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Case Study: Mental Capacity


How Cate Searle, a Mental Capacity solicitor in Brighton, helped Debra to understand how Social Services should determine whether or not her learning-disabled adult daughter Katie had the mental capacity to decide where she should live.

The situation

Debra came to see Cate as she was concerned about her daughter’s future. Her daughter Katie has been diagnosed as having Severe Learning Difficulties, Global Developmental Delay and an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Katie is now 21 and has been placed in a variety of schools throughout her childhood. When she was 18 years old, Debra agreed with Social Services that Katie would attend a residential educational placement that was funded by the Local Authority. Katie’s behaviour and attitude showed that she did not want to leave home and subsequently that she did not enjoy her placement. Debra felt that Katie wanted to return home before her placement was due to end in a few months’ time. However, Debra understood that Katie’s college were doing their best to improve her skills and give her some independence. Katie’s college placement ended in July and Debra wanted some advice about what should or could happen to Katie after her Social Services funded placement ended and whether she and her husband Henry could have any say in their daughter’s future. Debra also wanted to know whether Social Services would take Katie’s wishes and feelings into account and how they would determine whether she could decide her own future.

What Martin Searle Solicitors did

Cate explained the impact that the Mental Capacity Act 2005 has on Katie’s situation as a learning disabled young adult and how Katie’s parents and Social Services should work together to determine whether Katie has the capacity to make decisions, such as where she should live and what she should do with her time. Cate advised Debra that Katie’s ability to make these decisions could vary and that Katie should be given the opportunity to express her wishes and feelings whenever possible. This is in line with the five Statutory Principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Cate provided Debra with advice on how both she and Social Services should give Katie the best possible chance of making a capacitated decision, which involved the introduction of an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) who would meet with Katie to talk about her future. Cate helped Debra to initiate this process with Social Services before Katie’s college placement was due to end. This meant that the IMCA had time to get to know Katie and to complete a mental capacity assessment.

The result

It transpired that Katie was able to make a decision about where she should live and she was able to clearly express her wish to return home to live with her parents. Debra met with the Social Worker and felt confident that she was able to put Katie’s best interests first and show Social Services that Katie would continue to have opportunities to attend day centres or a college if she wanted to. Debra was able to request additional services that Katie is entitled to, including care cover so that she and Henry could continue to work. Debra understands that Katie’s capacity may fluctuate and that considerable time and effort will be required to determine whether Katie can make a decision about a particular issue. Therefore Debra and Katie’s Social Worker continue to communicate with each other about Katie’s progress to ensure that Katie’s best interests are met at every opportunity.

If you need expert advice regarding Mental Capacity, our specialist Community Care Team can help. Contact us to find out more.

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