Self-determination and participation – implementing qualitative aspects of Swedish legislation on disability

Friday, November 1, 2013
First author:
Petra Björne
The Rights of Belonging


Research and Development Unit, City Executive Office, City of Malmö, Malmö, Sweden
All authors:

Petra Björne

Public Policy & Rigths
Rights, self-determination, inclusion, QoL




The Swedish legislation and policies on disability have clear qualitative aims, promoting self-determination and participation, important aspects of QoL. This study investigates how staff in a group home discuss and implement the qualitative aims of the legislation. The point of time chosen, while opening the group home, allowed observing the process of supporting service users to transition into a new home.


Interviews were conducted with the whole group as well as individually. The first group interview was held before the group home was opened.  Two further interviews were held on two more occasions after opening. Staff wrote down individual reflections, before opening the group home, and before the last interview.


The staff group found it easy to reflect upon the qualitative aims of the Swedish legislation on disability. These reflections changed before and after meeting the service users. Before, service users were included in a terminology of “we”, with the implicit assumption that staff preferences coincided with service user preferences. In the following interviews the concepts were far more problematic, even challenged, especially that of self-determination. The terminology developed into one of “they”.


Transition poses a major challenge to staff in maintaining the intentions of supporting self-determination and inclusion with the goal of QoL. Care staff must be supported in applying qualitative concepts of legislation and policies in a complex context of service users, disability, methods, and quality of life. A multidisciplinary model for implementing self-determination and inclusion while opening a group home will be presented.