I can, just let me decide: a supported decision making case study
Keywords:Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of The United Nations, supported decision making, person with intellectual disabilities, case study
As a deinstitutionalization process takes place in Lithuania and new services for people with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities are introduced, the most confusing aspect is the service Supported decision making. This service is an evolving model that address Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which declares that a person with a disability should not be stigmatized because of his/her disability, i.e., it must be developed the appropriate tools they may need to exercise their own capacity, their own will, and their own desires rather than those of others. Decision support is being developed as a new service in Lithuania and is being mixed with conventional social work practice. The chosen qualitative research methodology, one case study, allowed answering the following questions: how does the Supported decision-making service differ from the usual social work practice and how is it organized to enable people with intellectual disabilities to make decisions indepen dently? The case study revealed that a Supported decision-making service is a complex and long-term process. It took a long time for the person with intellectual disability to clarify his/her desires and wishes and to discover his/her personal voice. The case study revealed that an essential “tool” for the implementation of a Supported decision-making service is the ability to create an equal and reciprocal relationship. The research showed that the position of the Supported decision-making professional is different from that of the social worker. He or she is a silent defender of the rights of the person with disabilities, fighting for the person with disability to be heard, showing that the latter’s opinion is also important. The case study revealed that the social workers of the organization were more focused on the correction of the disabled person’s behavior, while the Supported decision making professional was a listener and advisor. The specific competences of the decision support were revealed, such as the ability to organize the phases of assistance and the translation of multiple information into an easy-to-read and augmentative alternative communication language. This article stresses that in the future, i.e., in the development of the Supported decision-making service in Lithuania, it will be very important for the specialists to fight for the legal capacity of the person with disabilities.