Leading social care groups warn government mental capacity reforms not fit for purpose

Social care interest groups throughout the care industry are calling on the Government to rethink its Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill now it’s at parliamentary stage.

A new paper has been released ahead of the House of Lords committee stage, when it will be scrutinised by peers, where concerns about the legislation are outlined.

The paper, a cross-sector representation of issues and concerns relating to the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill, will reflect the views of different and diverse organisations representing people using support services, their families, care providers and infrastructure bodies.

Professor Martin Green OBE, chief executive of Care England, said: “The Bill in its current form is simply unworkable and should it be railroaded through Parliament there are real dangers that the people that it seeks to protect will suffer a great injustice and inadequate safeguards.

“The government needs to go back to the first principles and align the Bill with the recommendations of the Law Commission which itself conducted an extensive in-depth study of the situation.”

The Bill aims to provide legal safeguards required under the European Convention on Human Rights and will replace the existing Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) with Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS).

A major concern is proposals undermine the safeguards that protect people who lack capacity to make decisions about their care and social care interest groups believe the Bill introduces a conflict of interest for registered managers who would be responsible for carrying out assessments.

Judy Downey, Chair of the Relatives and Residents Association said: “It is neither fair nor appropriate to give care home managers these new responsibilities for vulnerable and often isolated people.

“It requires them to be judge and jury about decisions in which they themselves could be involved.”

Social care groups are also concerned about the lack of focus on the views of the person being assessed and the implications of transferring responsibility for dealing with DoLS assessment backlog.

Ms Downey said care home managers are already overburdened with a range of ever-increasing responsibilities in what is a demanding and challenging role.

Dr Rhidian Hughes, chief executive for the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), said: “The care sector has huge concerns about the potential conflict and the cost saving motives involved in the government’s proposals.

“The reforms seem entirely at odds with the ethos of care and services which focus on respecting the rights and choices of people using care services.

“The Government must go back to the drawing board and reconsider the Law Commission’s original model of reforming the laws designed to safeguard people who need support. People’s rights must be protected and we’re ready to work with government to get this legislation fit for purpose.”

To read the paper, click here

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