Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging
Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

2.1 The right to choose

How do you support someone to make healthier choices, while respecting their right to make their own decisions?

Activity 2 The cheese sandwich

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Jimmy lives by himself. He has help from a support worker to prepare his evening meal. When Jimmy’s parents visit, she tells them Jimmy will only eat cheese sandwiches for dinner. His parents are anxious about this as it is not a healthy diet. But the support worker believes it is Jimmy’s right to choose.

The image shows a cheese sandwich
Figure 3 Staff may find themselves balancing different priorities when supporting people

Which of the following might help a support worker resolve this issue while still respecting Jimmy’s right to choose?


1. Find out what Jimmy is eating the rest of the day to build up a picture of his overall diet


2. Check that Jimmy understands what his choices are


3. Encourage Jimmy to have a tomato or some coleslaw with the sandwich


4. Find out how his family have encouraged Jimmy to vary his diet in the past


5. Take over cooking Jimmy’s meals


6. Find out if Jimmy needs more help with shopping or learning how to cook


7. Find out if Jimmy is choosing a simple quick meal because his favourite TV programme is on at the time


8. Tell Jimmy he can only have a cheese sandwich three times a week

The correct answers are a, b, c, d, f and g.


All but 5 and 8 are actions you could take while respecting Jimmy’s rights to choose.

In this activity you explored some of the issues in making positive lifestyle choices, while respecting people’s rights as adults to make choices. Balancing respect for people’s right to choose with encouragement to make healthy choices will never be easy, and requires empathy and imagination.

In the next section you will explore the quality of healthcare for people with learning disabilities.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371