Treat me right, treat me equal: using national policy and legislation to create positive changes in local health services for people with intellectual disabilities

Roberts A, Townsend S, Morris J, Rushbrooke E, Greenhill B, Whitehead R, Matthews T, Golding L.  Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programme, Division of Clinical Psychology, The University of Liverpool, Brownlow Hill, Liverpool, UK.  J Appl Res Intellect Disabil. 2013 Jan;26(1):14-25. doi: 10.1111/jar.12009.

BACKGROUND: Creative use of legislation can produce positive change in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. This may be ‘bottom-up’ or ‘top-down’ or at multiple levels and with multiple stakeholders.

METHOD: Using a human rights-based approach (HRBA), four initiatives to improve services for people with intellectual disabilities in the UK are described.

RESULTS: The first example explains the process of co-producing a DVD and board game to enable people with intellectual disabilities to understand their human rights. The second example considers the impact of organizational culture in the process of embedding a pilot evaluation of practical, human rights-based risk assessment and management tools. A third pilot project examines how the guiding principles of Mental Health Act (MHA) (2007) for England and Wales can be operationalized using an HRBA. Finally, improving equitable access to health care through a ‘top-down’ process of change involving the Green Light Toolkit is reported.

CONCLUSION: The authors consider how to approach the process and where to focus in the system, to realize meaningful change.