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Republic of Ireland discussing a Mental Capacity Act

By 29th February 2012Mental Capacity Act

I spoke with the Legal Policy Officer of the Alzheimer’s Society last week to talk about my experience of the success (or otherwise!) of the 2005 Mental Capacity Act. My verdict was that the Code of Practice is great, really accessible and gives excellent case examples to illustrate its points; during training sessions I thought that people liked the clarity the four stage test of capacity provided for difficult situations where cognition was in question; the move from Enduring Power of Attorney to Lasting Powers has increased (greatly) the amount of paperwork people need to get to grips with and this has subsequently added to the solicitors fees for people who choose to use a solicitor. However, there is no doubt that the option to appoint a Health and Welfare attorney has been useful for people whose attorney might otherwise have struggled to gain access to care plans and medical records, particularly in continuing care cases; rules around restraint are reiterated rather than changed by the Act but health professionals on my training courses again appeared to appreciate further guidance; and finally, the introduction of Advance Decisions into statute law (thereby lending them more weight) has hopefully highlighted their advantages and encouraged people to talk about making them.

On the downside, and my gripe about most community care legislation, is that people do not know enough about it – hence my passion to spread the word! Also, there is no doubt that Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are confusing for people (I will post more on the three cases I have recently read about next month in an attempt to provide some clarity). Apparently Ireland are not even looking at this yet though – let’s hope that when/if they do, they learn from our mistakes…

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