Supported Decision-Making is a fancy way of describing how we all make choices. We all need help making decisions, every single day. Think about it: when the doctor says you have a “somatic injury” or a “brachial obstruction,” or something else that you may not understand, what do you do? When you don’t know the difference between “itemized” and “standard” deductions, how can you file your tax return? When the mechanic says your car has a “blown head gasket,” how do you know whether to pay for repairs?
You probably ask a friend or family member what to do or if they know someone who can help you cut through the jargon so you can understand what’s going on and what you need to do. When you don’t know enough to make a decision, you find people who can help you. It could be your brother the accountant with tax questions or your friend the nurse when you need medical information or advice.
When you do that, you’re using Supported Decision-Making. Some people may need different types of help or more help than you. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make their own decisions. It just means they make their decisions using the help they need and want. Supported Decision-Making is a way people stay in charge of their lives while receiving any help they need to do so.
The National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making (NRC-SDM) can help you find information on Supported Decision-Making, connect you with people and organizations that may be able to help you, and answer your questions. NRC-SDM is dedicated to advancing the “Right to Make Choices” of people with disabilities and older adults, through training, information-sharing, technical assistance, research, and promotion of promising practices in Supported Decision-Making.
Remember: EVERYONE has the Right to Make Choices and EVERYONE needs a little help. To learn more about supported decision-making, request a consultation or training for your organization or group, please email Holly Ceasar, Staff Attorney or call her at 202-448-1448 (direct).