Wed 26 Oct 22
More than 1,000 health and legal professionals registered for an Essex-led training webinar aimed at improving understanding of the Mental Capacity Act and the use of Do Not Attempt CPR orders in care settings.
Participants included nurses, social workers, doctors, psychiatrists and paramedics, as well as assessors and advocates responsible for ensuring respect for human rights standards in care settings.
The webinar was chaired by Dr Margaret Flynn, Chair of the National Mental Capacity Forum with input from Dr Karen Chumbley, Clinical Lead for End-of-Life Care for the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Integrated Care System, Caroline Barry, a palliative care specialist at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Ben Troke from Hill Dickinson Solicitors, Alex Ruck Keene QC, from 39 Essex Chambers and Professor Martin.
Feedback from the first webinar, at which a series of training videos were also launched, showed the training helped participants gain confidence in their understanding of the legal requirements.
It follows a successful series of webinars, attracting up to 800 people, led by Professor Martin in 2020-21, which provided vital guidance for frontline staff working in locked-down care homes during the pandemic.
"Our aim was to ensure that professionals involved in these life-and-death decisions are aware of their legal obligations."
Professor Martin said: “The first series allowed us to gather and analyse in real-time information about practices and training needs inside hard-to-access care facilities. Those insights have informed training developed by the National Mental Capacity Forum (NMCF), the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Ministry of Justice and resulted in the NMCF inviting us to create this second series.”
As well as providing vital guidance to those responsible for applying the Mental Capacity Act, series two also provides an opportunity for Professor Martin’s research team to present Autonomy Project research findings to a frontline practitioners and policy makers.
“Both our research and that of the Care Quality Commission has shown significant areas of poor and sometimes unlawful practice in applying the Mental Capacity Act’s best-interests’ provisions to decisions about CPR. We’re focusing on two different kinds of CPR-related decisions faced by care-professionals: firstly the immediate decision about whether to initiate CPR in the face of cardiac arrest; and secondly, an advance decision, taken prior to an emergency, about whether it makes sense to initiate CPR,” explained Professor Martin.
“Our aim was to ensure that professionals involved in these life-and-death decisions are aware of their legal obligations (including their human rights obligations), and to raise awareness of some troubling cases where professionals have been sanctioned for their actions,” he added.
The series continues in December with a second webinar, co-developed with Hannah Atkinson from the School of Health and Social Care, on the use of speech and language therapy as a technique for helping care-recipients to exercise their rights.