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06th January 2017

Sharing our views – Mental Capacity Act ( MCA)

Sharing our views - Mental Capacity Act ( MCA)

In this article, I’d like to introduce you to the newly refreshed National Mental Capacity Forum, and encourage you to join!

Why should we join the Forum?

The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) is central to good care and treatment by health and care professionals: and it is so much more as well. It shows the way to lots of other professionals – in shops, banks and police stations – for them to help people who might be living with conditions that affect their mental capacity. By including people from all these different professions, the Forum promotes ‘joined-up working’ and helps prevent the frustration people feel when people who should know about the MCA are failing to work within it.

The Forum is new, and by joining you can help influence how it grows and develops. In my view, it can only work well if it inspires people to get interested in the MCA: once they’re interested, it’s only a short step to being passionate about it. At this point, I hear cries of ‘Well, she would say that, wouldn’t she!’ But it’s worth being passionate about!

Relevant to all of our lives

The MCA is the way we can play our part in protecting the basic human rights of people who are probably the most vulnerable in our society, those who lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions about how they live and how they are treated. Sometimes people regain capacity quite quickly: this happens, for example, when someone has an infection or has become confused due to a high temperature. Other times, the loss of capacity may be progressive or permanent and, so far, not curable by medical science: this might be people with learning disabilities, dementias or neurological disorders, or who have had a serious head injury in an accident.

We’ll be very unusual if we get through life without issues of mental capacity being brought into focus in our own families or social circles. So, this law, the MCA, is one that really does deserve to be better known and understood by all of us: not just because we need it at work – though we do – but because it will protect and empower us if we need it, as well as the people we care about. Its ‘empowering ethos’ enables us, potentially, to have as fulfilling a life as possible even when we might, in the future, struggle with mental capacity.

Understanding how other people think

When you join the Forum, you can see thought-provoking items, often written by people who are living with mental capacity issues – and you can add to them.  Here’s a current favourite of mine.

I was told about this poem by a CQC inspector, who’d come across it on the wall of a service for people with learning disabilities. It was anonymous. I tracked down the original to Massachusetts in the USA, where it was published in the magazine of a charity called The Arc. I can’t find who ‘translated it’ into our own English – if it was you, let me know and we’ll make sure you’re credited on the Forum website!

You and I

I am a resident.

You live at your place.

 

I live with seven others, a couple of whom I don’t really like.

You just got a new place with a couple of friends, because you didn’t like the people you were sharing with.

 

I like to leave my room in a mess but the staff tell me I’m learning something when I clean it every day.

You tell me your room is a disaster area.

 

I am aggressive.

You are assertive.

 

I have behaviour problems.

You are rude.

 

I’m non-compliant.

You don’t like being told what to do.

 

I am on a special diet because I am 5lbs over my ideal body weight.

Your doctor gave up telling you.

 

When I ask you out for dinner it is an outing.

When you ask someone out it is a date.

 

I want to talk to the nice-looking person behind us at the grocery store. I was told it was inappropriate to talk to strangers.

You met your husband at the cheese counter. He couldn’t find the Brie.

 

I think some people who work with me are my only friends.

You have lots of friends – none of them are paid.

 

I don’t have anything that says who I am.

You have a driving licence.

 

My case manager, Psychologist, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist and staff set goals for me for the next year.

You haven’t decided what you want out of life.

 

I don’t know how many people have read the progress notes people write about me. I don’t even know what’s in there.

 

You didn’t speak to your best friend for a month after she read your diary…..

 

So please join the National Mental Capacity Forum: It’s free to join, and it’s at http://nmcforum.ning.com .  And have a happy and empowering New Year!

*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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