Give only as much support as they need. This means your support should enable a person to do as much as they are able. The person you are supporting cannot learn new skills if you are doing the things they are able to, for them.
Don’t assume. Ask the person you are supporting what they might need from you. Remember that communicating support needs may depend on experience. If the person you are supporting has not used a web site like this before, or has not had decision making experience, they may not yet be able to tell you what they need. If this is the case, talk, listen, offer and make suggestions about how you could give support.
Review your support responses regularly. Seek out and include input from the person you are supporting. Remember support needs change with time and experience.
This site uses pictures and words to describe decision making. Some of the people who need support to use this site may also need support to read and understand the words. Remember that needing literacy support does not mean a person should be excluded from learning about or making decisions.
Be patient. Give people they time they need to process what they are reading or what you may be reading to them. Work at a pace that reflects the needs of the person you are supporting. Some people may be able to look at ten pages at a time. Others may be satisfied with just one.
Talk about what is on each page. This can reinforce what is being taught. Ask questions about what is being learnt to find out if the message has been understood. Invite the decision maker to explain the new information to you. This can be a great way for some people to consolidate what they have learnt. Be creative in the way you support decision makers.
Throughout the text you will see suggestions for starting conversations about decision making. Give learning support by talking to the person you are supporting about what they are learning. Talk about each topic in a way that makes it relevant to them. Think of examples from their life. Use conversations to build on understanding.
You may also be in a position to create opportunities for people to practise what they are learning in their day to day life. If you are supporting them in other ways, don’t assume that you know what they would like. Ask! Give them options and let them decide as often as you can, every day.
For people that do not have much experience or expectation of decision making, start small. Ask what they would like to wear. Start with two options and, when they are comfortable choosing between two, add another. Most people enjoy making decisions about what to eat. Don’t just offer choices about dinner. Ask if they would like to eat, and when!
Creating opportunities for people to practise decision making may well challenge the way in which you support someone in other parts of their life. Try to be aware of the assumptions and decisions you make on their behalf. We recommend that, regardless of your role as a supporter, you be aware of the principals for decision supporters. Learn as much as you can about decision making and the issues for people with disability. Do you really understand guardianship, how to manage risk, learn from mistakes, or about every person’s right to decide?