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02nd March 2017

‘Blue skies out of the box’

I wish there was a new, fresh way of saying this, but we need to come up with some better ways to embed the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) in the minds of everyone in England and Wales.

The MCA’s tenth birthday is in a month’s time, at the beginning of April. It was widely hailed, when it came in, for the way it balanced giving people who might have capacity difficulties as much freedom as possible to make their own decisions, with protecting them from harm with as light a touch as possible. It was also praised for being intuitively easy to understand because it was based on existing best practice – so good practitioners were doing it anyway.

And yet, and yet. I’ve been involved in implementing the Act for a decade now: but I meet loads of people who’ve no idea what rights the MCA gives them and many professionals who still struggle to understand how to put it into practice.

Holding professionals to account

I’ve a lot of Welsh relatives, and I know the importance that rugby holds for the entire country. Everyone has opinions on who should play in which position in the next 6 Nations match, and where they went wrong strategically last week (don’t write in: this is private grief).

I imagine the players knowing that if they don’t win they’ve got a lot of explaining to do, to their neighbours, in the pub, and, most scarily, to their grandma. In Wales, a grandmother is ‘Nain’ (pronounced like the number 9) – and your Nain can give it hot and strong, trust me!

I’d like to see people who might lack capacity for some decisions, and their relatives or friends, holding professionals to account when we get the MCA wrong. It’ll be a great day when a parent, or child, or a neighbour or a Nain, goes ‘Oi! What happened to the principle of looking for the least restrictive option, then?’

Eurovision only funnier and with a purpose

Monday was the annual Action Day of the National Mental Capacity Forum. In one of the workshops, we tried to ‘think outside the box’ for new ways to do it better – how to get the Act really embedded into people’s lives.

One of the ideas that came out of that workshop was that the MCA needed a song. And, lo and behold, we rejoined the main conference and all laughed (and joined in) with the Inclusion Choir from south London, when they sang about the MCA, and how to work within it, with great humour. The best part of an excellent day.

It was such fun that the Forum is looking for ways to film them performing their song, and make it available – one of our main concerns is how to protect the Choir’s rights to the song, and make sure they are properly paid and recognised. I hope to be able to share the song with you before too long.

And while you’re waiting, do join the Forum: it’s free, and you can engage in discussions with like-minded people on any topics linked to the MCA.

To join, go to: www.scie.org.uk/mca-directory/forum/

You’ll find the members-only pages at: http://www.nmcforum.ning.com

A Challenge

In the meantime, can the creative among you (and I know you’re out there) write and perform for us anymore ‘Songs for the MCA’?  I can’t promise a new career where you’ll knock Adele off the top spot, but I can promise that you’ll be popular in mental capacity circles!

QCS: Can we ask people to send us the link to their performances on YouTube or wherever? And can we say we’ll share the best? Please email these to us at admin@qcs.co.uk

We only ask you to abide by a couple of rules:

  • Get the MCA right (maybe by setting words from the Code or from the Act itself)
  • Funny is good, but not at the expense of other people, whether as individuals or groups in society – and of course, keep it suitable for a general audience.

Come on, I know you’ve got it in you!  And it’ll achieve far more to embed the MCA in society than yet another PowerPoint presentation!

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

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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