Martin Keeves, OPG’s Head of Customer Relationship Management, talks about the importance of the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) to the work of OPG and its customers.
The MCA was created in 2005 and was designed to empower and protect those who lack mental capacity. It makes clear who can make decisions for an adult who lacks mental capacity, and in what circumstances. The MCA is supported by a code of practice which provides guidance and information about how the Act works in practice.
So why is this important to OPG and our customers? In order to safeguard vulnerable adults, we work to ensure the principles of the MCA are being followed by attorneys and deputies. If not, we can apply to the Court of Protection to have the attorney or deputy removed.
It’s also important that other service providers, like banks, utility companies or hospitals understand the MCA and the role of attorneys and deputies. Our deputies and attorneys are really good at letting us know when they have problems using their powers, for example, where an attorney tries to gain access to a donors account to pay their bills.
We appreciate this feedback. It helps us to focus our efforts on how we can help make things easier for people acting under a lasting power of attorney (LPA) or deputyship order.
One area we’re focusing on right now is work with the financial industry. We’ve developed some online learning for banks and building societies. This has been designed to help customer-facing staff recognise LPA and deputyship order documents and the role of attorneys and deputies. One major UK bank has agreed to test the online learning and initial feedback has been very good. We’re planning to share this online learning with other banks and building societies soon.
But it’s not just OPG who are helping people understand the importance of the MCA. I was reminded how much good work is being done earlier this month at an event hosted by the National Mental Capacity Forum (NMCF).
For instance, Birmingham NHS has created a video on the MCA principles aimed at people with hearing impairment. In another example, a local authority explained it had delivered workshops to every local GP surgery on the MCA. And before the MCA was introduced, dentists were sometimes unwilling to treat a person who lacked capacity for toothache if they could not give consent due to being unable to make decisions for themselves. It is difficult to imagine that happening now. It was really inspiring to hear how so many different types of organisations are putting the MCA principles into practice.
I’d be really interested to hear your views on what else we might be able to do to help make sure that the principles of the MCA are being followed. Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.