Anthony Maden and Tim Spencer-Lane
The idea of one slim book covering the Mental Health and Mental Capacity Acts is an attractive one, as they are increasingly considered together by professionals working with vulnerable people, writes Chris Lucas. The book is aimed at helping non-specialist professionals with the practical application of the acts.
This approach works when offering background and discussion, such as when the book addresses the defining of mental disorder and risk management. It has accessible chapters on police powers, community treatment and the Mental Health Act for children and young people.
However, beyond that the book has a bit of an identity crisis and doesn’t seem sure who it’s for. There isn’t enough detail for a guide to using either act, but some chapters, especially those concerning treatment or detention under the Mental Health Act, describe too much process. And there’s not enough discussion of the issues and principles for a general reader.
With only 16 pages on the Mental Capacity Act and 15 on the deprivation of liberty safeguards, there isn’t enough information to adequately deal with legislation that is having such a big impact on how professionals support people. Plus, much of the content is from the codes of practice, but is so shortened as to have little value.
The book would benefit from case studies, case law or discussion of the acts’ applications as well as of their human rights context and analysis of how the two acts work together.
However, this book will still serve as some help to those wanting a quick guide.
Chris Lucas is a Mental Capacity Act development manager for Hampshire Council
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