New tool to ensure families are involved in best interest decisions
Tuesday 24 April 2012
Ambitious about Autism, Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation worked with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors to highlight the rights of families under the Mental Capacity Act
A new resource has been developed for parents who feel that they are not being appropriately consulted about the welfare of their loved ones.
Ambitious about Autism, Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation worked with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors to develop the tool, following concerns that many professionals are failing to appropriately consult with families, as required under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
In its latest report into deaths of people with a learning disability in NHS care, Mencap found that many health professionals are failing to abide by the Act and ignoring crucial advice from families.
A leaflet is now available which will support parents who have concerns that they are being excluded from decisions that social care or health professionals are making about their adult son or daughter. These may be decisions about where the person lives, what care they are getting, how they spend their time or medical treatment.
Parents will now be able to use two template letters which are intended to help family members who have not been involved, or are concerned that they will not be involved in the best interest decision-making process in the future.
Alex Rook, solicitor at Irwin Mitchell says: “If an individual lacks the mental capacity to make a decision for themselves, that decision must then be made in their best interests in accordance with the requirements of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
“The Act requires all professionals, including those from local authorities and the NHS, to consult with family members when an adult lacks the mental capacity to make the relevant decision themselves. The law on this is clear. We want families to know their rights.”
Belinda Blank, Transition Liaison Officer at TreeHouse School which is run by Ambitious about Autism, says:
Families are very concerned when their young people reach the age of 18 and transfer from children's to Adults services, that this may involve losing control over decisions made about their care or medical support. We hope that this leaflet and the letter templates will help reassure parents and carers that they can take simple steps to ensure they remain consulted at all times.
David Congdon, Head of Campaigns and Policy at Mencap says:
We know from our campaigning work how serious the consequences can be when families of people with severe learning disabilities are not listened to. They often have invaluable knowledge about their son or daughter, for example, they understand the subtle ways in which they communicate or express that they are in pain.
It is crucial that professionals listen to family carers and use their knowledge to inform decisions being made. This applies to all decisions – those about medical treatment and social care as well as any other decision which affects the person’s life. This is not just good practice it is the law. It is important families understand this and feel able to challenge when they are not being involved.
Vivian Cooper, Chair, The Challenging Behaviour Foundation, says:
Family carers who contact our helpline often describe being excluded from decision-making. Families have a wealth of knowledge and expertise about the individual and their history as well as being a long term source of love, care and support. These new resources will empower families to ensure they are appropriately involved in the decision-making process.
Parents can download the leaflet at www.irwinmitchell.com/MCAletter
For media enquiries, please contact the Mencap press office on 0207 696 5414 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- About Irwin Mitchell
One of the largest law firms in the UK, Irwin Mitchell was first established in 1912 and is celebrating its centenary this year. The firm employs more than 2100 staff and has more than 150 Partners helping over 200,000 clients a year. There are offices in Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol and Sheffield as well as a consulting office in Leicester and two offices in Spain. For more information visit www.irwinmitchell.com.
- Ambitious about Autism
Ambitious about Autism is the national charity for children and young people with autism. The charity provides services, raises awareness and understanding, and campaigns to make the ordinary possible for children and young people with autism. We exist to enable children and young people with autism to learn, thrive and achieve and through TreeHouse School we provide specialist education.
For more information visit, www.AmbitiousAboutAutism.org.uk
- About Mencap
There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability and their families and carers by fighting to change laws and improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
We are also one of the largest providers of services, information and advice for people with a learning disability across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. People with a learning disability and their carers can find out more about our services by calling Mencap Direct on 0300 333 111 or by visiting www.mencap.org.uk
- The Challenging Behaviour Foundation
Behaviour can be described as challenging when it is of such an intensity, frequency or duration as to threaten the quality of life and/or the physical safety of the individual or others and it is likely to lead to responses that are restrictive, aversive or result in exclusion.
The Challenging Behaviour Foundation is a registered charity which provides information, support and training around challenging behaviour associated with severe learning disabilities, and leads the ‘Challenging Behaviour National Strategy Group’ which seeks to influence policy and practice nationally on behalf of individuals who challenge and their families.
‘Severe learning disability’ is a developmental disability meaning the individual has a significantly reduced ability to learn new skills. Individuals with severe learning disabilities typically have very limited communication skills, often non verbal, and need help with daily living skills such as eating and dressing. Challenging behaviour shown by individuals with severe learning disabilities may include aggression, self injury, disruptive and destructive behaviours, stereotyped behaviour, and is often due to their lack of ability to communicate their needs.
For more information visit www.challengingbehaviour.org.uk or contact:
The Challenging Behaviour Foundation
Telephone: 01634 838739