HALT: how to handle a shift in disability support routines over the holidays

Posted 8 months ago by David McManus
You may experience disruptions to your disability support routine as many businesses shut their doors over the holiday period. [Source: Shutterstock]
You may experience disruptions to your disability support routine as many businesses shut their doors over the holiday period. [Source: Shutterstock]

Finances, families and fireworks can add to the stress of December/January. What can you do to stay strong?

Key points:

  • LiveBig is a leading provider of allied health and assessment services for people with disability and a National Disability Insurance Scheme plan
  • To see when your local Services Australia centre will reopen, please visit the closure information page to learn more
  • Christmas can be a troublesome time for people who are struggling with mental health crises


LiveBig Chief Executive Officer Juliet Middleton has advised people with disability and their caregivers to practice self-care during the holiday period, as support routines may be affected.

The CEO said that the HALT system was a great way to ensure positive mental health outcomes during the celebrations and challenges the period brings. HALT stands for ‘hungry,’ ‘angry,’ ‘lonely’ or ‘tired’ and Ms Middleton said that people can use the acronym to take care of themselves and recognise their own needs to the best of their abilities.

“Over the Christmas break, as businesses temporarily close their doors, clients with disabilities experience a shift in their usual support routines. Allied health clinicians typically recommend exercises and activities to sustain engagement during this period, but the absence of face-to-face appointments can heighten the sense of isolation,” she said.

“Furthermore, with family and friends often away for the holiday season, individuals who typically rely on their presence may encounter intensified negative emotions and an increased [sense of] loneliness.”

Ms Middleton compared self-care to the standard oxygen mask protocol that is explained before a plane departs from the airport, as travellers are instructed to apply their masks before attempting to support those around them.

“You can’t provide care and support to other people if you neglect your own health and well-being,” she said.

Juliet added that this built resilience when applied to other aspects of life as well, such as juggling too many tasks at once and feeling overwhelmed. Instead of multitasking, the CEO recommends that people focus on one task at a time for efficient performance. This can be achieved through honing in on two priorities each day, dedicating time to them, working in intervals to achieve them, blocking distractions and managing stress.

The LiveBig executive told Talking Disability Deputy Editor David McManus that the holiday period can be a double-edged sword and that it was important to have a back-up plan in place to lean on other avenues for disability care.

“When we’re supporting our clients, we talk a lot about building their capability and that’s different for every individual. That includes things like […] ‘what is their plan for these periods, where someone is less available, one of their supports, their carer or their family?’

“If something happens and you do need a bit more help, something unexpected has happened with your physical or mental health, where do you go?

“That’s about having that plan — it might be having a post-it note on the fridge with some numbers to call, it might be some notes in your phone, it may be a provider after-hours phone number — it’s about being prepared.

“That’s something we talk about a lot because during [sic] any day of the year, a carer or your paid support can become unwell or unavailable. It’s a good thing to do irrespective of whether it’s that festive holiday season or not.”

Ms Middleton said that a person with disability or their carer wouldn’t have to dedicate large parts of each day to practice self-care and planning.

“Self-care doesn’t require a full weekend away but can be as simple as taking five minutes for yourself each day. By nurturing your well-being, you ensure that you can find your joy during the festive season.”


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If you live with disability, what do you consider the most daunting part of the holiday period? Finances, fireworks or family? Let the team at Disability Support Guide know how you face the mad dash to December.