Duty of Care and Informed Decision Making

Competence in Decision Making

The law assumes that all adults are competent to make informed decisions unless they have been found, through due legal process, to be unable to do so.

Competence to make decisions is not necessarily linked to the level of disability.  Duty of Care dilemmas often arise for Employees who have doubts about the capacity of the Employer to make his or her own decisions.

Community standard dictates that support staff be aware of the limitations of their role.  it is not within their role to act as substituted decision makers unless appointed to do so through due legal processes.  A significant role of support staff is to provide relevant, useable, accessible information to enable the Employer to make informed decisions about as many aspects of their life as possible.  Support staff need to be looking for opportunities for the person to grow their competence.  The law assumes that we all grow competence and capacity as we mature. This applies to children and adults.


Workers may consider the following questions when considering how they provide support:

  • What am I doing to make it possible for this person to have more control over her or his life in the long term?
  • What am I doing to expand this person's experiences?
  • What am I doing to expand this person's relationships so that they are not relying on me alone for the realisation of all their rights?
  • What am I doing to ensure that they have more control and power within their relationship with me?
  • Am I making adequate use of opportunities to expand this person's experiences and relationships in order to better resource them to make their own decisions?
  • Why am I making this decision?
  • Is it my role?
  • Is there a part of this decision that should be made by someone else?

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