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VPA - A Family Guide to the Vulnerable Persons Act

Guiding Principles

The Five Guiding Principles To The Act

The Five Guiding Principles To The Act, interpreted into "everyday" language, are as follows:

1. The legislation tells us that vulnerable people are presumed able to make their own decisions.

2. Your son/daughter is encouraged to make his/her own choices.

3. If your son/daughter needs help to make a choice, the legislation encourages friends, family, and service providers to help him/her understand the choices to make an informed decision.

4. Any help provided must be respectful of your son/daughter’s privacy and dignity as an adult.

5. There may be a decision that your son/daughter is unable to make, even with help. As a last resort a substitute decision maker can be identified.

Application

How Do These Guiding Principles Apply to Our Family?

1. My son just turned 18 and he makes decision I don’t agree with. Can he do that?

Yes, the first guiding principle of the VPA states clearly that a person is presumed capable of making decisions on their own. Guiding principles 2,3 and 4 encourage strong support and assistance be provided to individuals as they learn to make their own decisions. Only as a last resort does guiding principle 5 allow for a substitute decision maker to be identified to make decisions for them. We must remember that this is good news for our sons/daughters and families. It recognizes that our sons/daughters have rights and abilities, something many of us have fought long and hard for.

2. How do I let my daughter make her own decisions when I see her making such bad choices?

This is one of the difficulties that we as family members experience as our children grow and become adults. It is our time to learn to let go and recognize that our sons/daughters may make decisions that we think are “bad.” In the larger scheme of things it might help if we asked ourselves “how big an issue is this really?” For example, is the situation life threatening, an unmade bed, or money spent frivolously . . . or somewhere in the middle? The vast majority of decisions that any of us make each day are not life or death but rather the ongoing opportunities to succeed, fail and try again. This is an integral part of learning and for the most part, fairly harmless. It is important that people with disabilities have good support, advice and information as they learn to make their own decisions. And it is equally as important that we get better at standing back and encouraging them to make those decisions on their own.

3. I heard that a year ago my son was hurt and no one told me. When I questioned the support worker I was advised that he requested I not be told. Can they do this?

As difficult as it is to sometimes acknowledge, our adult sons/daughters with disabilities now have access to the same rights and privacies as any other Manitoban.

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