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An essential factor in leading a fulfilling life is the consideration of both risks and management of risks. It is vital to identify a person’s human rights to be able to make their own choices in life. However, this right is based on the theory that a person can understand and evaluate the risks and consequences of choices made. It may be difficult when working with service user groups where ‘mental capacity’ may be a concern, For example, people with learning disabilities, people with autism, or elderly people. Where there is a concern about the mental capacity of a service user, a social worker is expected to carry out a full assessment of the capacity of the user. For example, their level of understanding, absorbing, and weighing information in decision-making (The Open University, 2020h). The principles and legal framework as outlined in The Mental Capacity Act (2005) must be followed in any decision-making and in ensuring that the service user’s opinion is considered and they are treated with respect while offering the same level of service available to everyone else.

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Taking into consideration that social work involves working alongside some of the most deprived and vulnerable members of society, living in poverty is often an underlying factor of a person experiencing mental health difficulties, with research showing that the demographic of people in poverty has shifted with the rise in unemployment for under 25’s almost doubling since 2008 or those in lower paid or part-time jobs increasing across Scotland (Aldridge et al., 2013). There is also a clear link between unemployment and mental health difficulties or poverty and mental ‘ill’ health (Mental Health Foundation, 2016). Support and resources to aid a person in finding employment or a course to study may improve their mental health and situation but social workers should be aware that having employment doesn’t necessarily mean that a person will be financially stable.

One of the contexts a social worker should consider supporting informed decision-making is poverty. A person’s cultural background is a vital part of their identity that needs to be considered when working to support informed decision-making, with a social worker needing to be aware of any possible stereotyping that may influence their practice (The Open University, 2020i). Establishing a support service that provides a service to Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) families of people with disabilities is identified to be a difficult process. It is known that social workers can individually adapt their approach to support culturally sensitive decision-making, however, it may prove difficult to support black and minority ethnic groups if social work departments do not make sure culturally appropriate information and resources are available, Dominelli (2009) cited in (The Open University, 2020j). An example of this sort of resource would be having multi-lingual information and accessible aids available for people who speak limited English to express their needs and wishes when being supported to make informed decisions.

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