Alternatives to Guardianship: Supported Decision Making - Fountain of Hope

Feb 4, 2022


Welcome to Fountain of Hope, a community organization committed to fostering inclusion and providing support to individuals in making informed decisions. In this article, we will explore alternatives to guardianship, focusing on one such alternative called supported decision making.

Understanding Guardianship

Guardianship is a legal arrangement that grants one person or entity the authority to make decisions on behalf of someone else who is unable to make decisions for themselves. While it is intended to protect vulnerable individuals, it can sometimes restrict their autonomy and independence. That is why alternatives to guardianship, like supported decision making, are gaining recognition as valuable options.

What is Supported Decision Making?

Supported decision making is a person-centered approach that allows individuals with cognitive disabilities or impairments to retain their legal capacity while receiving support in making decisions. Instead of granting decision-making authority to a guardian, the individual relies on a network of trusted supporters, such as family members, friends, or professionals.

How Does Supported Decision Making Work?

In supported decision making, the individual identifies their goals, preferences, and values, and works collaboratively with their supporters to gather information, consider options, and make decisions. The supporters' role is to assist the individual in understanding the relevant information, weighing the pros and cons, and communicating their choices.

Key Principles of Supported Decision Making

  • Autonomy: Supported decision making respects and promotes the autonomy and self-determination of individuals.
  • Inclusion: It encourages the involvement of supporters who are chosen by the individual, ensuring their voices are heard.
  • Empowerment: Supported decision making empowers individuals by providing them with the necessary tools and supports to make informed decisions.
  • Flexibility: It recognizes that decision-making processes can vary and adapts to meet the unique needs and abilities of each individual.

Benefits of Supported Decision Making

Supported decision making offers several advantages over traditional guardianship:

  • Promotes self-advocacy and independence: By involving individuals in decision-making processes, supported decision making empowers them to advocate for their own needs and preferences, fostering independence.
  • Maintains dignity and respect: Supported decision making prioritizes the individual's dignity, ensuring their voice is valued and respected throughout the decision-making process.
  • Preserves family and community connections: Unlike guardianship, which can create a divide between individuals and their loved ones, supported decision making encourages the active participation of family members and friends.
  • Encourages personal growth: Through active involvement in decision making, individuals can build essential skills, increase their confidence, and experience personal growth.

Implementing Supported Decision Making

Implementing supported decision making requires a collaborative and person-centered approach. It involves:

  • Identifying key supporters: The individual selects trusted supporters who can provide assistance based on their skills, knowledge, and understanding of their needs.
  • Establishing clear communication: Effective communication is vital in supported decision making, ensuring that information is shared, understood, and respected by all parties involved.
  • Building a support network: Connecting with community resources, support organizations, and professionals who specialize in supported decision making can strengthen the overall support network.
  • Regular review and reassessment: Supported decision making is an ongoing process. Regular check-ins and assessments help to ensure that the support provided aligns with the individual's evolving needs and preferences.


Supported decision making offers a promising alternative to guardianship, allowing individuals to retain their autonomy and make decisions with the support of their trusted network. At Fountain of Hope, we believe in promoting inclusion and empowering individuals in their decision-making processes. To learn more about supported decision making and other alternatives to guardianship, please explore our website and get in touch with us to see how we can assist you. Together, we can create a supportive and inclusive community where everyone's voice is heard.

Shane Shin
I'm glad you found the approach interesting and empowering! Fountain of Hope's focus on supported decision making as an alternative to guardianship truly highlights the importance of inclusivity and respect for individuals' choices. This approach enables individuals to retain their autonomy while receiving the support they need. It's wonderful to see organizations like Fountain of Hope paving the way for more inclusive practices. Keep up the great work!
Nov 11, 2023
Kirk Ingle
Interesting and empowering approach.
Oct 4, 2023