Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Incapacity Bill Minutes of Evidence

36.Supplementary memorandum from Values Into Action (MIB 1218)

  Mark Brookes and I would like to thank you and the members of the Joint Committee for your interest and attention at the oral evidence session on 2l October. We also wish to provide the following clarification of some of the points we made.

  1.  The general authority would make lawful what currently happens unlawfully. It would also remove the few safeguards that now exist for people whose carers (whether family members or professionals) regard them as lacking capacity.

  2.  Decision making is a process, not an event. Supported decision making takes people through that process, whatever their degree of disability, by enabling them to identify and indicate their preferences, views and choices. Substitute decision making, by contrast, merely substitutes the views of another person.

  3.  Our research has shown that collective decision making provides monitoring and safeguarding, as well as sharing the burden of responsibility. Decisions for others should be taken together by at least two people and preferably three, for example, by a family member, a paid carer and one other, perhaps a friend or a health or social services professional.

  4.  A right to advocacy should be on the face of the Bill. This would not require that every person deemed to lack capacity should have an independent advocate allocated to them, but would merely give them a right of access to an advocate. It would not have the severe financial implications feared by the Joint Committee.

  I hope these points are helpful. I would be happy to provide any further information or clarification that may be required.

Dr Jean Collins

October 2003

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