Supported Decision Making Agreements: Empowering Individuals with Disabilities
Supported decision making agreements are legal documents that allow individuals with disabilities to receive assistance from trusted supporters in making important decisions that affect their daily lives. The concept is based on the idea that every individual has the right to make decisions about their own lives, regardless of their disability. These agreements provide a framework for individuals to receive assistance in understanding information, exploring options, and making informed decisions.
The use of supported decision making agreements is becoming increasingly popular, especially in the disability rights movement. This is because traditional guardianship models have been known to restrict the rights of individuals with disabilities, leading to a loss of control over their own lives. Guardianship models often limit decision-making ability to the guardian, making it difficult for individuals with disabilities to exercise their own agency.
In contrast, supported decision making agreements aim to empower individuals with disabilities by providing them with the necessary support to make informed decisions. The agreements are tailored to the specific needs of each individual, and can cover a range of decisions, from daily living tasks to major life decisions.
The supporters who help in the decision-making process can be family members, friends, or professionals, who have been chosen by the individual. As part of the agreement, the individual is empowered to choose the level of support they require and can change their supporters if needed.
The benefits of supported decision making agreements are manifold. Firstly, they help individuals with disabilities to maintain their autonomy and independence. This is vital for their mental well-being, as they can continue to make decisions that affect their lives, rather than being subject to the whims of a guardian.
Secondly, the agreements ensure that the individual’s wishes are respected, as the supporters are required to advocate for the individual’s choices and preferences. This reduces the likelihood of conflict and provides a framework for clear communication between the individual and their supporters.
Lastly, supported decision making agreements can help to reduce the likelihood of abuse and neglect. Guardianship models have been known to lead to cases of abuse, as individuals with disabilities are often seen as vulnerable and easy targets. In contrast, supported decision making agreements provide a transparent framework for decision-making and reduce the likelihood of abuse and exploitation.
In conclusion, supported decision making agreements are a valuable tool for empowering individuals with disabilities. By providing them with the necessary support to make informed decisions, these agreements ensure that individuals with disabilities are able to maintain their autonomy, independence, and agency. The use of supported decision making agreements represents a shift in thinking, from traditional guardianship models, to a more rights-based approach, which places the individual at the center of decision-making.