A good life includes honouring the choices of people. This means recognizing their tastes, preferences, and values; it also means acknowledging their ability to discriminate, to select, and to choose. We know how determined our relatives can be to express their approval or disapproval. We know they are often aware of their limitations and express prudent judgment in the face of them. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware, understands, or accepts the capability of our loved one.
While some people assume people with disabilities are incapable of opinions or making decisions, that is not our view. We believe that people are fully capable of making their intentions known, but they may need support from others. Once a person’s ability to make choices is recognized, we can turn our attention to providing support to ensure their wishes are respected.
PLAN believes in nurturing inherent decision making abilities rather than giving someone else the power to make decisions. In British Columbia, PLAN families worked with government to create the Representation Agreement which enables adults to get decision making support without having to go to court or be declared incapable. A Representation Agreement is a legal plan signed by your relative to grant authority to people they choose to assist them manage their affairs.
While the legal options available will vary depending where you live, you can support decision making by:
- Respecting everyone’s inherent decision making ability
- Enabling everyone’s own, authentic, decision making voice
- Presenting genuine choices and communicating in a way that’s understood
- Helping to sort out and understand the options
- Support in making the actual decision and implementing what’s been decided