Mental Capacity Bill: Last chance to protect the rights of people with dementia

We are calling for more changes to the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill, which is currently being debated. Here are our concerns about what it'll mean for people with dementia.

Our helpline advisers are here for you.

Our National Dementia Helpline receives over 100 calls a month about the Mental Capacity Act. It is clearly a confusing system that requires change.

However, we are determined that the Government do not replace one broken system with another. 

The Government’s Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill seeks to reform the current safeguarding system known as Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. The Bill will be going through its Third Reading in Parliament on Tuesday 12 February. 

Alzheimer’s Society has recently raised concerns about what the new law will mean for people with dementia. We’re particularly concerned about greater responsibility given to care home managers.

In the proposed new system, there are three assessments required to decide if a person should be deprived of their liberty.

One of these is the 'necessary and proportionate assessment'. Part of this requires care home managers to consult with the person to understand their wishes and feelings about their proposed care arrangements. 

How is the Mental Capacity Bill different from what's currently in place?

The proposed Bill would replace the safeguarding system that is used when it is necessary to deprive a person of their liberty in order to provide care and treatment. 

More than half of the people deprived of their liberty under the current system have dementia.

We believe the proposed changes could negatively affect people with dementia by not providing them with the safeguards they need and deserve

We are calling for the Government to make more changes 

Alzheimer's Society has been working together with other charities and partners as part of the Mental Capacity third sector group.

Together, we have been lobbying the Government to improve the proposals since they were first published last summer. 

We have lobbied the Government so that now: 

  • The cared for person must be consulted on their wishes and feelings 
  • Care home managers will not be carrying out the necessary and proportionate assessment. This will now be conducted by someone with appropriate skills and training from the responsible body, and they must have regard to the individual’s wishes and feelings on proposed arrangements  
  • Care home managers are no longer the gatekeepers when people need access to a trained advocate
  • Information on rights should be provided to the cared for person

We are asking the Government to go further to improve the Bill for people affected by dementia:

  • Care home managers should not be consulting with the cared for person to ascertain their wishes and feelings in relation to proposed arrangements.  Instead, an independent professional should undertake the consultation
  • The length of time a person can be deprived of their liberty should be no longer than 12 months, instead of three years as proposed by the Government 
  • Advocacy should be available for all and should not be subject to a best interest test 
  • Information on rights must be provided before the authorisation is granted

Vulnerable people with dementia deserve to have their rights protected by a system that safeguards not harms them.

We are working hard to ensure that the Government listens to our concerns.

  • The Bill will be debated in the House of Commons on the afternoon of Tuesday 12 February. You can watch the debate live on the Parliament website.
  • Join the conversation and follow Alzheimer’s Society on Twitter (@alzheimerssoc) for the latest updates. 

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Get involved

If you want to get involved with helping Alzheimer’s Society to campaign around this Bill, please contact us.

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