People with mental illness or learning disabilities may be being deprived on their liberties, regulators warned after they found that there is a “widespread” lack of understanding about the Mental Capacity Act.
Health and social care staff have been encouraged by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to enhance their knowledge about the 2005 Act, which was developed to help people who cannot make certain decisions for themselves.
The CQC raised concerns that the legislation is “not well understood or implemented” by some staff in care homes and hospitals.
In some care homes and hospitals, people’s freedom to make decisions for themselves is “restricted” without proper consideration of their ability to consent or refuse, the regulator said.
A new CQC report suggests that there is particular confusion about the proper use of restraint.
The report says: “The use of restraint can become routine when there is a lack of understanding and proper governance. It can also be hard for staff to gauge whether restraint is proportionate and in someone’s best interests.”
David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, said: “If someone has dementia or has a severe learning disability they can still contribute to decisions about their care.
“If this is done properly then people will receive appropriate care; if it is not done then people can be deprived of their liberty.
“Understanding the Mental Capacity Act and the way it is applied is critical to good quality, safe care. Those providing services, must ensure that their staff understand the Act and what it means for the care and treatment of people.”
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