A message from Hammersmith and Fulham

A few weeks ago I posted A message from Pembrokeshire; a transcript of the evidence submitted by Pembrokeshire People First to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Mental Capacity Act 2005.  I posted their evidence in full because it was (I think) the only evidence submitted to the Committee from a self-advocacy organisation about the MCA.  As I wrote at the time, whilst there is a huge amount of research on the views of carers, social workers, doctors, lawyers and others on the MCA, there is a (shocking) dearth of evidence on the views of people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities and mental health problems on having their capacity assessed and having decisions made on their behalf.  The only study I have been able to find which has looked at this was conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights; this only touched on the UK very briefly, but did not present an especially positive picture of people’s experiences of having decisions made in their ‘best interests’.

However, the House of Lords Select Committee – specifically Lord Faulks, Lord Hardie and Baroness Barker – went to meet people with learning disabilities in Hammersmith and Fulham to ask them about their experiences of making decisions, being supported to make decisions, being prevented from making decisions and being sidelined in decision making.  The notes of their visit  are really interesting.  They offer a real insight into the range of experiences that people with learning disabilities have of being supported (or not supported) to make decisions, and of being involved (or not involved) when others make decisions for them.  As it’s quite long, I won’t summarise it here – but I really recommend reading it.  

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