Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by Eloise Jones, Best Interest Assessor/ Senior Social Worker MCA/ DoLS (MCAB03)

My name is Eloise Jones. I have been practising as an independent Best Interest Assessor for the past four years. Prior to that I was MCA and DoLS Specialist Senior Professional at Reading Borough Council and Safeguarding Coordinator at West Berkshire Council. I would like to raise the following points for consideration as written evidence in view of the proposed Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill:

1) I understand one of the issues that the Bill seeks to address is cost, yet the proposals appear to pass some of the costs on to service providers who I imagine will add these costs on to their placement fees. Is it possible then that these costs will be passed back, full circle, to local authorities who fund the majority of placements? Has this been taken into account when calculating the potential overall savings of the new scheme? What about additional training costs for the staff of provider organisations which might also be reflected in increased placement fees?

2) Is it possible that an increased financial burden on provider organisations could impact on staffing issues when staffing levels are already in crisis? It is well known that poor staffing levels result in decreased quality of care and an increased risk to service users of abuse through neglect.

3) In my experience, home managers currently do not have the time and resources for the necessary training to understand this area of law. When I visit care homes it is enough to hope that managers/ staff will have a grip on the basic principles of the Mental Capacity Act as this is still sadly all too often lacking (currently training on the MCA is not mandatory for care staff).

4) Have providers been consulted for their views on the proposed changes? I have mentioned these in my travels to various provider organisations and home managers appear shocked that the responsibility for commissioning these assessments might be passed on to them. I am yet to meet a home manager who is aware of the proposed changes.

5) I feel there would be a real conflict of interest if the commissioning role for these assessment services were passed on to registered home manager. Are managers more likely to commission services from those assessors who go in and carry out a brief superficial assessment or those who take up valuable time asking questions and querying practice? What about assessments which include conditions asking for reviews within a shorter time frame which again place cost pressures on to providers? Are home managers likely to re-commission services from assessors that do this? Most practice with integrity but I fear the new system proposed is open to abuse and would be nothing but detrimental to the people it is meant to serve.

December 2018


Prepared 15th January 2019