I was in All Things Greener, the very excellent eco-friendly shop in Harleston, and got chatting to another customer. We started talking about work and she told me that she was working for a local council. When I told her that I had just trained MCA and DOLs (Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty, for those not in the know) in a Norfolk residential home she commented “Dry! Dry! Dry!”
I came home puzzled. How can enabling people to make choices and decisions, supporting them to gain greater understanding and direction in their lives, be dry? Isn’t it essential to all of us as human beings? When I, and the people in my life, make active and conscious choices we feel more alive, more embodied, more adult and more powerful. I want to still be doing that when I am 80 or 90 and to feel all those things!
In fact, I want this for all the people I work for, whether they have intellectual impairments, cognitive confusion or any other situation that requires them to need a little, or a lot of, help. I want staff to be enthusiastic about that, too! Following an extensive consultation, the House of Lords Select Committee on Mental Capacity came to the conclusion, in March 2014, that the Mental Capacity Act was either not understood or not applied in practice.
If we really want sensitive, compassionate and intelligent personalised care for people, whether they have learning difficulties or dementia, putting the Mental Capacity Act into action is vital. Then they can choose and choose again, just like we do. I have chosen to come to the beach for the afternoon, in the autumnal sun, and am writing this lying on my tum drying off after a quick dip in the sea at Southwold. I understood the facts involved in the decision, I retained the information, I weighed up the consequences and I communicated it to myself and my beloved. MCA in action! Dry? Really?!