Rights and entitlements

As you get older, it’s important to take an active role in your healthcare. This means having a voice, knowing your rights, giving consent, asking questions, and staying informed about your health. Understanding your rights and entitlements is crucial, especially as you become more independent.

When it comes to your rights in regards to your healthcare, you can expect health professionals to:

  • Treat you in a respectful manner
  • Clearly explain information so that you understand
  • Involve you in any decisions about your health
  • Consult with you alone as you get older
  • Include your friend, partner or family member during your appointments (if you want)
  • Let you ask questions
  • Respect your privacy and confidentiality
  • Let you look at your medical record and make sure you understand it
  • Let you know how to make a complaint

As you get older, you might also be entitled to supports and entitlements. These can come in many forms, and it’s important to know what’s available to you. If you’re unsure about anything, ask your doctor or a health professional for more information. We’ve included some extra information and websites below where you can learn more about your rights and the entitlements you might be able to get. Keep in mind that this information might change over time and the final decision on getting any of these supports is up to the relevant authority.


Confidentiality is one of your rights. Confidential means your health information and medical records are private and can’t be shared unless you give the OK. If there’s something you want to discuss with your health professional without your parents or guardians knowing, just ask to talk to them alone. There are some exceptions. Health professionals may need to break confidentiality if they’re worried about your safety or if someone else is at risk. In these cases, they might need to share information to keep everyone safe. It is safe to talk to your healthcare professional about anything. Don’t be afraid to tell them things about you and your health. They have heard it all before and should respect your privacy, as long as you are safe.


Consent means giving permission, agreeing to do something or letting something happen, such as health professionals performing a treatment or a procedure on you.

Some things to know:

  • If you’re over 18, you can make your own healthcare decisions. It’s a good idea to keep your parents, guardians, or partner in the loop for support.
  • If you’re under 18, your parents or guardians usually need to give permission for medical decisions. However, if you’re over 16, you can consent to surgical, medical, or dental treatments, as well as any diagnostic tests. Health professionals may still seek consent from your parent or guardian before proceeding.

Visit Spunout for more information on consenting to medical treatment.

Making a complaint

If you are unhappy with any aspect of your care, you have the right to discuss it with your healthcare team or make a formal complaint. The Office of the Ombudsman handles complaints from people who feel they have been unfairly treated by a public service provider. The Ombudsman can investigate complaints against most public service organizations, including government departments, local authorities, the HSE, nursing homes, and publicly funded universities.


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is an international agreement that guides countries on how to ensure disabled people have the same rights as everyone else. It doesn’t create new rights for disabled people but helps countries understand what they need to do to make sure disabled individuals can enjoy their existing rights equally. The Convention has 50 Articles, each addressing a different human right, and many of these rights are connected. For example, the right to Independent Living includes the right to housing, support, privacy, transportation, education, and employment. Similarly, the right to have a family involves making personal decisions, having intimate relationships, and having children.

Now that Ireland has ratified the UNCRPD, it must ensure that disabled people can access and exercise all the rights listed in the Convention. For more information, you can visit the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.


Choosing where you want to live is an important decision you’ll face at some point. There are many options, such as living at home, private rentals, and shared housing. One option to consider is social housing, provided by local authorities like County Councils. Social housing is given based on eligibility and need, and rent is set according to what the household can afford.

If you think you might need social housing now or in the future, it’s crucial to plan ahead and apply to your local authority early. Don’t wait until you’re in urgent need of accommodation. Once you turn 18, you can apply, and your local authority will be aware of your needs and include you in their housing plans. Since waiting lists for social housing can be long, joining the list as soon as possible is important.

For more information and support in planning for your future housing needs, check out the Irish Wheelchair Association’s ‘Think Ahead, Think Housing’ campaign.


Driving a Car

Thinking about getting driving and have questions? Wondering if you can do it, how to start, what adjustments you might need, and how much it will cost? Check out the Irish Wheelchair Association website. They offer lots of information on accessible motoring and transport services for people with physical disabilities and wheelchair users. They provide driving lessons, assessments, and advice on vehicle adaptations to help you drive safely and confidently.

Public Transport

Using public transport isn’t just cheaper than owning a car; it can also be less stressful, faster, and better for the environment. There are many options available, like buses, trains, and ferries. If you want to get practical training and hands-on experience to navigate these options confidently, check out the Wayfinding Centre. They offer a safe indoor environment that replicates real-world public transport conditions, including lighting, sounds, hazards, and the surrounding environment. This setup helps you explore and understand all aspects of public transport in a controlled setting, making it easier for you to use these services independently and effectively.


If you have a disability, you may be entitled to get help from the disability support services. It is important to review what funding and supports you are getting now, as well as learn what funding and supports you can apply for as an adult. The Citizen’s Information website offers a comprehensive guide to these entitlements, providing valuable information on disability payments, accessible transportation options, and education and training opportunities. You can also visit Spunout to learn more about the supports available.


>> Go to next page: Education and career aspirations