Supporting Donna’s right to return home (IMCA)
Often the positive effects of advocacy can ripple across a case; empowering the person supported as well as helping the professionals involved. This was particularly evident with a recent Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA) case.
Our IMCA, Paula, met Donna when she was in hospital recovering from a fall. The social care worker had assessed Donna as lacking capacity to decide where to live and that, whilst fit to leave hospital, would not be able to care for herself at home. They therefore recommended that she be moved into a care home, at least temporarily. As Donna had no close family, an IMCA was instructed to support her. In the meantime, Donna was not discharged from the hospital, effectively depriving her of her liberty.
Donna is a chronic alcoholic who tends to lead a ‘chaotic’ lifestyle. She has never felt the need for respite in a care setting and had made this clear to her case worker before her fall. Due to occasional memory lapses, Donna makes sure that she writes everything down during case meetings so she can refer back to them.
From the outset, Donna was insistent that she was fit to be discharged from hospital and return to her home. Paula listened to Donna and reviewed relevant paperwork leading up the decision that Donna lacked capacity to decide where to live. From the notes, it transpired that alcohol withdrawal symptoms may have caused Donna’s case worker to assess her as lacking capacity when in fact she was fit for discharge and Donna did likely have the capacity to decide to leave the hospital and return home.
If this was the case, by preventing her from leaving, the medical team were in breach of the Mental Capacity Act. Paula alerted the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) team at the local authority to this potential breach of Donna’s rights. Paula also explained to the medical team that under the Mental Capacity Act, there were likely no legal grounds to prevent Donna from returning to her home.
Paula supported Donna on a video call with the social care team so she could explain, in her own words, why she did not need respite in a care setting, why she was fit to go home and what support she needed to do so. It was agreed that Donna did have the capacity to make this decision.
Shortly after, Donna was supported to return home with an interim care package in place whilst permanent arrangements were made. An Independent Care Act Advocate will now support Donna to get the right long-term support in place.
Advocacy provided clarity in what had become a very confusing situation, where boundaries were being crossed and rights breached. Not only did advocacy ensure Donna’s rights were upheld, it also reminded the professionals involved on the importance of the Mental Capacity Act in protecting people’s right to decide how to lead their life, even if others believe their decisions to be unwise.
Advocacy supported my right to decide how to lead my life and return home. My voice was heard.