Informed Decision Making

This is the first in a series of posts that will reflect our training philosophies and how that effects the services that we provide.  This first post is about Informed Decision Making and how we can teach and encourage people how to make informed decisions. 

Historically people with disabilities have been isolated from their communities and believed to be not capable of making decisions for themselves. People have been systematically denied the right to make decisions, takes risks and experience life in the way that people without the label of disabilities do. 

Our mission is for people with disabilities to be an equal part of society. To that effect we have undergone an extensive cultural change at Aspire where we have trained our staff to educate and encourage people to make informed decisions. A disability is not a reason for depriving any person from making the same choices other people have the right to make.  We have been talking about choice for a long time.  As policies to support inclusion have evolved, we as a society, recognize that people with disabilities, regardless of the severity of disability, should be able to enjoy the same choices and options available to other people in society. It also means that public funds and programs should support people in making choices and selecting options, not to limit them to lifestyle choices and living conditions other people do not enjoy.   The Center form Medicare and Medicaid Services redefined Home and community based settings in 2015 from what services are or are not provided to personal autonomy and independence of choice.  Each person receiving services will have a person-centered plan to document options and different types of settings considered by the individual during the person-centered planning process, based on the individual’s needs, preferences, and for residential settings, resources available for room and board.

We teach our staff that no decision is too small.  We recognize that for some people the choices that they make on a day to day basis are limited to simple things such as the clothes they wear, the food they eat and the time they go to sleep. To that end we have trained our staff to provide options and education regarding those options so that people can make an informed decision starting with matching clothes, to making friends, to getting a job. There is a quote by Tina Campanella that states “Our primary responsibility is to be sure we provide people with the opportunity and individualized support needed to develop the skills and abilities needed in different situations and to not knowingly abandon people to make choices and pursue activities for which they are poorly equipped.”

The level of independence outlined in a person's ISP plan determines the services that we provide.  This includes but is not limited to shopping, hygiene, money skills, budgeting, laundry, cleaning home, medication assistance, doctors’ appointments and orders, physical therapy, and transportation.  At times events or activities are organized to occur outside of typical business hours and while we would like everyone’s attendance and encourage people to participate, our philosophy is to encourage and assist them in making an informed decision about that activity.  Should they choose to not attend an event we cannot force them to go. As an agency we will support them in the decision they make by providing pertinent information and education regarding their decision.  We understand that decisions have consequences and we have prepared our staff with training on the informed decision making process and how to teach the people we support to make informed decisions. 

The trainings referenced in this article are Informed Decision Making and Person Centered Thinking class. Both of these classes are offered on a monthly basis during our new employee orientation week.  If you would be interested in taking one or both of these classes, please contact Meranda Leidholdt to sign up at (605) 229-0263.

tj myers