I hesitated long and hard in case I seem vain, but I’m going to talk about how the Mental Capacity Act got to Buckingham Palace the other day!
I’m truly still surprised that the Care Quality Commission put me forward for the New Year Honours this year. The citation said I led for the CQC on the Mental Capacity Act (MCA), and was for ‘services to vulnerable people’.
A team effort
I could never have achieved my goal, to embed the MCA into the policies and inspection practice of the CQC, without all the help and support from my colleagues, of course those in CQC (a particularly noble mention must go to Andrea Sutcliffe, the Chief Inspector for adult social care, and her deputies) but in particular it wouldn’t happen without all of you who care as much as I do about the MCA, within health and social care.
I am very well aware that I wasn’t awarded this honour for myself, but on behalf of all of you, so do pat yourselves on the back! Several CQC colleagues said that they were so pleased to have the MCA honoured in this way, and that they could see that it was for the work we’d all taken part in. That goes extra for you, the people who directly make such a difference to the lives of people who face decisions they lack the capacity to make.
The risk of thoughtless care practice
People who lack capacity to make decisions for themselves are in a very precarious situation. They depend on those around them to balance correctly their right to be protected from avoidable harm but also empowered to live their lives as freely as possible.
The MCA code of practice is such a great tool for working out how do get these basics right: I do recommend it.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mental-capacity-act-code-of-practice Chapter 3 is all about ways to maximise someone’s capacity, chapter 4 about how and when to assess capacity, and chapter 5 explains how to make a best interests decision and find the ways to limit people’s freedoms as little as possible while keeping them safe.
At the Palace
It’s an unusual occasion, where you have to curtsey and walk backwards while wearing a hat (in my case, an absurd affair of orange feathers). My family feared that, once I started telling the Prince about the MCA, I’d have to be dragged away by the Beefeaters to make me stop.
And it’s true, I was so glad of the opportunity to explain to the Prince how important it is, to make decisions where appropriate within this human rights framework. I’m grateful to the Prince of Wales for his courtesy and charm, and the way he listened. But even more, I’m grateful to the CQC, and to all of you, for enabling me to highlight the MCA to royalty.
I’m now back in my ordinary world, but, if anything, my enthusiasm for the Act has increased.