New Guide published by HIQA to help support Decision Making

Deirdre Corby introduces HIQA‘s new guide and leaflet, designed to support people who use services in making their own decisions about their lives.

  • HIQA have made a guide to help service-users make their own decisions in life and also the staff that support them
  • It is meant to be an aid to gaining more control over your own life
  • There are real life examples in the guide such as ‘going to a doctor’ etc.
  • It is written in a way that is clear and easy to understand

HIQA have published a new guide called Supporting people’s autonomy: a guidance document, and also a separate explanatory leaflet called My Choices: My Autonomy.

The reason for putting this guide together was to help support people who use services to make their own choices and decisions about their lives. To do this, the people who work in services need guidance and support themselves so they know the best way to help people make the best decisions.

Therefore the guide is about helping staff to support people who use all kinds of health and social care services to make decisions.

Before using this guide, services will have to consider a number of areas. They’ll need to consider the leaders and managers in the organisation, and whether they need training, so they have a good understanding of what supporting autonomy really means. This might result in some policy changes being made, or some changes in the organisation’s overall plans. In general the organisation will need to look at how frontline staff are supporting autonomy.

The quality of services will improve and people’s quality of life will get better when their autonomy is supported.

How the Guide is organised

The guide begins with details about the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and then some notes about the guide and the terms used.  Section A is an introduction and explains what autonomy is and why it is important, who the guide is for, and why it was developed. Section B explains the guide in detail with the key principles, and provides a framework for service providers. Guidance is given on the subject of respecting the person’s right to autonomy, avoidance of pre-judging, communication, balancing rights, risks and responsibilities, agreeing person-centred supports and how to implement and evaluate supportive actions. Finally in this section, there is important information regarding barriers to autonomy.

Using the Guide

The guide is easy to use as it gives examples to help you understand the practical aspects of supporting autonomy.  There are case studies in areas such as people going to their GP, people who use intellectual disability services or older people with dementia. At the end of the guide there are lots of resources explaining areas such as the law and how it impacts on autonomy. One of the best resources is at the very end, in Appendix 5.  This is a Self-reflection checklist for health and social care providers, so they can check if they are respecting and promoting autonomy.

How to find out more

You can go to the HIQA link below, which will bring you to the page that links to the full guide and the explanatory leaflet.

Or contact:  Health Information and Quality Authority Dublin Regional Office, George’s Court, George’s Lane, Smithfield, Dublin, D07E98Y.

Phone: +353 (0) 1 814 7400


03 - Deirdre CorbyDeirdre Corby PhD. is a Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Human Sciences at Dublin City University, with a particular interest in service user involvement and in education at post-secondary and higher education for people with intellectual disability.