Supporting intellectually disabled people

'Everyday Decisions’ saw Professor Rosie Harding, Professor of Law and Society and Chair of the Socio-Legal Studies Association, and Dr Ezgi Tascioglu, Research Fellow, explore how people with intellectual disabilities, including those with learning disabilities and acquired brain injuries, made everyday decisions and how care professionals supported them when they do. 

The project considered how UK mental capacity law works in practice, in order to identify good practice and where practical changes, shifts in social attitudes and legal reforms are needed to secure the rights of intellectually disabled people.  


They found that instead of offering more support for more difficult decisions, such as medical, legal and financial ones, professionals often defaulted to making best-interest decisions instead of first helping people with intellectual disabilities to make their own choices. Current levels of support with decision-making falls short of the expectations and requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Support for making other decisions, such as those relating to day-to-day activities, food and clothing, is often very good and Professor Harding concluded that the tools developed in care practice to support these everyday decisions could be usefully extended to help intellectually disabled people make more difficult life choices and decisions. 


Other recommendations of the project included education, skills development and ‘scaffolding’ people towards making their own decisions, the support of community services aimed at disabled people, especially those run by and with them, as well as formal independent advocacy services, greater awareness of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, training for care professionals in its requirements and changes to legislation.