Using philosophy to understand the complexities of care and the challenges of supporting and preserving autonomy in care contexts.

The Essex Autonomy Project is a research and knowledge-exchange initiative based in the School of Philosophy and Art History at the University of Essex. We use the tools of philosophy to explore the challenges associated with front-line practice in medicine, psychiatry, social work and law, particularly in the area of decision-making capacity. The project is led by philosophers, in collaboration with multi-disciplinary researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and activists.

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Human Rights in Care Homes

In a new research project, Professor Wayne Martin and Professor Sabine Michalowski are investigating the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on respect for human rights in care homes. The overarching aim of the project is to improve the protection of human rights in care homes, using the impact of Covid-19 as a case study.

The research team are gathering and analysing information on the experiences of care sector professionals during the pandemic, asking about reported practices such as the use of restrictions on the movements of residents, the use of “Do Not Attempt Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation” orders, or decisions to restrict transfer of unwell patients to acute-care hospital facilities.

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Autonomy Summer School

Summer 2021

The 2021 Autonomy Project Summer School was held online on the 20th-24th July.

This year issues of risk have loomed larger than ever across every sector of civil society. The pandemic has meant that we’ve all had to be especially vigilant about – and more ingenious than ever in negotiating – the risks that pervade our private and professional lives. In our 11th Annual EAP Summer School we highlighted and explored the role risk plays across a number of legal and care contexts. Among other things, we explored the following topics: risk work and the relative advantages of formal and post-formal approaches to risk assessment in care settings; the role of risk in mental capacity assessment and how that role is moderated by the severity of the risks involved; the place of risk in Mental Health Policy and psychiatric decision making; the precautionary principle and what it means for people who do frontline risk work; the wider background conditions that shape which risks feature in our decision making and which get ignored. As always, our presenters came from a variety of backgrounds – e.g., law, philosophy, sociology, psychiatry, and more – and we will foster interdisciplinary problem-focused conversations with a diverse group of academics, lawyers, psychiatrists, frontline care workers, and other professionals with a stake in these issues.

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2020 Summer School in Summer School

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