Tuesday 21 December 2010

Mental Capacity Act 2005

I'm blessed with fantastic colleagues. It's really the only reason I'm working where I am. The staff really are fantastic.

Colleagues outside of the NHS are more variable in their competence. Some social workers are fantastic. I've a lot of time for social workers, they do a hard job with little meaningful support/team work. One disadvantage of this culture is that social workers are pretty idiosyncratic animals. They all work differently, with sometimes very different attitudes and consequently very different interventions (or lack of interventions).

This variability in social work bemused me . . . shouldn't it be a needs led service? Shouldn't what the patient (erm, client, to them) needs define what activities the social worker undertakes/the content of their care schedule? No, it all falls down to the quirks of the individual social worker (or assessment officer) in my corner, and the attitude/whim/habits they possess. Patients get very different responses and outcomes depending which area team social worker picks up their case.

What's more muddling is their response to change, including legislative changes such as the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

A social worker today said they didn't know it, she hadn't had what she thought was enough training on it, she didn't use it and it was "still new" so it didn't matter. 3 of her colleagues thought similarly. New? Still new?! It was drafted in 2005 and implemented in 2007, we've been using it for years!

Good grief.

But those individuals ignore it, don't do formal capacity assessments or Best Interest meetings/decisions or the like. Instead they refer such nonsense to their Team Leader (who has to do it all) because when she says they have to do it, and it's the law, they just tell her she's, "going off on one, again," and shrug and move on.

I'm not sure we've the ideal system, locally, for embedding current best practice within Local Authority social work teams . . .


Cat said...

These troublesome social workers :) Seriously though, I'm much less measured than you appear to me in my frustration at the general lack of knowledge and understanding about the Mental Capacity Act across the board and in some of the LA teams. In their defence though, those teams are pushed beyond the limit as far as incoming work goes - that doesn't mean they shouldn't be au fait with the legal niceties but the amount of stresses can be incredible.

Anonymous said...

I was at a safeguarding training course and a woman who manned the safeguarding alert helpline for a public authority said that if she got a phone call from a member of the public concerned that a person was being abused, she would ask the caller "have they got capacity?" and if the caller said they had she wouldn't proceed with the call. How many random members of the public could be expected to assess capacity? And even if they have capacity they could still be at risk. There's just so much wrong with that I don't know where to start! What was more alarming was the safeguarding trainers just winced and continued with the course and didn't pass comment.