Empowerment in Health and Social Care has become something of a buzzword over the last few years, but what does it actually mean? Does empowerment create happier and healthier people, or are there other benefits to using it in the workplace?
In this article, we’ll look at what empowerment really means, how it can be used within Health and Social Care, and some examples of where it has been used successfully in practice.
We’ll also take a brief look at some of the criticisms that have been leveled against the idea of empowerment within Health and Social Care, and whether or not they are fair.
The Importance of Empowerment
Having the autonomy to make decisions and choices can be empowering, while others may feel disempowered. In many cases, empowerment means having control over your life.
The idea of empowerment goes back at least to ancient Greece when it was one of Aristotle’s four cardinal virtues: practical wisdom (phronesis), courage (Andreia), temperance (sophrosyne), and justice (dikaiosyne). For Aristotle, these virtues were not moral or spiritual qualities but rather principles that governed rational action.
The Right to Be Involved
The essence of empowerment for social care is that service users have a right to be involved in decisions about their own lives. It’s not about being given things or feeling good, but about having a voice and being treated as a human being, with feelings and needs.
It’s also about learning to live within your own personal limitations, learning what you can do better by yourself, and what you need help with.
Knowledge Gives Power
The more knowledgeable you are about your rights, options, and responsibilities as a patient or client of health care services, or as a beneficiary of social care services, such as benefits or housing support services, the more empowered you will be to act on those rights.
Take some time to learn what your rights are and even better, how to advocate for them.
You can start by finding out which service provides support with these issues; often it’s an ombudsman who can help with problems involving state or local government social care agencies.
When people say empowerment, it could mean that someone is more free to make decisions about their own life.
This usually means giving control to people who would not normally have power.
So, empowerment in health and social care means transferring control from a person or agency who normally holds power to another person or group who does not.
The ultimate aim is for those who are less powerful to be able to live without fear of loss of liberty or exploitation.
The Right to Make Mistakes
It’s natural to feel uneasy about making mistakes. As a society, we often treat failure as bad, or even shameful. In health and social care settings, though, people with dementia are often empowered to make their own decisions even if it means they make mistakes along the way.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines empowerment as the process of increasing an individual or group’s ability to act, make choices, and gain control over their own lives.
Simply put, empowerment involves changing our beliefs about our abilities. The empowerment of individuals with mental health issues has been referred to as a social cure because it can prevent illness and promote health.
This can be done by assisting people who are currently well but have risk factors for developing mental disorders, or by helping those with mental illness improve their sense of self-efficacy so they can more effectively manage their symptoms.
Social care means health care for vulnerable people, including children and those who need support with personal daily tasks such as washing or getting dressed.
Health care refers to general health-related activities. Health care can help prevent illness, reduce pain, improve quality of life, and support recovery from physical or mental illnesses.
The two disciplines social care and health care are closely linked.