The Mental Capacity Act 2005 was assessed when the Act was introduced, in respect of its impact on race equality. The impact assessment did not raise any significant concerns about any adverse impacts on black and minority ethnic groups but 3 potential issues were highlighted:-
- That assessments of capacity and determinations of best interest should pay due regard to cultural influences upon a person who may lack capacity.
- That training for those people working within the parameters of the Act, especially IMCAs should properly address issues of cultural awareness and diversity.
- That information about, and services provided under, the Act be provided in the most accessible ways possible to engage with the diverse groups affected.
A report produced by the Mental Health Foundation in 2012 found that some people felt that mental health and financial matters are seen as private matters in some communities and not to be disclosed to strangers – issues were felt to be sensitive and in some cultures, taboo.
Equally well there is a concern that care professionals, fearful of being seen as doing the wrong thing, can accept cultural stereotypes – for example that black and minority ethnic communities are family oriented and that they “look after their own” which can create a situation where service users are not encouraged to access information.
It’s vitally important that when life changing decisions are to be made by the Court of Protection, that families understand the objectives of the Mental Capacity Act and how they impact on individuals.