Reflections of parents about value of training and mentoring for supported decision-making practice

Professor Christine Bigby1, Professor Jacinta Douglas1, Dr Elizabeth Smith1, Professor Terry Carney2, Dr Shih-Ning Then3, Dr Ilan Wiesel4

1La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia, 2Sydney University, Australia, 3Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, 4The University of Melbourne, Australia

The aim of this study was to increase the capacity of parents to enable adults with intellectual disabilities to participate in decision making and improve their own support practice by using an evidence-based Support for Decision Making Practice Framework. The research questions were, 1) what were parents’ reflections on training and the Framework and 2) did they apply learning (knowledge, skills and attitudes) from the Framework to their support practice.

A social constructionist perspective was used, and data collected through in-depth and repeated interviews with 17 parents of adults with intellectual disabilities after they had completed a one-day training program in the Framework and participated in 2-6 mentoring sessions. Data were analysed using grounded theory methods.

Training acted as a catalyst for parents to reflect more deeply on processes of decision support, assisted them to take a more deliberate approach to support, and prompted the use of steps and principles from the Framework associated with effective decision support.

The study highlighted the positive impact of training in an evidence-based practice framework and highlighted the value of investment in capacity building measures for parents to provide structure and guidance about support to ensure supported decision-making schemes realise their rights-based objectives.


Professor Christine Bigby is the Director of the Living with Disability Research Centre, LaTrobe University.