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What is Supported Decision Making?

Here’s What You Need to Know About Supported Decision Making

Supported decision making refers to an assistance program that helps persons with disabilities in making life decisions. Assistance is available in a range of areas. Supported decision making is not a one-size-fits-all program; ideally, it is flexible and fully customized to each individual. Some of the areas where supported decision making can offer assistance include financial management, employment, education, housing, legal, and relationships. Within these areas, supported decision making can assist persons with understanding all of their available options, becoming more focused and clear, considering the consequences of different choices and communicating with relevant parties to achieve ideal results.  

What is Supported Decision Making?

In many (but not all) cases, supported decision making can eliminate the need for guardianship. Most importantly, it allows people to experience life with a degree of autonomy while also receiving support and guidance along the way. Supported decision making does not guarantee a person will not make mistakes or decisions that are less than ideal; however, this can in its own way be positive and an important part of the learning process. Making life decisions FOR someone will be necessary in some cases of severe disability or if a person becomes incapacitated. However, whenever possible, it is always preferable to allow people to voice their ideas and express their preferences. Supported decision making is characterized by advice and encouragement – not taking over and making the decisions for them.  

Some of the areas where supported decision making can assist include:

Representative Payee

A supported decision-making representative can help with the management of income related to SSI or other Social Security benefits. The client is assisted in budgeting and using their income effectively for living expenses.  

Special Needs Trust

A pooled trust can help with managing financial assets without risk of loss of benefits if there are resource limits. This can ensure an individual’s resources are protected and that only they benefit from these funds.  

Power of Attorney

A person can be designated to make financial and/or medical decisions and take related actions on their behalf.  

Informed Consent

For adults who lack the capacity to fully understand their options enough to make appropriate decisions, individuals can be designated to make key decisions for them. These persons may include a spouse, guardian, someone who has power of attorney, parents, adult children or adult brothers and sisters.  

Where to find Supported Decision-Making services

Again, there is no formulaic approach to supported decision making; ideally, the process and its programs are kept flexible so that they can be customized to each individual situation. The goal is to honor each person by meeting them where they are. The facilitator can then strive to ensure their clients’ wishes are heard and respected. RISE is here to assist in the process of connecting persons with the right supported decision-making program. We offer a link between people who have disabilities with services that can greatly enhance their quality of life. Supported decision making can be a key component in this process, helping our clients to optimize their financial and personal lives. RISE also provides services such as day programs, residential settings, managed care, home, and community-based services, and much more. Interested in our services for yourself or for someone you know? Let us know!