Today was the latest in the long line of mental capacity assessments that Steven has been put through in relation to the community DoLS. The first one was a year ago and today was the fourth. They’ve never really got out of the starting blocks because, quite frankly, Steven has refused to engage with them. You can always rely on Steven to smell the bullshit a mile off and in his own inimitable way, calls it for exactly what it is.
Anyone with a smidgen of knowledge about the Mental Capacity Act knows that a capacity assessment has to be decision specific. And that has been the stumbling block so far – the process is so nonsensically labirynth, nobody has managed to work out what the question is that they’re meant to be exploring. I’m still not entirely sure but I think the question today was – does Steven have the capacity to agree to his current support arrangements. This is important because the DoLS ship has sailed so far off course that having support around the home and to go out is now seen as a deprivation of one’s liberty. We are now in such DoLS chaos that the very thing that enables Steven’s liberty is viewed as depriving him of it!
I spent the morning with Steven but left before the assessment. Cowardly, I know but I was frightened of inadvertently revealing that the king has got no clothes on. So I left it to the two support workers knowing they’ll give me a full report afterwards.
The social worker brought a male colleague with her. It was a wise move. Steven gets a bit intimidated by her but he took to her chum.
Here are some of the highlights:
Assessor: Where do you live Steven?
Steven: In the Cowley house.
Assessor: Do you live here on your own?
Steven: No. With Mark Neary.
Assessor: Do you like living with Mark Neary?
Assessor: Do you like your support workers?
Assessor: Do you do your food shopping?
Assessor: Who does your shopping Steven?
Steven: Ranjit or Gary.
Assessor: Are they your support workers?
Steven: No. Ranjit and Gary are Tesco men. Ranjit and Gary bring the shopping on their lorry.
Assessor: Do you go to the shops Steven?
Steven: Yes. Go to Jay’s shop.
Assessor: Do you go to the shop on your own?
Steven: No. Go to the shop on Friday with Alan and Des…. (Steven then ran through each day of the week and who goes with him each time).
Assessor: Why does Des go with you on Fridays?
Steven: Steven Neary carries the crisps. Des carries the massive heavy milk.
Assessor: Do you ever go out on your own?
Steven: No. I don’t. (Then he thought about it and admitted). Steven Neary went to see Uncle Wayne next Friday nighttime. Steven Neary was being a bit silly.
Then, for some reason, the assessor decided on some geography questions:
Assessor: Where is Cowley?
Steven: Here. This is the Cowley living room.
Assessor: Is Cowley near Uxbridge?
At this point the assessment abruptly ended. Steven got upset and ran off to his bedroom saying:
“Don’t want to go back to the Uxbridge house. Want to live in the Cowley house forever and ever”.
This morning, before the assessment, I tweeted some thoughts about and mentioned that I’d like to have a cup of tea with Lady Hale and ask her whether this is what she had in mind when she came up with the idea of the acid test. Steve Broach tweeted back suggesting that she would probably be up for it and that I should drop her a line at the Supreme Court.
So I did.
And I think she will reply.
“Lady Hale. Do you ever leave the Supreme Court on your own? And do you know where Westminster is?”