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14th July 2016

Movie Time with the Mental Capacity Act

I’m really excited about the latest video on the SCIE (Social Care Institute for Excellence) website.  It’s called Using the Mental Capacity Act – which I grant you isn’t the snappiest title.  You can find by clicking here: Using the Mental Capacity Act

It’s made by people who rely on the MCA to protect their rights to make their own decisions: they do a better job than ever I could to explain why it’s so important.

Good for staff meetings and more

Do watch it with your staff, and encourage discussion about how to put its messages into practice.   At a mere 17 minutes, it’s time well spent.

In this film, some wonderfully feisty people of different ages or disabilities create a really accessible version of the Five Principles of the MCA.  With humour and passion they present these principles in a rhyme, as ‘One, Two, and Three are all about me’ and then ‘Four and Five, you do with me, if I lack capacity!’

Reminder of the MCA Principles

The film focuses on these Principles.  As it explains, we must start from the position that people can make their own decisions, unless there is reason to believe someone lacks the mental capacity for a particular decision.

The second principle, which is very closely linked to the first, says we should bend over backwards to find ways to empower people to make their own decisions – and the speakers in the video make it clear how important this help and support is.

The people in the film applaud the third principle – the one that says, just because someone makes a decision that other people think is unwise, this doesn’t automatically mean the person lacks mental capacity for that decision.  Don’t all write in, but I’m guessing that all of us have made unwise decisions, with capacity, in our lives: that is, after all, how we learn and grow as people.

So, as the video shows, the first three – the majority – of the principles tell us to empower and enable people to make their own decisions as far as possible.  The final two principles are about how decisions must be made when a person cannot, even with all possible help, make a particular decision at the time it needs to be made.

The fourth principle says that anything we do to, or on behalf of, someone who lacks mental capacity, must be in the best interests of that person. The MCA doesn’t give a quick definition of ‘best interests’, but we’ve an article on that subject coming out shortly.

The Golden Thread

And the final principle is that everything we do for someone lacking mental capacity must be the least restrictive option we can find, to meet the person’s specific need.  ‘Least restrictive’ doesn’t just refer to restraint.   It’s much more about the person’s basic rights to live as they choose.  This is the ‘golden thread’ that runs through the MCA.  If someone lacks the mental capacity to give proper agreement, it’s only right that we interfere as lightly as possible in how that person chooses to live.



Rachel Griffiths

Mental Capacity and Human Rights Specialist

Rachel has huge experience and knowledge in the area of Mental Capacity, including how to recognise deprivation of liberty, when and how to assess capacity and how to go about making decisions in someone’s best interests. She is nationally recognised as a leading voice with regards to Mental Capacity, and is involved with setting the agenda as well as providing advice and information about Mental Capacity. The information, guidance and support that Rachel provides helps to ensure that the way people work is within the law and recognises that the person using services is always at the centre of any decisions made. Read more

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