One Friday afternoon on September 2010, I got a call from one of Steven's regular support workers. His wife had been taken ill and he couldn't do his shift that evening. Steven was due to go to the Mencap Pool, so I decided to stand in. I knew this would unsettle Steven a bit. It's the importance of routines again - I knew that he would be pleased to see me but I'm not normally involved in the Friday night swim, so the routine is broken.
When I got to the Unit, the shift leader was in a flap. It was about 5.35. The cab was due to pick us up at 5.45. She told me that at 5.30, a psychiatrist, Dr P, had arrived unexpectedly and wanted to do a mental capacity assessment on Steven. The second DoL was due to expire and they had left it late organising all the assessments for the third DoL.
In an email that the shift leader sent to the social worker she describes: "He (Dr P) was insistent to come in, if only for five minutes. His argument was that he had just finished work at the hospital and it was a good opportunity to meet Steven instead of coming all this way again next week and today's visit would cut the cost". There was no record of any appointment being made and she sent him back to his car to get some ID. At that point the cab arrived and I made the decision to carry on with our normal plan and go swimming. That was later logged as me being "uncooperative".
Justice Jackson was very critical of the way Hillingdon went about all four DoLs and this short experience with Dr P sums up their whole attitude to the process:
Is it okay to do a serious mental capacity assessment in five minutes?
Is it okay to just turn up for the assessment, with the person being assessed being given no preparation?
Is it okay that cost and the psychiatrist nor being inconvenienced takes precedence over the needs of the person being assessed?
Did the Hillingdon arse actually know what the Hillingdon elbow is doing?