An informed choice means that a person has the information and support to think the choice through and to understand what the reasonably expected consequences may be of making that choice. It is important to remember that too much information can be oppressive and individuals have differing needs in relation to how information is presented to them. Professionals and organisations must be able to demonstrate that they have taken these individual needs into account.
Enabling people to make informed choices does not mean the local authority or provider organisation should abdicate its responsibility to ensure people have a good quality of life. For example if a person „chooses? to stay in bed all day, every day, the local authority or provider organisation has a responsibility to explore what is happening and respond to this appropriately, working to ensure that the individual fully understands the consequences of their decision. It is not acceptable to simply accept such a decision at face value if this would put the individual at significant risk, as acts of omission can be considered to be abusive.
Making choices To promote the dignity of all individuals they should be fully involved in any decision that affects their care, including personal decisions (such as what to eat, what to wear and what time to go to bed), and wider decisions about their care or support. Choices can only be made if people have information. If they know the options, the risks and possible implications they can make the choice that is right for them. This is ‘informed’ choice. Sometimes decisions are difficult even when an individual has all the information available. There are a number of ways that you could help the individual to make informed choices. You can explain information, find people who can share their experiences or ask for the help of specialist workers. It might also support them to involve other people they trust, like friends or relatives. An advocate might be an additional option to help someone to make a decision where they need additional help to understand and consider their options and the risks. Sometimes an individual may not be able to understand and retain the information they need to make a decision or communicate their choice. If this is the case they may lack the mental capacity to make the decision. The individual may be able to make day-to-day decisions, for example what to wear and what they want to eat, but not able to make complex decisions – for example, about money or medical issues. In situations where you are not entirely sure about the individual’s capacity, please seek additional advice or guidance.