Autonomy

Added on 12/07/2008
Updated on 29/09/2009

Autonomy is about having control and choice over one's life. Being supported to continue with routine daily tasks such as shopping, walking a dog or going to a social club can be instrumental in maintaining a person's autonomy. Autonomy is particularly at risk where a person needs help with their most basic and private needs, as may happen in hospital or residential care, or when impairment affects their ability to communicate. Staff providing personal care should never make the mistake of assuming that because they know the individual well, they always know what their preferences will be. Choosing what to wear, what to eat or drink or where to spend their time in a residential home are all examples of how people can retain autonomy over key aspects of their daily lives, even when they have complex needs and require a high level of support.

Individual budgets are a means of enabling people who require social care support to manage their own care through a notional budget, without having to go as far as managing a Direct Payment. The approach has been piloted by thirteen local authorities and the full evaluation will be available in the autumn.

Older people need time to recuperate after illness or surgery so access to rehabilitation services such as intermediate care is crucial. All too often older people are rushed into long term residential care because they are not given sufficient opportunity to benefit from such services.

People with dementia are often assumed to be incapable of exercising choice and control. The draft National Dementia Strategy has based its recommendations and proposals on what people with dementia and their carers have identified as important in improving the quality of their experience, and puts them at the heart of planning, commissioning and providing services.

CSIP has produced a toolkit for strengthening the involvement of people with dementia and their carers.