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Neuropsychologists make recommendations for amendments to the Mental Capacity Act to Parliament

31 July 2018

Earlier this month members of the Society’s Division of Neuropsychology met with Emma Lewell-Buck MP to recommend that social workers receive specialist training on brain injuries prior to conducting Mental Capacity Assessments, to help them spot conditions such as the Frontal Lobe Paradox

DoN Chair Dr Katherine Carpenter, DoN Exec member Dr Melanie George, and BPS lead for the Mental Capacity Act Dr Camilla Herbert, were invited by Baroness Finlay to submit their recommendations to help inform the debate regarding the amendment to the Mental Capacity Act (2005) currently going through the House of Lords.

Also present were Dr Mark Holloway (social worker and specialist brain injury case manager from ‘Head First’ representing the Brain Injury Social Work Group), Associate Professor from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience Sam Gilbert, and Chloe Hayward, from UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF) who played a key role in setting up the meeting. 

Dr Melanie George said:

“The Mental Capacity Act (2005) was developed to safeguard the needs of people who have lost the Mental Capacity to consent to certain decisions. 

In the UK community support is funded by the local authority.  A range of health professionals (i.e. a GP or clinical psychologist) may recommend that an individual requires a care package or other forms of support following a brain injury. However, local authority social workers and care managers need to conduct Mental Capacity Act assessments to ensure that the individual has the ability to consent to this type of care.

We are concerned that without specialist expertise in acquired brain injuries, it can be almost impossible to spot the presence of the Frontal Lobe Paradox because, in many cases, people will have preserved language skills and therefore appear remarkably unimpaired during a short one-to-one conversation. Assessors can wrongly deem the frontal lobe injury survivor to be capable of a range of skills that do not transfer to everyday life.

This situation can lead to people not receiving help that they desperately need. In the longer term, this can place them at risk of self-neglect.”

The DoN will work closely with other professional groups including United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum and the Brain Injury Social Work Group to ensure that all social workers receive training on brain injury, prior to conducting MCA assessments and that assessments routinely include information about the individual’s ability to complete important tasks and maintain a safe level of independence in everyday life.

You can read more about this in a new BPS blog post by the DoN.

 

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