At Full Capacity

I wrote earlier this weekend about our ill neighbour who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, yesterday morning his wife kindly brought us some fresh eggs and reported that he’d been awake all night, hyper, and they’d had to call the Out of Hours doctor. We had seen the doctor arrive and leave before we left the house , but when we came back from our pub lunch then river walk, there was an ambulance, police and the doctor all outside their house so we feared the worst. As we walked to our cottage, he shouted out to us and was clearly not in his right mind and the police were trying to settle him down. So whether it is his cancer or his medication, but this strong, silent farmer had become a bolshy, noisy man whose wife was afraid of him. We had a brief exchange but decided to leave the professionals to it and came away. It is clear that rapidly, this farmer had lost capacity and I do not see an easy time ahead for this loyal, private couple. The speed of his decline is heartbreaking.

We cannot have Power of Attorney over Joshua as he has never had capacity to sign over that power. As Joshua was born with brain damage, he has not gradually lost mental capacity over the years, but he has never had it. In starting at his new adult respite provision, I have had to sign a number of papers, along with his social worker, to state that certain procedures are in his best interest , even though they are taking his freedom of choice away. Examples include fastening the lap strap of his wheelchair so that he cannot have free access or locking the front door of the building to prevent him from getting outside . Joshua has always taken his anti epileptic tablets in yogurt to help him to swallow them; they are not crushed or hidden beneath the surface on the spoon, he watches you place the pill onto the spoon, and swallows it. Even when Joshua has not been eating properly, he has always taken just enough yogurt to swallow his medication , and sometimes no more. But I have had to request ,and pay for, a letter from the GP to ascertain that this is a medically approved procedure, now that he is over 18.

My husband and I have Power of Attorney over each other, in the event that either of us should suddenly lose mental capacity, as it would make practical things like bill paying and access to finances simpler if that ever becomes an issue in the future. Joshua does not have any financial responsibilities and so that does not need to concern him. We will always take care of his best interests , for the rest of our , or his life, whichever ends first. As an adult , Joshua is vulnerable to abuse of his trust and we will do our utmost to protect him. He is one more vulnerable adult , without the mental capacity , to take care of his own needs. While part of me resents the presumption that once he is 18 , our judgement should be questioned as his parents having Joshua’s best interests at heart , I do appreciate his vulnerabilities. As we have nothing to hide and his best interests will always be our priority, I am happy to comply with any rules and paperwork that may be thrown our way.

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