We all rely on the advice of others when making important decisions in our lives. We may consult with family, friends, or people we trust when making decisions such as where to live, who we want to spend time with, important health decisions, and many others.
Some members in our community are at a higher risk when asking for help in making their decisions. Often an assumption that asking for help means the decision is too complicated or complex for them to understand. By asking, the decision may be completely taken away from them instead of supporting them in the decision-making process. As a result, this can takeaway an individual’s decision-making rights and even their capacity. Currently, this is legally recognized as Substitute Decision Making or Guardianship.
The Brockville and District Association for Community Involvement strives daily to educateand advocate for the right for a person’s will and preference to be valued and heard. We believe that people are happier, healthier, and safer when they are involved in decisions about their own lives and when the natural decision-making process of referring to our friends, family and neighbours, something we all do, is formalized.
Supported Decision Making is a way to provide an alternative to Substitute Decision Making or Guardianship. Rather than removing a person’s rights and assigning them to another person, Supported Decision Making formalizes the resources and supports around someone that best allows a person to control the decisions that affect their lives. The essence of Supported Decision-Making is ensuring someone does not lose their legal person hood and capacity in the process of making legal decisions. This is done with the supports of people around them whom they know and trust. When people are required to make a decision, many have the capacity to express personal preferences especially when supported by those who truly know and care for them.
The challenge we face is changing the law and community bias to recognize that all people have the right to control and participate in the decisions that affect their lives. In many cases, this can be achieved at the local level, but in others, it will require legislative change to recognize the authority of supportive networks.