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Independent living

When you reach the age of 16 and are no longer in compulsory education you can begin to make your own decisions. This can include taking control of your Education Health and Care Plan if you are able to and preparing to live more independently.

How are your wishes recognised?

Your rights

Everyone has the right to have their wishes and aspirations for the future recognised and, according to the Equality Act everyone has the right to be treated fairly. The following principles should apply to the support you receive as you move in to adult life.

The Department for Health has produced an easy-read fact sheet about the Equality Act and what it means for you.

When you aren’t well it can sometimes be left to other people to make decisions for you. You can make decisions in advance to help other people know what would be best for you.

The NHS have produced an easy read fact sheet about making decisions in advance.

The following pointers explain how choices about your care should be made:

  • Confidentiality
    The person seeing you should explain how any information you give them might be shared, and about your right to talk to someone on your own.
  • Consent
    The person seeing you should check that you agree with the help they are suggesting and explain other possible choices if you do not agree.
  • Your Needs
    If you or your family need help from an interpreter or want information in a certain way, then the health or social care practitioner, or the person working with you, should try and organise this.
  • Complaints
    If you are not happy with the help you have received you can find more information about how to give us feedback or make a complaint on our website.

You can also make your wishes known in advance to help those who may be making decisions on your behalf. For more information read the Department for Health’s guide about decision making.

Advocacy Duty

The Care Act 2014 says that: ‘the advocacy duty will apply from the point of first contact between a person and their local authority and at any later stage of the assessment, planning, care review, safeguarding enquiry or safeguarding adult review. If it appears to the authority that a person has care and support needs, then a judgement must be made as to whether that person has substantial difficulty in being involved and if there is an appropriate individual to support them. An independent advocate must be appointed to support and represent the person for the purpose of assisting their involvement if these two conditions are met’.

The Mental Health Capacity Act

The Mental Health Capacity Act applies to everyone involved in the care, treatment and support of people aged 16 and over living in England and Wales who are unable to make all or some decisions for themselves.

It is important for young people preparing for adult life as it ensures that their wishes are heard and that they can make decisions about how they live their life.

  • It is designed to restore power to vulnerable people who lack capacity.
  • It supports those who have capacity to choose and help plan for their future.
  • The Code of Practice provides support and guidance for carers and all professionals who have a duty of care to comply with it.
  • If capacity is lacking, the checklist described in the code must be used in order to establish the best interests of the person concerned.

More information

A person-centred approach

Person-centred care means care that is designed around the individual and the aims and objectives that are important to them.

The care that you receive should be person-centred and should put you should at the centre of planning and decision making, allowing you to have a say in exactly what is important to you. This could include your interests, your aspiration and what makes you happy.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to check if the approach to your care has been person-centred:

  • Have you been prepared to participate in the meeting, planning or review?
  • Do you know what ‘the point’ of the meeting is?
  • Do you know and can you express when things are going well and when they are not?
  • Have your communication needs been addressed?
  • Have you been asked what your views are?
  • Do you feel your views have been heard and recorded?
  • Do you feel that the review/plan/assessment is reflective of your whole life?
  • If people are helping you to make certain decisions, do they understand what is important to you?

Setting your own goals

If you aren’t sure about what you want to do yet then you could start off by asking yourself the following questions about your interests.

  • What do want to achieve with your life?
  • Would you like to go to college? Further education? Would you like a job? What knowledge and/or qualifications do you need to do this?
  • Do you want to volunteer some of your time to a good cause or get involved in local events, politics etc.?
  • How would you like your home life to be in the future?
  • Do you want to develop your skill in a certain sport or other physical activity?

A useful way of planning how to achieve your goals is the SMART plan:

Specific – you will need to have a specific goal in mind.
Measurable – how will you know when you have reached your goal?
Achievable– make sure you set a goal that is achievable.
Relevant and realistic – If you are looking for a skilled job you will not be able to achieve this without the relevant qualification or experience.
Time – set yourself time limits to reach your overall goal or individual milestones.

‘Skills You Need’ have produced a useful Priority Matrix to help you manage your time and work out what decisions are most important.