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VPA - A Family Guide to the Vulnerable Persons Act

Substitute Decision Making (SDM)

Substitute Decision Making (SDM)

The substitute decision-maker has the responsibility to encourage your son/daughter to participate in the decision making process and to take into account his/her wishes, values, and beliefs.

Let’s suppose your family has thought about and talked about what best meets the needs of your son/daughter and everyone agrees that an SDM is required. It is natural to feel some “nervousness” about the process so this section will address what to expect and how to be prepared. Frequently asked questions and answers that follow address many of the concerns and requirements. Remember, you don’t have to feel alone in this process. There are people to contact for support.

SDM Details

What is an SDM

When there is a decision to be made that your son/daughter is unable to make even with help, a substitute decision maker is appointed as a last resort. This person or persons then have the authority and responsibility to make the decision for your son/daughter.

Who can be an SDM?

A family member or friend of your son/daughter may be appointed and more than one person may be appointed. These persons must be adults who are willing, suitable and able to be a substitute decision maker for your son/daughter. If no one else is available, the Public Trustee is appointed as substitute decision maker as a last resort.

Service providers may not be appointed as substitute decision makers if they provide your son/daughter with services for which they are paid.

How Does it Work?

There are two areas in which a substitute decision maker may be appointed;

1 - SDM for Personal Care - This means matters concerning where to live, health care (like medication or surgery), education or training, where to work, leisure and recreation, etc.

2 - SDM for Property - This means matters concerning depositing, investing, paying bills, signing leases, major purchases, business decisions, etc. The SDM is required to keep a record of all transactions and provide regular reports to the Commissioner detailing the management of your son/daughter’s property.