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Praxis Care launch research findings in co-produced project with Mencap NI and Queens University Belfast

Praxis Care, Mencap NI and Queen’s University Belfast today launched the findings and recommendations of their “Supported Decision Making – experiences, approaches and preferences” research project.

This co-produced project examined the experiences of people with mental ill health and learning disabilities in relation to decision making experiences, approaches and preferences. The research explores solutions that may more effectively empower people with disabilities to directly influence their own decision making.

The research was funded by the DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) programme; a five year scheme launched in 2015, led by people with disabilities and funded by the Big Lottery Fund through Disability Action.

This year long project has been led by individuals with a learning disability or experience of mental ill health who worked alongside academics and staff within services for the duration of the project. An international advisory group was also involved to provide additional perspectives at key stages of the project.

Some of the recommendations from the research include:

  1. Support needs to be individualised to meet each individuals needs
  2. People need more time to make an important decision
  3. Some of the complexity about support needs to be explored.

The report findings are of both national and international significance as the co-produced research will help to inform the Code of Practice currently being developed for the implementation of the Mental Capacity Act (NI) 2016.


Paul Webb, Research Manager, Praxis Care said:

“The Code of Practice is critical in helping people to understand how the legislation can be applied. Previously there has been very limited research evidence available about individuals with disabilities’ experiences of decision making and their preferences for support.

The findings of this report will contribute to a better understanding of the importance of respecting the rights of all individuals, will enable better decision making processes and a more inclusive approach to disability policy and support.”


Professor Gavin Davidson, Praxis Chair of Social Care from the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social work at Queen’s University Belfast commented:

”The project has been a very positive partnership between the funder, the peer researchers and all the organisations involved. The Mental Capacity Act (NI) 2016 has the potential to provide a progressive and innovative legal framework for people whose ability to make decisions is impaired. The support principle in the new Act requires that people should be supported to make their own decisions and so the research findings inform how this can be implemented. The research participants have demonstrated how important it is to consider their experiences and ideas, and how willing they are to be involved in developing law, policy and practice.


Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap NI said:

“Too often assumptions are made that people with a learning disability have nothing to say or because they cannot make one particular decision they cannot make any. This report demonstrates that this is not the case and we hope it will help to empower people with a learning disability to make key decisions about their lives. The real strength of this report was that in employing peer researchers who have a learning disability it challenged, in a very practical way, both attitudes and assumptions about what people with a learning disability can achieve”

You can read the full report here

An Easy Read version of the report is also available to download.


– ENDS –



Notes to Editor

  1. For further media enquiries:Christine ArmstrongT: 02890 818 419
  2. E: christinearmstrong@praxiscare.org.uk
  3. Communications & Marketing Executive, Praxis Care

Or        Mencap NI

T: 02890691351

E: media@mencap.org.uk


  • About DRILL


Launched in 2015, the Disability Research and Independent Living and Learning (DRILL) is the world’s first major research programme led by disabled people.

The programme is funded by Big Lottery Fund and delivered by Disability Rights UK, Disability Action Northern Ireland, Inclusion Scotland and Disability Wales.

The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. It puts people in the lead to improve their lives and communities, often through small, local projects.

Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that change the lives of millions of people.

  1. About Praxis Care

Praxis Care is the largest Northern Ireland charity providing care for nearly 1,700 vulnerable children and adults affected by mental ill-health, learning disability, autism, acquired brain injury and dementia. The charity works across Northern Ireland, Ireland, England and the Isle of Man.

The services provided include accommodation care and support services, floating support and home response services, day activities, advocacy and befriending services.

You can find out more about our services via our website https://www.praxisprovides.com/ or by calling 02890 234 555.

  • About Mencap NI


Mencap in Northern Ireland works to support people with a learning disability and their families and carers by fighting to change laws and improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports hundreds of people with a learning disability in Northern Ireland to live their lives the way they want, working to make sure they are valued equally, listened to and fully included in society.

Our services in Northern Ireland support people with a learning disability and their families throughout their lives, from early intervention for young children and family support to adult services such in employment, housing and community inclusion.

Mencap is one of the largest providers of services, information and advice for people with a learning disability across Northern Ireland, England, and Wales. You can find out more about our services by calling Mencap’s Helpline on 0808 808 1111 or by visiting http://www.mencap.org.uk/ni

  • About Queens University Belfast


Queen’s University Belfast is part of the Russell Group of universities, combining excellence in research and education with a student-centred ethos. Queen’s is ranked 8th in the UK for Research Intensity with over 75% of its research assessed as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in REF 2014, and is one of the UK’s leading institutions for research commercialisation.

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