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Postcard From Norfolk Day Four

June 9, 2016

What a weird day. Reflective. Emotional. Holidaying.

Last night we had our annual team meeting. It turned into the most practical conversation about the Human Rights Act and the Mental Capacity Act I’ve ever taken part in. You often hear professionals talk about bringing the law to life. This was it.

The day before we came on holiday, Steven was adamant he didn’t want to come. After a few hours, he was able to explain why. “Holidays are a bit busy for Steven Neary”. This was miraculous. He wouldn’t have been able to engage with this self reflection five years ago. He wouldn’t have made the connection between his anxiety and unsettlement with the fact that holidays are a bit busy. He would have just reacted noisily & sometimes aggressively to the loud pier. This level of self awareness would not be picked up on during a mental capacity assessment. There wouldn’t be the time nor the wherewithal.

As a consequence, this week has been a very different holiday. Steven has shaped it exactly the way he’s wanted it to be. As usual, I printed off lots of places we could visit but Steven preferred to reject all those and create a home from home, albeit with a very long swim and spa each day. I think it’s probably been his idea of a perfect holiday. And as it’s his holiday, why should it be any other way?  It’s been a valuable experiment and lessons have been learned.

So, last night’s meeting had this very much as the context to explore capacity, choices, unwise decisions, not making a decision. We all agreed that Steven has the capacity to make all the decisions about the construction of his holiday experience and can therefore make unwise decisions if he so wishes.

This is all about his maturing and the life wisdom he’s gained.

My only tiny question mark about all this is what about new life experiences? Steven will still need to be shown new experiences to see if he likes them. Yesterday, Steven thoroughly enjoyed the new DVD, Sunshine on Leith. But if wasn’t for the people who know him, Steven wouldn’t have known that film exists. Before someone can exercise a choice, the choice has to be created and that will inevitably require someone to facilitate that.

I woke up this morning to Twitter reminding me that it was five years ago today Justice Peter Jackson handed down his judgment in Neary vs Hillingdon. Needless to say, this set me off down memory lane.

But it’s all connected. Commentators often call Steven’s case a landmark human rights/MCA case. Life is very different 5 years on but as this week shows, it is still about those pieces of legislation. There is no professional involvement anymore to muddy the waters, to judge Steven’s life, to “control and coerce”.

This week’s postcards ends with Steven’s best interest decisions for today: a lay in until 7.30, a Take That disco, a huge cooked brunch courtesy of Michael the support worker, a white knuckle hour in the deep end of the pool, and as I write, some post swim chill out time with The Full Monty.

A month after the 2011 court case we went on holiday to Somerset. Whilst there, I wrote the final chapter of the book. I concluded with, ” I think we’re going to be okay”.

We are.


From → Social Care

  1. So good to hear:-)

  2. Cathy Hodge permalink

    Glad Stevens holiday was as it should be, and not too busy.
    Home from home, with just a few small optional side trips sounds good.
    After all, if you hadn’t been at Tescos you’d both have never seen Brittany Spears.
    Real or imagined, these are true experiences, that memories are built on.
    Hope you have a safe and non-eventful drive back towards home
    And an occasional movie star sighting along the way, is optional.
    Godspeed and bon voyage.

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