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01st August 2014

Reviewing the Situation

Gavel on sounding blockEarlier this year I wrote about the House of Lords Select Committee inquiry into the working of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 in England and Wales. They reported in March and came up with 39 recommendations and now the Government has responded to these. I’ve read through the responses and want to comment on a few of these.

Not many people know this

First of all, and maybe not too surprising, was the finding that awareness of the principles and protection that the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) offers is low amongst families, carers, and professionals. The Government agrees with this finding and wants to do more to raise the level of awareness. It plans to hold a major national event in 2015, and has also asked the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) to review the Code of Practice and other guidance and training materials. The Code of Practice was first published seven years ago and so a review is overdue.

Inspecting the MCA

The Government also responded to the House of Lords finding that the Care Quality Commission should be including compliance with the MCA as a major item in any inspection. The CQC inspection regime is being reviewed and the CQC will be monitoring how care providers are implementing the five principles of the MCA. The Government has also asked SCIE to produce material to guide staff in incorporating the MCA in care planning for service users.

Causes for confusion

One of the issues that causes confusion for many practitioners is when to use the Mental Health Act and when to use the Mental Capacity Act. The Government has said it will expect new guidance on this to be written into a new Code of Practice.

Lastly, the very topical matter of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. The House of Lords Committee actually recommended scrapping these all together because of the confusion surrounding them. The Government have resisted that, but have acknowledged that recent high profile cases about people being deprived of their liberty in supported living situations means the law does need to be changed (at present the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards arrangements only apply to care homes and hospitals).

Future planning

How would you plan for your own future or the future of family members if at some point they lost capacity to make decisions? Appointing Lasting Powers of Attorney and making advance decisions are ways of doing this that not many people know about. The Government also wants these to be publicised as well. Expect lots of awareness raising material in the next twelve months!

Topics: Mental Health

David Beckingham

Mental Health Specialist

David Beckingham is a self-employed independent trainer, and is also an honorary lecturer with the University of Cumbria. His professional background is as a social worker and he has worked in care homes for older people in Cumbria. David’s main area of expertise is in mental health. Prior to becoming self-employed he was a Staff Development and Training Officer with Cumbria County Council, both commissioning and delivering training to mental health workers and others in statutory and independent sector organisations. Read more

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