Discovering your decision making power

David Graham

Under the NDIS people with a disability will have more choice and control in their life but, when it comes to supporting people with impaired capacity through developmental delay, intellectual disability or an acquired brain injury, there can be a lot of anxiety about what that really looks like.

The Discover Guide, a comprehensive guide to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) prepared by La Trobe University in conjunction with Endeavour Foundation – and funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency – aims to help people understand the various parts of the NDIS and how to access them.

Jenny Madden, Executive General Manager of Service and Clinical Governance at Endeavour Foundation, said that while independent decision-making is the most empowering option, an appropriate level of support can help to minimise risk.

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"The prevention of abuse of power, social isolation or marginalisation – not to mention the challenges of managing any personalised budget – are of course areas of concern, but where someone is able to conceptualise potential risks and has realistic assumptions about what they can and can’t achieve, empowering them to make their own decisions is the ideal.

"Supported decision making is one way of offering a little bit more help, and can include things like gathering the necessary information, thinking about the options and working out possible consequences," Ms Madden said.

"Most adults make decisions in consultation with other people, particularly when those decisions affect others, or when those decisions are important.  Social networks or ‘circles of support’ help to build supports for good decision-making. If the person with a disability doesn’t have social networks such as friends and family who can support them, it’s worth thinking about how those could be built.

"Crucially, it’s about ensuring that the decision-making process is about what the person wants instead of what others want for them, that all options have been explored and that checks and balances are in place to ensure that ‘support’ can’t tip over into ‘control’."

Endeavour Foundation is also currently supporting an Australian Research Council Linkage project being conducted by the Living with Disability Research Centre (LiDS) at La Trobe University, which aims to develop a support for decision making program for parents, carers and supporters of people with mild to moderate intellectual disability. The program will teach and evaluate the effectiveness of skills they can use when supporting their loved ones to make decisions of relevance to their everyday life.

Download a copy of the Discover Guide at www.endeavour.com.au, contact discover@endeavour.com.au, or call 1800 112 112, with your name and address to receive a hard copy by post.