Learn, Do Not Copy!

Be able to implement and promote active participation

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2021 as per our Quality Assurance policy.

Active participation is the practice of promoting individuals to participate in the activities and relationships of everyday life as independently as possible.

This means involving each individual as much as possible in the planning and provision of their care and encouraging them to make choices for themselves. Individuals should be active partners in their own care and support rather than passive recipients because they know their needs better than anyone. By valuing their contributions, you can provide high-quality, person-centred care and support.

The application of active participation

As well as ensuring each individual is involved in their own care, active participation can be applied by encouraging them to do as much as they can do for themselves. For example:

  • Washing themselves
  • Preparing their own meals
  • Planning days out and other activities
  • Socialising with others

Sometimes, especially historically, care workers have done too much for the individuals that they support, which can stifle their independence and have a negative impact on their wellbeing. If an individual is unnecessarily having everything done for them then it can affect their self-worth and confidence. Of course, this should be balanced with an individual’s ability to perform tasks. A good rule of thumb is:

  • If an individual can something themselves, they should be encouraged to do so
  • If an individual can do part of a task, they should be encouraged to do as much as they can for themselves and care workers will support them to do the rest
  • If it is not possible for an individual to do something, then care staff will probably need to do it for them

You can support the application of active participation in your own practice by spending time with individuals and getting to know them well, having a genuine interest in them, keeping your own knowledge skills and understanding up-to-date (Continuing Professional Development) and, when necessary, seeking guidance from others such as the individual’s family or your manager.

Working with the individual and others

When planning an individual’s care and support, it is imperative that the individual themselves are involved in the process to ensure that their own needs, wishes and preferences are taken into account. Other stakeholders may also need to be involved in this process (for example, the individual’s family/friends, health professionals and social workers).

Everyone, including the individual receiving care, should be treated as equal partners, with a shared set of values and goals. Each stakeholder’s opinion should be respected and everyone should try to communicate as effectively as possible with one another. Working in partnership with others allows the sharing of knowledge and pooling of resources.

By involving the individual and others in the care-planning process you will gain invaluable insights into what that particular individual requires to maintain a high level of wellbeing and reach their potential. For example, finding out simple things like at what time they like to eat or whether they prefer to have a bath or a shower can make a big impact in their quality of life and help them to feel valued and in control.

How active participation addresses the holistic needs of individuals

The holistic needs of an individual are everything that they require to achieve and maintain a good quality of life. This can include aspects of life such as physical health, mental health, social interactions, spiritual needs and emotional needs.

By considering an individual’s holistic needs and preferences rather than particular aspects, you can provide care that caters for the whole person. For example, an individual may have religious beliefs that prevent them from eating meat, which can impact their physical health if shopping, meal planning and meal preparation are not taken into account.

Active participation addresses an individual’s holistic needs because they have choice and control about how their whole care and support package is planned and delivered, resulting in increased independence, self esteem, self-confidence and ultimately wellbeing. They will feel valued, know that they have a voice and be able to influence the quality of their care.

Active participation also reduces the likelihood of an individual coming to harm or suffering from abuse or neglect because they are more likely to speak up about things that they do not feel are right and will have more of an understanding of their rights. Because they will be more active, their physical health will benefit and being with others in social environments can positively affect their mental health and reduce the risks of social isolation.

Promoting the use of active participation

As well as working in a person-centred way and encouraging active participation yourself, it is important that you are able to promote this way of working to others by explaining the reasons for working in this way and the benefits it provides.

Primarily you will be promoting the use of active participation to your colleagues – for example, if they are new to care or their knowledge and understanding is outdated. You can promote active participation to your co-workers by modelling best practice and challenging any poor practice that you encounter. You can teach others through formal and informal training or as their mentor. Active participation should be addressed in supervision, appraisal and care plan reviews. Also, posters and leaflets in staff areas can be useful for providing information and developing understanding.

You may also need to explain this to others, such as the family of an individual receiving care. Sometimes families may think they know what is best for an individual, even though this is in conflict with what the individual themselves want so you may be required to explain to them the value of empowerment.

In addition, some members of the community may have outdated beliefs that individuals receiving care cannot be independent. Again, educating society by talking to them a modelling good practice can help to change their paradigm.

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