Balancing restriction and freedom in the care of people with intellectual disability

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The case of a 50-year-old man with severe intellectual disability is described. After 20 years of institutional care, the subject was moved to a newly opened community group home. His physical and mental health deteriorated at this location after unproven allegations of sexual abuse which had taken place whilst he had been living in the institution. Although the subject's health continued to deteriorate, there was resistance to his readmission to the same hospital for assessment. He had always needed to be cajoled into eating, but this approach had not been followed by the home which had contributed towards his weight loss. The situation the subject, the carers and the health personnel found themselves in illustrates how problematic it is to find the right balance between restrictive practices and respect for an individual's choice.

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