The right to consent
To consent means to accept or agree to something.
Client involvement in the evaluation and selection of services to meet their needs is good professional practice but there is also a legal obligation to obtain client consent. Some legislation (e.g. the Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld) and the Disability Services Act 2006 (Qld), enshrines the client's right to participate in decision-making related to case management.
If you fail to gain the consent of a client before you provide a particular service or involvement, then you may be in breach of a number of civil laws.
Involving clients in decision-making
After investigating the range of service options or strategies available, clients can be supported to evaluate the options using a range of methods such as:
- trialling service options
- asking questions
- discussing options in small groups
- discussing options with key stakeholders within their social networking support network
- discussing options with others who have experienced these strategies.
Supporting clients in the decision-making process
Examples of strategies to support client decision-making could include:
- giving the client time and space without the support worker’s involvement to adequately explore all the options and make some decisions
- asking open questions, e.g. ‘What do you think about …?’
- listening to the client’s concerns
- reflecting the feelings and content of client responses
- involving a trusted friend/mentor or other key people from their support/professional networks.
Read the following case study and answer the questions that follow.
Will is a youth worker who sometimes provides court support for young people as part of his role. He attends court to support Luke, who is charged with truanting. Luke arrives with his mother, who is berating him about the charges. Luke’s mother sees Will’s presence as an opportunity to pressure Luke to change his ways, to ‘sort himself out’. She attempts to influence Will to assist her to communicate this message to Luke.
1. What should Will's main considerations be in this scenario?
Family harmony is important for both Luke and his mother.
However, the mother’s interests come secondary to Luke’s.
2. How should Will approach this situation?
With Luke’s consent, Luke and his mother should be encouraged to use this as an opportunity to express Luke’s difficulties in his school environment.
Logbook Activity -Service consent forms