence that if her support worker is not here, I can take her and just drop her off. I’m not allowed there, that's her area and she feels independent enough now to go herself. Also she helps an older lady with her shopping and feels like she’s contributing, I suppose, and meeting other people we don’t know. So, she feels quite good in herself that she can talk about other people that she’s helped.

[Interview with Shirley, the woman Toni greeted before. The intercut scenes show Toni helping her to put the groceries away, and setting out pieces of chocolate slice.]

Shirley, friend: Nikki bought her and it’s her caregiver who was my caregiver and she was talking about Toni and said can Toni come in, can I drop her into the home. What do you think? I said ‘yeah bring her in’. And we just hit it off like that.

So four walls aren’t very good when you have nobody coming in and out. It’s neat that they come in and she just fits in.

We go for lunch and then we go shopping and she brings it in and puts it all away for me. If there’s a little job here she’ll do whatever you ask and then she was cooking and that was the best thing in the world. And she’s great company.

[Back to the interview with Robyn, intercut with footage where Toni is hanging out with Shirley, playing with her dog and also doing a jigsaw puzzle.]

Robyn: She relies on myself or my husband, or her sister if she is home, to do anything and it’s given her that opportunity to get out and meet other people that she wouldn’t have through us. But it’s also, I think, made Toni a happier person because she does have that little bit more of independence which she wouldn’t have had before.

Title: Enhanced Individualised Funding (EIF) is part of the Ministry of Health's New Model for Supporting Disabled People. Visit www.health.govt.nz and search for ‘New Model’.

EIF has given Toni the flexibility to explore her hometown, Whakatane, and take part in the activities she wants to do. Nikki helps as needed, including on weekends.

Toni’s Mum Robyn has seen a big change in her daughter with the new freedom that EIF offers.

‘She is feeling more independent and more confident, which is important for Toni. She can do things without Mum or Dad,’ Robyn says.

After the gym, Toni heads to visit elderly Whakatane resident Shirley. Today she’s dropping in for a cup of coffee and a puzzle. She often assists with grocery shopping and meal preparation too.

‘I help Shirley get her groceries that are on the list and I unpack them and put them in the right places. She gives me hugs when I come to her place and we do puzzles and cook and watch TV,’ Toni says.

The two met through Nikki, who also supports Shirley. They have a lot in common despite their 50-year-plus age gap and have become firm friends.

‘I love having her here. She’s great company. If there’s a little job here she’ll do whatever you ask and that’s the best thing in the world,’ Shirley says.

Their friendship has had a flow-on effect, with Toni now helping some of the other elderly residents near Shirley’s home.

‘She feels like she’s contributing and just being in the community in that situation she’s meeting more people as well,’ Robyn says.

Through getting out and about with Nikki, Toni is now feeling more comfortable in new social situations. She recently went on her first trip to visit her sister and brother in Wellington without the support of her parents. Nikki travelled with Toni who used EIF to cover the support hours needed for the trip.

‘It’s the first time she’s been able to go away without us and that’s really good for her,’ Robyn says.

Toni’s increased independence has benefitted the whole family. The pressure has eased and Toni is happier and more relaxed.

‘We were so tired before and we could only use Toni’s support for certain things. Now we have this support worker that’s brilliant. We’re finding for Toni’s benefit and our purposes, EIF is working really well,’ Robyn says.


Enhanced Individualised Funding (EIF) is part of the Ministry of Health’s New Model for Supporting Disabled People.

Read more about the people who have started using the Ministry of Health’s New Model for Supporting Disabled People in the New Model People Stories section.

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