Help make the MCA as well- known as the Mental Health Act

Featured article - 13 January 2017
By Stef Lunn, Adults Social Care Consultant

This blog comes to you from the 15:10 service from London Marylebone to Birmingham Snow Hill. I've just attended the 'National Mental Capacity Forum - leadership group' meeting. Towards the end of the meeting, I suggested (without really thinking it through) to write a blog about the meeting, for the whole National Mental Capacity forum and anyone else signed up to this page. This blog isn't intended to replace the official notes from the meeting, but to convey a sense of the main issue which engaged us in the liveliest debate. I've attended enough meetings to know that the most engaging items are usually tucked away at the end of agenda, and today was no exception.

Introducing the final agenda item, Our Chair, Baroness Ilora Finlay, said quite plainly that we have an image problem. Not the Forum itself, or even the leadership group per se, although that might also be true, but the Mental Capacity Act in general! This is something that I wholeheartedly agree with. The language we use isn't engaging but worse still, it can frighten people. Ask 100 people in the street if they have heard of the MCA and very few will have (I know, I have asked hundreds of people in Birmingham, so it's no wonder I might have an image problem!) all agreed that we need to find a way to get people talking about the importance of their freedom and their choices. Some of the suggestions we had were:

  • Use thunderclap to co-ordinate use of social media across large organisations with big followings
  • Make sure that we have stories to highlight the issues in a way that engages people like the Paul Briggs case did so recently
  • Consider seeking celebrity endorsement from Angela Rippon, Prunella Scales, Billy Connolly even?
  • Try to encapsulate the issues in more accessible language, using single words like 'protector' or 'empowerment'
  • It was really tricky to find a single word, so a couple of phrases were also suggested 'nothing about me without me' or 'speaking up for you'.

Many heads, hearts and hands are needed to help make the MCA is as well known as the Mental Health Act, maybe even better known as it affects so many of us. So we'd really like to hear your ideas for this on the Forum. If something has worked well locally for you, perhaps we can adopt it nationally. Please have the confidence to share, and help us raise the profile of this important issue.

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