A platform for professionals to network

Featured article - 04 December 2019
By Betsey Lau-Robinson, Head of Safeguarding and the Mental Capacity Act at the University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

A platform for professionals to network - mca - mental capacity act - blog

In May, I organised and hosted an MCA conference for UCLH where 150 people were presented by consultants who shared case scenarios of people affected by strokes. The audience were reminded about some of the challenges - and the reality - of people’s experience; but especially how our clinical teams manage these challenges when it comes to decision-making, fluctuating capacity and depriving people of their liberty whilst accessing our care. The message from the consultants (Stroke and Elderly Units) was to remind us how important it is to balance people’s rights whilst being proportionate in the process.

These events provide a platform for professionals to network and promote the MCA by developing and sharing best practice to improve patient outcomes. Some common templates include: capacity assessments, training, next-of-kin and Lasting Power of Attorney leaflets.

Playing my part

I have even more reasons to take personal pride in my work. I really enjoy teaching several staff on a weekly basis: healthcare assistants, chaplains, transport staff, nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, students, volunteers. The feedback is generally good-to-excellent which means I’m playing my part in making the MCA come to life. I sat with Tim Spencer Lane and the Law Commission team at the Joint Committee for Human Rights in Parliament to present our case to Harriet Harman, the Chair. It was an overwhelming experience and a huge weight of responsibility. I am very proud to be part of the team which supported amendments to the MC(A) Act.

In April 2019, UCLH launched an online proxy access for patients who can nominate carers and family members to access information relating to hospital appointments, prescriptions, Advance Decisions (AD’s) and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA’s). This access also enables multi-agency professionals to identify and to uphold AD’s and LPA’s. Camden Council is running public forums to raise awareness for LPA’s with the Office of Public Guardian. As a member of the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) and Mental Capacity Code of Practice Working Group, I am working with our UCLH Emergency and Frailty clinical teams to contribute and develop the Codes. I am currently joining the Baroness Finlay in delivering conferences in London, York, Manchester and Birmingham. Another popular initiative is our MCA Badges to promote the Five MCA Principles. Those principles are often represented by a hand. Here are the principles:

  • A presumption of capacity
  • Individuals supported to make their own decisions
  • Unwise decisions
  • Best interests
  • The less restrictive option.

Following a pilot by Camden GPs for NHS England, notification of capacity assessments, AD’s and LPAs are on the GP EMIS (electronic system) to ensure the patient’s voice is noted.

Our efforts and enthusiasm to continue the important work of the National Mental Capacity Forum continue to thrive and with your help in campaigning for the MCA, I’m sure that much can be achieved.

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