Second Mental Capacity Action day outputs

Featured article - 03 March 2017
By Alexander Ruck-Keene, barrister, writer and educator, 39 Essex Chambers

Following the second Mental Capacity Action Day on Monday, I wanted to highlight three resources which were publicised at the event:

1. The first Annual Report of the Chair of the National Mental Capacity Forum, Baroness Finlay, which, whilst identifying and praising good practice, also makes clear substantial areas of challenge: in particular around (1) the timing and support for assessments; (2) the power imbalance in capacity assessment; (3) misunderstanding of the presumption of capacity; (4) fluctuating capacity; (5) ‘Executive dysfunction’ or impulsivity; (6) unwise decisions; (7) applying ethical principles identified in CoP cases; (8) times of transition; (9) vulnerability; (10) the DoLS; (11) safeguarding and (12) financial pressures.

2. A National Mental Capacity Act Competency Framework, endorsed by the Forum, which includes not just detail about the substance of the Act but also – importantly – seeks to break down the particular aspects of the Act which may be of especial relevance to different staff groups and identifies how to assess their competencies against these aspects.

3. Next of Kin – identifying decision-making authorities, a booklet endorsed by the Forum which seeks to make clear where and how decision-making authority can be either given or granted in relation (in particular) to health and welfare decisions. This document is extremely helpful – in my view – in exploding the myths around next of kin in this context; my one regret is that by using the term in the title the document perpetuates its usage.

A special mention should also be made both of the Baked Bean Theatre Company, for their insightful, challenging, but also very funny vignettes of health care provision from the perspective of those with learning disabilities, and the Include Choir for the Bare Necessities of the Mental Capacity Act, which in one witty song conveyed the principles of the Act better than I have seen done in any “professional” training session.

Good practice submissions and presentations (as well as those from the workshops) are being uploaded to the SCIE website.

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