A Substitute Decision Maker is a person (or people) who will provide consent or refusal of consent for care and treatments for you if you are not mentally capable to do that for yourself.
Your role will be to make decisions for them if they can’t, like refusing or consenting to a treatment they’re offered.
A substitute decision maker is a person that makes healthcare decisions for someone who can’t speak for themselves.
A family member or friend may have chosen you to be their substitute decision maker. Your role will be to make decisions for them if they can’t, like refusing or consenting to a treatment they’re offered.
Agreeing to do this for someone means that you should be willing and able to make those healthcare decisions, honor their wishes even if it isn’t what you would choose for yourself and be confident enough to ask questions and speak up for them even in stressful times.
The best way to make sure that you can do all of these things is to talk to the person who has chosen you to help.
Make sure you understand what their wishes, values, and beliefs are so that you can speak for them. Ask them questions so that you can make sure you’ve got a good understanding of who they are and what they want.
Some questions that you could start with are “what’s important to you?” “What gives your life meaning?” or “What would worry you the most if you were sick?”
You don’t need to focus on specific medical treatments, just focus on who they are as a person to help guide your decision making.
So, how do you make a decision for someone else?
Think about what their wishes were when they were able to let you know how they felt and consider what their present health condition is.
If there isn’t a way to make their wishes happen or it’s a situation that you haven’t talked about, think about the risks and benefits of the treatment and then consider their values and beliefs so you can act in their best interest.
Remember, their wishes can change over time, so keep communication happening often so that you can stay up to date and stay confident that you’re making the right choices