Mental Health Awareness Week: Unlocking lockdown

By Sarah Newport

We hope that our clients and their families are all keeping safe and well during the coronavirus crisis.

Sarah Newport

The Court of Protection team here at CJCH have been busy during the lockdown, continuing to represent vulnerable individuals and their families. We have been on hand to assist in ‘unlocking the lockdown’ to guide our clients through the emergent impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

There has been guidance coming from all directions across the legal, medical, and community care professions. All of which have been insightful and helpful, but can be daunting for an individual to review and understand. Our team has been keeping on top of the guidance to break vast amounts of information down to the crucial issues for our clients.

We are proud to have supported Mental Health Awareness week, seeing the initiative remain at full strength is a pleasure. It is important now more than ever that the promotion of mental health support is as prevalent as possible.

Lockdown and the rights of the individual

We are all feeling the effects of the lockdown and the separation from loved ones. However, the coronavirus has unfortunately impacted vulnerable individuals and those lacking mental capacity to a disproportionate degree.

Our team has been keeping a keen eye on ensuring that our vulnerable clients are not being inappropriately subjected to ‘blanket policies’ in care settings, whether it be in a hospital, care home, or supported living placements.

We have taken a strong stance in reminding public bodies of their duties in taking a person-centred approach.

We have been advocating strongly for family contact to be maintained in whatever creative, but safe, way possible. We have enjoyed checking in with our lovely clients via platforms such as Skype or Zoom and we appreciate the occasional guest star when pets or children make an appearance!

Question: What can I do if I have concerns about a person who lacks mental capacity?

It cannot be emphasised enough that the protection offered by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 prevails. The principles of the legislation and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLs) remain unchanged during the pandemic. Groups of individuals who lack capacity cannot be treated the same, restrictions must be considered on a person by person basis.

If somebody is deprived of their liberty under a ‘DoLs’, any greater restriction during the pandemic must be lawfully authorised. The relevant public body must conduct an appropriate review.

If there is any dispute about a person’s best interests, an application to the Court of Protection remains the appropriate route to resolve this. The Court of Protection has adapted to lockdown quickly and efficiently with cases are being heard remotely every day.

If you are worried about a vulnerable person at this time, the CJCH Court of Protection team is available to assist, click here for our contact information. CJCH Here for you.