Completed project to encourage self-determination in adult protection

The self-determination of adults has only been a central component of the Swiss law on adult protection since 2013. Professional practice has improved further since then.

The idea that adults should have self-determination in the field of adult protection has not always been taken for granted. It did not become a central aim of the legislation until the law on the protection of adults was revised in 2013. Efforts to preserve and encourage self-determination have led to new issues being raised – such as how the ability to make self-determined decisions can be developed or regained. Social work has a role to play in this process. The relationship between social workers and their clients is very complex. Although it is a working relationship, it is one in which the clients usually still need a great deal of attention.

The research project sheds light on the practice of preserving and encouraging self-determination in the field of adult protection during three periods of time before and after the law was amended in 2013. The studies focus on the decision-making processes of the guardianship and adult protection authorities, how guardianship and court-appointed protection cases are managed, and the legal framework conditions at federal and cantonal level.

The studies indicate that practices with regard to self-determination have generally improved in recent decades. The guardianship system used to be set up in a more paternalistic and morally strict way.